Do you answer some questions about your disability? Whether you’ve been disabled your whole life or you are new to the disabled community, you probably know that you’ll get a barrage of questions about your disability ranging from “What’s Wrong With You? To How Do You (Insert Inappropriate Questions Here). Unfortunately this is par for the course when you’re disabled and have a visible disability. Growing up with a disability, I learned early on that people were always going to be curious, always going to stare, but it wasn’t until I started advocating for myself in my teens that I really considered another side of answering the “appropriate” questions: learning, understanding, and eventually change. Unpopular Opinion? Possibly, nonetheless there have been various incremental changes in several industries in regards to the disability community and hopefully we are moving forward.
Before we get to the rest of this post, I just want to clarify something. I’ve mentioned appropriate and inappropriate questions. There are some questions that inappropriate right off the bat, but regarding appropriate questions, only you can decide what it’s an appropriate question to you, but if you’re the type of person who doesn’t answer questions at all, if that’s what works for you, great, but I hope you’ll keep an open mind while reading today’s post.
2 Reasons Answering Appropriate Questions About Disability Doesn’t Have To Be A Bad Thing
- Disability Is Not A Bad Thing / A Step Toward Normalizing Life With A Disability
- Answering Questions Opens A Dialogue With People Who Are Willing To Listen & Learn
Disability Is Not A Bad Thing
Disability is not a bad thing, read that again: Being disaabled is not a bad thing. Yes, living with a disability, especially a physical one in a world not designed for it, can be challenging in several ways, however, it doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing life. There is this misconception that living with a disability means you don’t go out, spend time with friends, work, have a family or do anything fun. The images of disability only in a medical capacity and lack of representation anywhere else only serves to perpetuate that false narrative of living with a disability. Nevertheless, in recent years businesses, at least some in the fashion industry have started to pay attention to thedisabled community with brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Aerie creating products specifically for people with disabilities while others have featured people with disabilities in their marketing campaigns.
Answering a question or having a conversation about living with a disability dispels those misconceptions based on how you’ve lived with your disability instead of those portrayals of disabled life. Having a brief conversation is a chance to share however much you are comfortable about your life with a disability. Yes, it’s hard, yes, there are times you’ll need help and things you can’t do. However, life with a disability is not a bleak one so it’s not a bad word as all of those politically correct ways of saying disability would have society believe. I am a disabled woman and proud to be part of that community.
Answering Questions Opens A Dialogue With People Who Are Willing To Listen & Learn – A Step Toward Normalizing Life With A Disability
When I first started The Sitting Beauty Diaries, my goal was to share my love of fashion and more about my life with disability. I chose to do this because disability or not women deserve to feel amazing in whatever they choose to put on and women with disabilities should have the choice, just like anyone else. Still we know that’s not always the case. The funny thing is a few simple changes can make something accessible or a shirt you see in the store, but can’t wear into your favorite in your closet. The majority of questions will probably be inappropriate curiosity, but when you get those questions or statements that are genuine, few and far between as they might be, answering may mean that your life with a disability is a little less mysterious.
It’s 2022, we have the ADA, services, adaptive fashion, disabled barbies, and a bit of of accurate representation in the media, but there is so much missing. While things regarding access may never be perfect because it means different things to different people with various capabilities and limitations, there is some overlap. Finding people who really want to listen, but the more we have conversations about aspects of disability life, normalizing our desire to do things whether it’s work, workout, wear stylish clothes or anything else, the more we dispel the negative portrayal of what many believe life with a disability is like and can show it for what it is really is.
When I started advocating for myself in my teens and people would ask me questions, if it made me uncomfortable to answer I wouldn’t, but it also depended on who asked and the question. There are some who say well it’s not my job to make others feel comfortable with my disability, others who say I don’t want to be the disability authority for someone or I don’t want to have to explain this. I get that and I agree, I don’t want to work at having someone accept my disability for what it is or constantly explain an aspect of my life. No one does.
However, society has an incorrect portrayal of what life with a disability is, it is changing, in some aspects, but not all and not fast enough. There are changes though because people in the disabled community or adjacent to it are asking for change, demanding it. If we can’t speak up to tell people what we need to make life easier or more accessible in a situation how are we going to get it? Yes, there are stupid inappropriate questions, but I’ve learned to look at each situation for what it is, inappropriate curiosity or genuine desire to help make my life or that of a person with a disability’s easier are too very different things. If I’m in a situation where I need something adapted so that I can complete a task, how is someone going to know that unless I tell them?
I love being part of the disabled community, there are shared experiences, funny stories and hard days, but unless you are living with it, live with someone who does, or have conversations with friends about it, you have no idea about it. There’s also the fact that disabilities affect people differently therefore they have different experiences and mobility aids, but there is some commonality where that last thing is considered, still if we don’t speak up about, if we aren’t even willing to consider answering a question, how is anything going to change? If people don’t know what the problems are, how are they going to work with us for a solution?
Anyway, this is just one wheelchair girl’s perspective on answering questions, unpopular opinion, maybe. What do you think? Do you consider answering some questions when it comes to your disability? Let me know in the comments.