Why Inspiration Porn Is Harmful To The Disabled Community
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Politics and Activism

Why Inspiration Porn Is Harmful To The Disabled Community

A good attitude isn't going to conjure a ramp!

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Why Inspiration Porn Is Harmful To The Disabled Community
ABC

In my previous article, I discussed various disabled TV characters and how they properly or improperly represent the disabled community. The disabled community has been vastly underrepresented and misrepresented in the past. One of the biggest problems that the disabled community faces is only exacerbated by the misrepresentation in TV, among other platforms. This problem is known colloquially as inspiration porn.

Stella Young, an Australian comedian, journalist, and activist with osteogenesis imperfecta, is credited with coining the term in 2012. It is defined as "the calling of people with disabilities inspirational solely or in part because of their disability." Young beautifully stated the real problem the disabled community has with inspiration porn in a TED Talk. She defended the use of the word porn in the term, stating that it "objectifies one group of people for the benefit of another group of people." She says that we've been taught that disability is a bad thing, so if you live with it, you're exceptional.

Social media further pushes inspiration porn with images of people with disabilities doing things that able-bodied people can easily dow with captions such as "The only disability in life is a bad attitude" or "your excuse is invalid." The people in these pictures are being used to motivate able-bodied people to exist. The thing is, disabled people exist alongside able-bodied people. The only difference between them is an impairment, usually accommodated by some form of equipment. A kid in a wheelchair playing basketball is just playing basketball in a wheelchair. An amputee running is just running while missing a limb. A muscular paraplegic went to the gym and ate healthy, just like a muscular able-bodied people. That is just living life, but perhaps a little differently. The people in these inspiration porn pictures are just living life the same as everyone else, but perhaps in a different way than other people. I know that these things are meant to be a compliment, but it's actually dehumanizing. Disabled people do not exist exclusively to inspire you and motivate you.

Inspiration porn is harmful to disabled people because it keeps disability from becoming normalized. All disabled people want is to be accepted for who they are, impairment and all. They don't want to be exceptional because of an impairment. Disabled people get out of bed every morning and exist the same way as able-bodied people. They go to school or work, have friends and people they hate, have vices and virtues and everything in between. Existing is not an accomplishment. If it were, should everyone's picture be on Facebook with an inspirational quote? Would everyone be comfortable with that? No? Then how do you think disabled people feel about being objectified?

Inspiration porn also gives people the wrong idea about disability. It's not something to overcome. It's something that exists. Some days it isn't bothersome, and some days it's the biggest problem. You cannot possibly expect a human being facing something challenging to be happy. People in inspiration porn aren't always happy. No one is always happy. That's normal.

Able-bodied people can help to normalize disability by not creating or sharing inspiration porn. They can educate themselves about the problems the disabled community faces and help to advocate. And most of all, they can treat disabled people like people worth building relationships with, giving privacy, and respecting.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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