So, friends, did you watch the premiere of the new season of The Bachelor on Monday?
Confession time: I’ve never watched ABC’s The Bachelor, but for some reason, I recorded the premiere last night. I’m not sure why exactly. Maybe to follow bachelor Jake’s journey to love. And then I remembered a little mission of my own I started last year.
I’ve always been bothered by reality shows that fail to show people with disabilities as people first. It bothers me even more when reality shows don’t feature women with disabilities. Ever.
Frankly, there’s just no excuse for it. And those dating shows have always made me want to scream at the television and say, “I am so much more real than her.”
Part of living and thriving with a disability is the desire to love and be loved, just like able-bodied people. Sometimes, it seems, society forgets or misses that point entirely. So, being the brave woman that I am, I decided I needed to take it upon myself to remind ABC that one of their precious shows – The Bachelorette – might, just might benefit from a bit of tweaking.
What did I do? I wrote them an email, naturally, in which I said, in part:
I’ve experienced my fair share of life in my 28 years. Born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a bone and muscular disorder, I’ve had 27 surgeries, spent birthdays and holidays lying in a hospital bed and spent thousands of hours sitting in stark-white doctors’ offices. My only solace was the fact that many of those young doctors were quite charming and handsome, and maybe I did fall for a few of them, though, having taken quite a few psychology courses in college, I knew deep down that it was all just a case of transference.
But what haven’t I experienced? My first kiss. My first date. My first boyfriend. All the things I’ve listened to my peers shriek – and cry – about is something I have only glimpsed from afar. That’s not to say I’ve never been in love. I have. Quite a few times, actually. But where others let their own flaws and insecurities serve as an obstacle to love, my physical disability has served that purpose for me.
My story and honest voice would go a long way toward squelching some of the stereotypes and misconceptions people have about women with disabilities: That they don’t have the same needs and wants as able-bodied women and that their disability somehow takes away from the fact that they are, first a foremost, women.
So here’s what I propose: You fly me to LA or the locale of your choice. Put me in the center of 28 lovely bachelors and watch the sparks fly!
Who wouldn’t want to be the first major cable network to document the first date EVER of a 28-year-old? Oh, and I am also available for personal appearances and red-carpet events should the need ever arise.
In my naive mind, I thought ABC would pounce on this the moment they heard of me, but I think something (or someone — another jilted bachelorette, perhaps?) has disconnected our signal. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard a peep from them. Despite my email. With my luck, they probably put me on some watch-list or blacklisted me, fearing my strength, persistence and otherwise disarmingly charming personality, sense of humor and captivating eyes.
Maybe it’s too much of an innocent notion, but I like to think there could be so much more. There is potential for that show, not just a bunch of beautiful women and men clamoring for each other’s attention, crying over someone they barely know (note: If I ever did land on that show, #1 rule…never let them see you cry) and otherwise being a wasteland of vacuousness. I’d love to bring a a certain sense of charm and revived smarts to the show.
Is that such a bad thing to wish for?
I want to poke my head out of the water (much like that duck below) and scream, “ABC, you honestly and truly don’t know what you’re missing in this little package right here” (picture me smiling as I flauntingly trace my hands up and down my side…).
Ironically, that’s the same thing I want to scream to most guys. Coincidence there? Oh, I do indeed think so. Most definitely.
But is that like trying to put a prostitute in a high-class designer dress and calling her a Lady of the Night? Or calling a stripper an exotic dancer? You can dress something up in something different, but at the core, you know you can’t change what it is?
What would you like to see changed on TV, especially in the way of how those with disabilities are represented?
[Photos via Sabino]