Cheesy 'inspirational' images criticizedDec 13 08:27
There's a new term I'm in love with: Inspiration porn. Confused? You know what I'm talking about…those drippy emotional posters of kids or adults with disabilities, doing simple things, like a running on prosthetics or going to school, with a quote next saying, "Your excuse is invalid." What is your gut reaction when seeing one of these images?
Do you say to yourself, "Awesome. It shows the world we live normal lives too. Can't hurt!" or do they make you want to puke up in your mouth? A sassy Australian blogger Stella Young for Ramp Up, part of ABC News in Australia, has no problem sharing her opinion: These images couldn't be more reviling. In her latest blog, We're not here for your inspiration, she lets the world have it when it comes to her opinion of what she really thinks of “inspiration porn" (a term coined by this brilliant woman).
One of her biggest beefs is being complemented for doing everyday things. She talks about how a woman on the bus complemented her for going to work every day. I don't know about you, but this stuff drives me crazy too. But not every person with a disability feels like this. I know from personal experience. There are a lot of people who don't mind being called inspirational (maybe they like it too much). But if you come from the camp of just wanting to be treated like normal, the whole inspirational treatment can get old real quick.
And Young brings up an interesting point: Why able-bodied people really like these images; the psychology behind it. She believe it's so they can feel better about themselves. If we can go about our lives that are presumably horrible, then they should be able to too. And she's dead-on right if you ask me. The blogger even went so far as to say these ads shame people with disabilities (she got a lot of flak on that one).
Specifically, she says these images wrongly show people with disabilities always being happy and a having a seemingly unending amount of courage. She says they make us feel guilty if we're not just like them. For me, this has never really been a problem. I would never feel guilty for not being Miss Happy Wheelchair Lady, but then again I think it can be fun being a b$#!* every once in awhile.
I do however agree that these images can definitely perpetuate stereotypical ideas about PWD, and that is the last thing we need. Inspiration porn really is overly popular now days, clogging up social media outlets left and right. AB folks need a new feel-good solution.
Where do you stand on this issue? Does inspirational porn bug you, or could you care less?
Read the full text of Stella Young's article, We're not here for your inspiration
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1. giulia | Jan 05 04:41
I think the original article is making two unrelated arguments. I agree that the slogan "the only disability is a poor attitude" is entirely offensive. But, I'm not sure it's so terrible and demeaning for able-bodied people to find a disabled person inspiring. I walk with braces and crutches, often painfully, and it IS more difficult for me to get to (and perform) my daily job than it is for most people -- a LOT more difficult. I find it hard to be offended if someone expresses admiration for my efforts. Here's another example: Years ago, when I was in a particularly despairing mood about my disability, I saw Christopher Reeve appear on stage for the first time, on TV, smiling broadly. Did I demean him by feeling inspired by his smile, because it helped me to think that if he could smile like that, without being able to move most of his body, then maybe I would be able to find moments of happiness too. Am I a bad person for reacting that way?
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.