Inspiration porn has nothing to do with sex

As a person who openly concedes to the fact the I’m very connected to myself and my surroundings, I often find myself having sudden bursts of realization that usually turns into me jabbering for what’s considered an unnecessarily long Instagram story, or this.

As a Instagram blogger whose main focus is sharing my experience with disability to create a safe place to explore some very relevant and tough issues, I like to push the boundaries. I enjoy bringing someone from their comfort zone (mine is typing here on this screen) to their “danger zone.” For me, this would be a auditorium full of eager listeners and me sitting on a stage with a huge stage light glistening on the sweat dripping down my head as my throat develops a gargantuan sized lump while everyone waits to hear my uneasy-SMA-voice deliver a speech. (Sorry y’all, I don’t think public speaking will ever be in the cards for me.) Sometimes I can get a little wordy, sorry. For me, context is key.

I often explore taboo topics like sex and disability, body positivity, and other disability stigmas. 

I’m here to serve up some unpopular opinion as I tend to do. The thing about opinions is that everyone has one and if we all had similar opinions Trump wouldn’t be president.

When I hear someone refer to me as a warrior or say “you’re fighting SMA” I feel my inner slinky snap shut with a shutter of pure distaste. You’ll never see me say things like: I’m a fighter, warrior, or anything other cliche used to describe how people with disabilities live their lives. Oftentimes, able bodied people who refer to people with disabilities as these things are trying to soothe their own insecurities or (misunderstood) perceptions they have about disability. People love to say things like “Susie is suffering from X disease, isn’t she brave?” I’ve been asked how I “cope” with my disability in a recent interview and I returned their question with a dumbfounded look. This is all makes sense, though.

Society has placed disability in a little red box neatly labeled “inspiration porn.” I painted this box red on purpose, to signify contrast. Society loves excluding disability from regular conversations that need to be had and we only talk about it when we need to compare ourselves to disability to make ourselves feel better about our struggles. 

Perspective is something that drives the forces of societal attitudes into what we call life. Ever since I was a child I’ve had a very different perspective because of the life I live. I wanted to shout my perspective from the rooftops so that people could see me not just my disability. Why didn’t I want people to see my disability? Not because I was ashamed or embarrassed of it - it was because I was treated as an object by people outside of my circle. Everyone would carry their little red “inspiration porn” lunchbox around with them and eat their soggy ass sandwich whenever I came to lunch. Coined by activist Stella Young, inspiration porn describes the way society objectifies disability in a way to make able bodied people get the warm & fuzzies after they couldn’t start their car or whatever y’all struggle with. Too often, I see disabled people doing this, and I don’t blame them. It’s how we were conditioned as a society through the spoon feeding of images of disability accompanied with a trash inspirational saying.

Asking a disabled person to prom isn’t inspirational. Doing something nice for a disabled person isn’t inspirational.

What really chaps my ass is that videos like that go viral regularly and it leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. This scares me on a person level... because I vaguely remember someone videoing me drunkenly making out with a guy in a bar. “Wheelchair Rapunzel can get a guy, you can too.” Oh god okay I’m scaring myself. Let’s stop. This is teaching society that disabled people aren’t worthy of dating or kindness. It’s further perpetuating the untrue idea that people with disabilities are “suffering” or “warriors.” Next time you need the warm & fuzzies - be a normal person and watch cute baby animal videos. Disability doesn’t exist to make you feel better or to be fetishized. Disability is just an extension of who I am: a wheelchair baddie with sex appeal.

I want to exist in a society where disability is “normal” and where I can live my life without people thinking me going out to a bar is “brave.” Is pounding several shots brave when you weigh 70 lbs? It’s either brave or a death wish - you decide. Merely going out and breathing in public, however, is not something I’d consider brave.

I’m not a fighter, I’m not a warrior. I’m living. I’m not fighting to live my life with a disability, I’m fighting for society to accept me living my life with a disability.

Instagram: @wheelchair_rapunzel