Nylon.com, the official website for the magazine publication, shared a Tumblr video (http://petitetimidgay.tumblr.com/) of 23 year old Philadelphia blogger Erin speaking on the unequal treatment she’s received as a person with a disability. This “unequal treatment” may not be what you’d immediately think. Erin wasn’t referring to stares, nasty comments, or not being able to get into a building because of ADA (American’s with Disabilities Act) violations. (All things I’m sure she’s experienced at some point in her life). No what she’s referring to is the initial treatment she receives that in other circumstances might be seen as complimentary.
Erin explains that she’s tired of strangers telling her she’s inspirational. She validly points out that disability does not define a person and shouldn’t be a litmus test for someone’s personality or achievements:
“Once I showed up to a children’s Eater-egg hunt hungover and vomited in front of a group of single moms doing their family photo. Don’t pretend you know me or my life, and it’s an insulting thing to tell a disabled person that you wouldn’t be able to live the way they do”
I totally get where Erin is coming from and allow me to put my two cents in.
**Obligatory Disclaimer: My opinion does not reflect everyone in a wheelchair, it’s just mine. **
I don’t mind if people say I’m inspirational, but that’s IF they know what I’ve achieved to get where I am today. I don’t need a participation award just because I got out of bed and decided to be out in society this morning. When people say “I would never be able to live the way you do” I don’t take offense, I view it as someone just trying to relate. But I’ll let you in on a little secret …I never thought I could do this either! Like with anything else in life I don’t think anyone really knows what they can handle until that’s your only option.
It’s a process for people to get over my physical disability. For a person I want to take the time to get to know, I’m perfectly okay rolling through the process right alongside with you until I’m seen as Heidi and not wheelchair Heidi.
You can check out Erin’s video here: