A term coined by disability right activist Stella Young, a comedian, writer, and journalist who died at the age of 32. Stella who also happened to be in a wheelchair, automatically turning her into an inspiration for all of the humanity. As the society has a habit of labeling people with disability especially visible disability into “inspiration”.
There is hardly a day that passes without seeing an “inspirational post” on social media whether it be a person on stilts running, someone painting with no hands, surfing without legs or any of its variations with words like, “if he can do it so can you or the only disability in life is a bad attitude”.
Would you be inspired by a convicted murderer or by an image of a Paralympics champion certainly the second option sounds more tempting but what would you do when they are the same person, Oscar Pistorius a Paralympics champion and a convicted murderer? To celebrate and call someone an inspiration just for breathing and staying alive since they are living with a disability is wrong on so many levels without actually knowing about the person. Implying that disability is a sorry state to be in, teaching the already marginalized group that only mediocrity is expected of them they need no achievements to be celebrated for their image already is.
The society has reserved a role for the person with a disability, of inspiring humankind and has unknown to us enforcing it with every passing day. One of the evilest man to have lived Dr. Joseph Goebbels has said, “Repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth”. Unfortunately for us, there is more truth in the statement than what we would like to be, we live in a world whereby different means of diffusion of thought exists and it has become ok to objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group. “You are inspiration” a person with the disability has heard this several times young or old all because we believe in a lie that living with the disability makes you exceptional, it does not.
Inspiration porn is when people with disability are called inspirational or brave for doing all the things that the majority of the world does, objectifying disabled people. It’s a problem because it assumes that anyone with a disability must have it so much worse. Using the image of a person with a disability to make the ‘able’ feel good about them, to motivate to work hard, exercise or whatever, except disabled people aren’t objects; they are people. Normalizing disability through greater inclusion and repetition of the positive image in the media may be the answer to be seen as equal but different. Learn to celebrate accomplishments and talent because life revolves around living, not around disability.