5 Ways to End Disability Stigma
5 Ways to End Disability Stigma
There’s no question that disability stigma is very prevalent in society. Whether it’s someone seeing you as inspiration porn or giving you unwarranted pity (let’s get real, when is pity ever warranted), here are 5 ways to stop disability stigma in its tracks.
- Start conversations
When I’m rolling down the street, it’s no surprise that I get stares. Sometimes those stares can result in otherwise rude comments. I used to get offended & blurt out an extra loud swear word while talking to my friend to show the onlooker that I’m a normal 20-year-old. It’s sad that profanity is the thing I’ve found diminishes disability stereotypes/stigmas the most proficiently. But hey, I’m an impatient person & have shit to do. If you have a hair more patience then I do, most of the time, you can start a conversation. Use the stares & rude questions as an opportunity to make the world a little less ignorant to disability.
Stranger on street: “Oh, are you guys sisters?!” (In a condescending cringe-worthy voice)
Me in my head: “Okay, keep your shit together. They’re just ignorant. Let’s makes them less ignorant.”
Me out loud: “No, this is my friend. We’re going out looking for sugar daddy’s.”
In this case, instead of using profanity or being rude, I simply used the shock factor.
2. Use fashion
Sometimes, blending into the crowd is the best and worst thing you can do. When I dress in casual, everyday clothes with a makeup-less face, I’ve found that I’m 85% more likely to experience those cringe-worthy comments we talked about earlier. While 85% is a rough estimate, I've found it to be pretty accurate. When I’m dolled up — hair curled, pumps on, tight dress, & wearing makeup with a bomb ass wing, people focus on those things more then my disability. Using fashion to stop disability stigma is probably my favorite tool because it diminishes disability stigma just by being a bad bitch. No conversation needed. But.. if you really want to rip these stigmas apart, use number 1 & 2 together. You’ll blow their mind.
3. Share your story
This technique requires patience & the correct situation and can be done in person or online. I’ve found that sharing my story on social media is very useful in ending disability stigmas. Sharing your life with others, especially strangers, isn’t something everyone wants to do. Rightfully so, you shouldn’t have to. But, it is an awesome way to spread awareness & stop disability stigma. Sharing your own unique experiences can really show able-bodied people that we aren’t as different on the inside as we appear on the outside. I’ve been doing this for months & I’ve received countless messages from people who have a better understanding of disability because of my posts about disability. Just because I sit doesn’t mean I don’t twerk in my mind...
4. Don’t get offended
For me, this is difficult, especially if the comment is actually meant to be rude and isn’t just an ignorant comment due to the person being uneducated. But, getting offended really doesn’t do either party any good because it doesn’t accomplish anything productive. By not getting offended, you can begin to use any of the tools mentioned above. In most cases, the person doesn’t mean to offend you — they’re genuinely ignorant to disability. If you can keep your shit together long enough (I know how hard this can be), shut them down with your bomb personality or witty banter. Witty banter is always a great tool because it’s showing off that you’re a powerful & smart as hell individual that’s separate from your disability or wheelchair.
5. Join the LYG Movement
There’s this awesome movement that was created by a pretty cute individual (me- shocker :P), called the Love Your Genes Movement. This movement is being perpetuated by the LYG merchandise created by WheelchairRapunzel. It’s a movement to accept & embrace everyone regardless of: disability, gender, sexual orientation, religious believes, ethnicities, etc. by loving the genetic makeup that was passed on to us. This movement has been growing by the people who rock their LYG merch loud and proud. We can’t control our genetic makeup, but we can love it. Stop disability stigma & a host of other stigmas surrounding other minorities by rocking some LYG Gear today.
Grab your LYG merch today by visiting www.wheelchairrapunzel.com