Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Must Read on Two Kinds Of Disabled People

Close up picture of a computer keyboard key with a thumbs up symbol on it
Cara Liebowitz, That Crazy Crippled Chick - June 17, 2015

This article is way too great to leave for my weekend Weekly Reading List post.

First of all, I am “Ugly Disabled” as Cara defines it here. Which is to say that because of my disabilities, I mostly don't fit mainstream standards of physical attractiveness. Which is not to say that I hate how I look, or that there’s nothing physically attractive about me. It’s just that, like Cara and so many other disabled people, I don’t look “normal except for …” So, I relate to this very personally. I get where she’s coming from.

Second, I wholeheartedly second the part about how people who are “Pretty Disabled” seem to have a bit of a social edge on us, even in a community that’s all about inclusion and equality. When I first started working in Independent Living, and for the first time found myself in rooms filled with fellow disabled people of all kinds, I admired the ones who looked really slick and put-together in their cool, quiet, lightweight manual wheelchairs. And, I am ashamed to say, I felt less than fully comfortable around the disabled people "who rock and flap and whose speech is sometimes not fluent.” I got over both the hero-worship and the internalized ableism ... mostly ... but the distinctions are still there in my mind.

Finally, I would like to point out how beautifully and precisely Cara describes her disability, in a neutral, non-melodramatic tone, and with concrete terms anyone can understand. I don’t know whether it was therapeutic or revelatory for her, but I have sometimes found it helpful to write a description like this of my own disabilities. I wonder if that would be a good exercise for teenagers growing up with disabilities, to help them explore what disability means to them, as opposed to whatever they have been taught to think about it?

Please do follow the link and read the post. It is important and a pleasure to read.