I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much

[The following is excerpted from Stella Young’s Ted Talk from April 2014.  You are strongly encouraged to watch the entire video.]


Stella Young in wheelchair, white background For many of us, disabled people are not our teachers, or our doctors, or our manicurists. We’re not real people. We are there to inspire…. I’m not here to inspire you. I’m here to tell you that we’ve been lied to about disability. We’ve been sold the lie that disability is a bad thing… and to live with disability makes you exceptional. It’s not a bad thing, and it doesn’t make you exceptional. And in the past few years we’ve been able to propagate this lie further with what I call “Inspiration Porn” [inspirational posters and quotes about disability]that exceptionalizes and objectifies us. They objectify disabled people for the benefit of non-disabled people. The purpose of these images is to inspire you… and think ‘however bad my life is, it could be worse. I could be that person.” But what if you are that person?

"The only disability is having a bad attitude" with a red circle and slash through it.The reason the saying ‘the only disability in life is a bad attitude” is BS is because it’s not true. No amount of smiling at a flight of stairs has ever made it turn into a ramp… No amount of standing in the middle of a book shop and radiating a positive attitude is going to turn all those books into Braille.

I want to live in a world where disability isn’t the exception, but the norm. I want to live in a world where we don’t have such low expectations of disabled people that we are congratulated for getting out of bed and remembering our own name in the morning. I want to live in a world where we value genuine achievement for disabled people.


Stella Young |TED Talk “I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much”| April 2014

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