Blog – Intimidation porn > Inspiration porn

By Alicia

One of my favorite things to do is listen to TED Talks. They have such a variety of subjects, one being disability, and pleasantly there are quite a few videos about disability issues and ideas. One of my favorite speakers is Stella Young (RIP). She speaks on the idea of “Inspiration Porn”. She explains in her talk:

I am not here to inspire you. I am here to tell you that we have been lied to about disability. Yeah, we’ve been sold the lie that disability is a Bad Thing, capital B, capital T. It’s a bad thing, and to live with a 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 even further via social media. You may have seen images like this one: “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” Or this one: “Your excuse is invalid.” Indeed. Or this one: “Before you quit, try!” These are just a couple of examples, but there are a lot of these images out there. You know, you might have seen the one, the little girl with no hands drawing a picture with a pencil held in her mouth. You might have seen a child running on carbon fiber prosthetic legs. And these images, there are lots of them out there, they are what we call inspiration porn. And I use the term porn deliberately, because they objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group of people. So in this case, we’re objectifying disabled people for the benefit of nondisabled people. The purpose of these images is to inspire you, to motivate you, so that we can look at them and think, “Well, however bad my life is, it could be worse. I could be that person.” But what if you are that person? I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve been approached by strangers wanting to tell me that they think I’m brave or inspirational, and this was long before my work had any kind of public profile. They were just kind of congratulating me for managing to get up in the morning and remember my own name. And it is objectifying. These images, those images objectify disabled people for the benefit of nondisabled people. They are there so that you can look at them and think that things aren’t so bad for you, to put your worries into perspective.

Stella paints Inspiration Porn as something objectifying and at me point, I did agree with her. Social media profiles of amputees and other people with disabilities are there to “inspire others”….after college, I started to see it quite differently. I don’t see it as Inspiration Porn anymore, I see it as Intimidation Porn. The disabled people who put themselves out there on social media (myself included) are not looking for any sympathy from able-bodied people, we are showing off!! We are rubbing how amazing we are in the face of every able-bodied naysayer and fan and we do not feel bad about it! We put ourselves out there to intimidate able-bodied people and to make them double take! You aren’t saying: “Aww look at her, poor thing.” You are saying: “Holy shit, did you see what this girl did?! She’d badass!!

I find Instagram to be the best place for this Inspiration/Intimidation Porn (whichever you choose to adapt😛 ). Below are some accounts I follow and I urge others to also if they want to continue seeing all these badass disabled folks:)

@lahltn
Lindsay Hilton -Adaptive Crossfitter & Rugby Player

@theimpossiblemuse
Lauren Wasser- Model

@fotofetish
Jennifer Rovero (Lauren Wasser’s partner with more photos of Lauren)- Photographer

@mswheelchaircafoundation
Advocacy pageant for women ages 21+ who use wheelchairs

@oliveronwheels
A paralyzed puppy for all your sad days! Nothing can stop this guy!

@w0125t
Abdullah Mojaddidi- Handcyclist

@ossurcorp
International Prosthetics Company

@derekweida
Athlete and Former Military Service Man

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