By now, most of you have probably heard all about the little girl allegedly kicked out of a KFC due to her scars as a result of a pit bull attack. After KFC pledged $30,000 and other cash donations and offers of free surgeries came pouring in, it turned out that the story was most likely a hoax, perpetrated by the family to raise money to pay for her medical care (as an aside, props to KFC for keeping their monetary pledge).
I will be the first to admit that at first I was angry on that little girl’s behalf because I also have been asked to leave business establishments due to my disability. However, in light of the results from the KFC investigations, I was again angry on her behalf. But this time for how badly she was exploited by those people who were supposed to be looking out for her best interests.
The saddest part in all of this, however, is that this girl’s family has just made it that much harder to believe any future stories that come out about businesses discriminating against people with disabilities: “I call shenanigans! Just like that KFC girl! Obviously running a scam!”
And at some level, I cannot say as I would blame people for saying that. I mean, fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice…
But those of us with visible disabilities have probably at some time or another been treated just as this little girl’s family claims she was treated. And just because we say something about how we are treated does not mean we are looking to be handed a big payout (or any payout really). We just want to be treated like anybody else.
Now this little girl will have to live with both the physical scars from the attack and the emotional scars from being exploited as little more than a sympathy ploy or a cash cow. She deserves better. Those of us with visible disabilities all do.