You’re such an inspiration!

Awake again and feeling a bit better, though still a bit vertiginous.

So I want to talk about inspiration porn, as it’s called (again! sorry!), specifically the subset of it which says  “Oh, this kid has no legs, and look how happy they are to meet their athletic heroes, we ablebodied people shouldn’t be miserable.”,because an extra thing has just occurred to me;

Inspiration porn denies our ability to have good days, ablebodied or disabled.

Right. Well, think of it this way – Imagine yourself at seven, meeting your hero; Mine was Alexander Popov, he’d won the men’s freestyle 50 and 100m the year before in Barcelona, and had done the same again at the Euro Aquatics in Sheffield (an event that I had my arse handed to at many later, due to a combination of the postdome of a migraine and what can only sensibly be described as near-fatal depression).

Anyway, yes, here’s seven-year-old me, depressed and aching all over and generally having a shit time. And suddenly – light of my year! – I’m hypothetically meeting Alex Popov, and we’re hypothetically going for a swim. Pain or no pain, I’d be grinning from ear to ear.

The same probably applies to you. Who do you meet? Disabled or not, you’re going to be happy, you’re going to do your best to show them that you’re as dedicated as they are.

Now, you’re an adult. Sorry to skip the awkward teenage years, but I don’t want to dig through that many crusty handkerchiefs.

So, yep, you’re an adult. You’re waiting for a bus, which is late, again, and you’re ravenously hungry, you know that you’re going to miss your tea if you want to make it to the gym or the pool, you’re worried about those files that’ve been left un-solved at work and you’re pretty sure that your cat is pregnant. All of these things will knock the smile off your face, ablebodied or disabled.

Yes, sorry, you know how the internet has just got around to the idea that things like “I’ve got no signal on my phone” isn’t just a “first-world problem”, and how it’s massively insulting to an entire continent to assume that their lives are all so awful that they don’t get frustrated when their phones don’t work, because, hey, drop in the ocean?

Well, it’s just as bad to assume that a disabled person’s life is going to be so horrible that they can’t even have a good time when meeting their heroes.

I can discern the difference between days, and so can an ablebodied person. It’s unfair to compare the mental state of Hypothetical Ablebody Z to me, on a day where I’ve just turned in my best 100m time of the year and Hypothetical has just had to have his dog put down. Likewise, it’s unfair to compare me to Hypothetical on a day when he’s completed a huge project at work, and I’ve managed to unhinge my jaw whilst eating a flapjack.

On the 100m day, I don’t think “Man, and I did this with a horrible genetic illness!” so it’s not fair to ask Hypothetical to think “Oh well, I’ve lost my dog but at least I don’t have Ehlers-Danlos.”

So, yeah, quite aside from the way that inspiration porn makes us seem to be defective if we’re not constantly happy, that the people involved usually aren’t asked for permission, that there’s a whole genre which reduces the bar for “inspirational” from “doing a sport so well that their club gets a visit from Hero” to “made it out of the house this morning” – It’s not healthy to deny that people, ALL PEOPLE, have days where they feel like the world is out to get them.

Fellow humans, don’t deny it when you’re having a bad day, because that’ll basically always turn it into a bad week.

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2 thoughts on “You’re such an inspiration!

  1. I think this relates a little to one of my personal bug-bears – the cult of the ‘strong’, the cult of the sick ‘warrior’.

    What’s wrong with being weak or vulnerable or sad because it hurts and you’ve lost so much?

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