Not Your Inspiration Porn

Can we talk for a minute about inspiration porn? You’ve probably run across it. It usually comes in the form of a photo of some cute adorable kid with missing arms or legs. Often, said kid is doing some sort of sport while wearing specially designed prosthetics (we shall set aside for the nonce the problem with that in terms of what those prosthetics cost). The photo is usually accompanied by some sort of inspirational quote that was likely ripped off from a Hallmark greeting card — “The only thing holding you back is giving up!”

In other cases, they are more subtle, such as this Facebook post that made the rounds on Reddit (yes, yes, a hive of scum and villainy, I know). As expected, it made the rounds of the Internet as being inspiring to overweight people trying to lose weight.

So what’s wrong with that? Shouldn’t we be inspired by people who overcome obstacles to improve themselves? Well, yes. But the problem is that the person who wrote that Facebook post was indulging in a form of inspiration porn. The “fatty” (and can we please just stop with using pejorative terms?) in question is not seen as a whole person, but rather as nothing more than a feel-good for the person who wrote that Facebook post. In fact, the runner in question wrote a very nice response.

Herein lies my problem with inspiration porn. I go to the gym regularly. I do yoga. I bellydance. I do swordwork. All of these things I would do even if I didn’t have a disability. Why? Because they make me happy. Yes, when I dance or fence, it is all about me. And I am good with that kind of selfish.

I *don’t* do these things to be your role model. They are simply things I do. I should not be treated like a puppy who just did a particularly clever trick. Inspiration porn does just that. It turns me into that puppy, waiting for a pat on the head, praise, and a doggy treat.

Inspiration porn takes away my agency to be a whole person who just wants to do the same things as everyone else without it being about my disability. Suddenly, I am “brave” and “courageous” every time I step outside my house because, well, I am not letting my disability stop me from doing so. At best, it is patronizing. At worst, it turns me into little more than some meme about how important it is to be brave and courageous.

Have I done some brave and courageous things? Yes. But simply sharing the public space with you is not one of them. Doing the same things as nondisabled people should not be cause to slap that sappy Hallmark card saying on me. I am more than that.

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One Response to Not Your Inspiration Porn

  1. Emmie Mears says:

    “Have I done some brave and courageous things? Yes. But simply sharing the public space with you is not one of them.”

    This a thousand times over. Great post.

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