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Stella Young, Inspiration Porn, and the Objectification of Disabled People

Stella Young describes herself on Twitter as a: “Writer. Comedian. Knitter. Crip. Inspiration boner killer.” She certainly kills it on stage and in her writing. We’ve been fans of her outspoken work from ABC Ramp Up and other publications for a long time. Inspiration porn isn’t something new among people with disabilities, but Stella breaks it down in an April 2014 TEDxSydney talk where she explains why she’s no one’s inspiration.

Here are some of our favorite excerpts:

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you dramatically. I am not here to inspire you. I am here to tell you that we have been lied to about disability. Yeah, we’ve been sold the lie that disability is a Bad Thing, capital B, capital T. It’s a bad thing, and to live with a disability makes you exceptional. It’s not a bad thing, and it doesn’t make you exceptional.

And life as a disabled person is actually somewhat difficult. We do overcome some things. But the things that we’re overcoming are not the things that you think they are. They are not things to do with our bodies. I use the term “disabled people” quite deliberately, because I subscribe to what’s called the social model of disability, which tells us that we are more disabled by the society that we live in than by our bodies and our diagnoses.

So I have lived in this body a long time. I’m quite fond of it. It does the things that I need it to do, and I’ve learned to use it to the best of its capacity just as you have, and that’s the thing about those kids in those pictures as well. They’re not doing anything out of the ordinary. They are just using their bodies to the best of their capacity. So is it really fair to objectify them in the way that we do, to share those images? People, when they say, “You’re an inspiration,” they mean it as a compliment. And I know why it happens. It’s because of the lie, it’s because we’ve been sold this lie that disability makes you exceptional. And it honestly doesn’t.

Watch Stella’s talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxrS7-I_sMQ

Full transcript from Stella’s TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/stella_young_i_m_not_your_inspiration_thank_you_very_much/transcript


Stella Young is a comedian, disability advocate and Editor of ABC’s Ramp Up website.

Website: http://stellayoung.com

Twitter: @stellajyoung

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stellajyoung

Read some of her recent work: http://stellayoung.com/?page_id=20

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