“It’s not cool to be in a wheelchair.”
“No one wants to be in a wheelchair.”
“A disability isn’t something to be proud of.”
These are just some of the ableist things people have said to me. Obviously, I didn’t listen because I was far too busy LOVING my disabled body!!! Please, don’t be like these people, but if you ARE one of those people: Let’s talk about disability and pride for a minute!
After my viral tweet, I noticed something very interesting: I don’t have many photos that show my whole wheelchair. Can you believe that, friends? It was quite a shock, to say the least, because my wheelchair is a huge part of my life. Why is that, I wondered?? Maybe part of the reason is because I take so many selfies and lost one of those cool selfie sticks that my cousin gave us a couple years ago.
Whatever the reason, I’ve been on a mission to change that, to make my wheelchair just as much a part of a photo as my smiling face or my red hair. In fact, I even wrote about my wheelchair last fall in which I shared all the things my wheelchair has allowed me to do in life. Some people see a wheelchair as a prison, as something that holds you back, but you know what? My wheelchair has given me life. It’s given me freedom. It’s liberated me from the constraints of my disability. Without these fab and fast wheels, I wouldn’t have been able to work on my college newspaper, graduated college or teach the journalists of tomorrow as a newspaper adviser.
In other words: I wouldn’t be ME without it. So I’m always surprised and, frankly, angry when I see people fail to see just how important mobility devices are for disabled people. Do you think your legs are a prison? Do you feel confined by them?
Of course not! The same is true of my wheelchair. They’re my legs and I wouldn’t be able to live a full life without it.
Last year, I wrote an op-ed about the new wheelchair Barbie, so when I spotted her in the store over Christmas, I just had to take a selfie of us together! If for no other reason than to show my younger self and other disabled kids that they’re seen & they matter. Isn’t that awesome?!?!?
So look out, world…Barbie and I are rolling into a new era. And we’re here for disability representation!! I love my wheelchair and I’m proud to be disabled. Here I am, world. Who’s with me??? xoxo
Barbara Dimmick says
Looks like a very cool set of wheels! I remember a story about Andre Dubus and another famous writer, in their wheelchairs on the edge of a writers’ party. “Look at them,” one of them said. “The temporarily abled.”
I love that, “the temporarily abled”!
Carol N Wong says
You are so right! I use a walker and people tell what I need to do so I will not have to use them! I have a lot of TIAs and my doctors tell me that there is not much I can do to prevent them. The TIAs cause me to have a poor sense of balance. If I practice and give it my total concentration, I can walk pretty good for short distances. But I do not want to fall down at a airport, museum, shopping center. I want to tell them to walk with my poor sense of balance for one full day and tell me that do not need a walker! It makes my life better!