“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