Not Your Inspiration!

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What Is Inspiration P*rn?

nspiration p⭐rn is a term that was coined in 2012 by disability rights activist Stella Young. This term portrays people with disabilities as inspirational, solely or in part because of their disability and describes how disabled people are often used as motivation for non-disabled people. Stella’s reason for using the term p⭐rn was to highlight the objectification of one group of people for the benefit of another group of people. So what exactly is inspiration p⭐rn and why can this term be a bad thing? Let’s take a further look!

Heading: Ever seen those pictures of someone in a wheelchair rock climbing or lifting weights with 'you have no excuse' written underneath? An older lady is standing with her walking stick saying, 'i hate those so much!' Below the text reads, Yeah that's inspiration p*rn

What The Hell Is It?

A purple banner with pink text that says 'bring back the joy' underneath is a pink shop now button. To the right hand side there is a pair of space compression socks and in a circle around them the text says 'compression socks do't have to be boring'

Inspiration p⭐rn is images, memes, and videos of disabled people often used to motivate able-bodied people. Take for example pictures of a person with a disability taking part in an ordinary activity, with captions such as ‘what excuse do you have?’ or ‘before you quit, try’.

All of this implies that if a disabled person can accomplish something, then surely an able-bodied person can too.

This imagery has also been seen throughout popular culture for centuries. Here, disability is often painted as only being valuable when meeting the emotional needs and conditions of non-disabled communities.

The issue with this is that it reinforces the stereotype society has given disabled individuals – that they are unable to do the same things as those who don’t have disabilities.

It can “other” and dehumanise disabled people, and portray their identity to be solely their disability. Not only that, treating disabled people as always inspirational can lead to an unrealistic expectation for them to live up to. 

Some supporters of inspiration p⭐rn see these images as inspiring for disabled people themselves and consider it a positive term because it highlights members of their community making achievements. 

But there is a general lack of understanding about disability identities, and focusing on disabled persons as always inspirational or heroic only furthers this.

You are praising us in a way you wouldn’t praise a non-disabled person. Our otherwise ordinary activities shouldn’t be considered extraordinary solely because of disability.

I’m all for being praised when I do something truly inspiring. But it's really odd to get praised for just existing. If you wouldn't praise a non-disabled person then why are you praising me?

Before I became disabled, I was never congratulated for turning up to work. But the minute I started using my walking stick, people couldn’t stop telling me how amazing I was just for being there.

This is off-putting for people with disabilities because you wouldn’t praise a non-disabled person for doing the same thing.

I’m all for being praised when I do something truly inspiring. But it’s really odd to get praised for just existing. If you wouldn’t praise a non-disabled person then why are you praising me?

I’m not your inspiration. The last time I checked I can pretty much do everything you can, as long as my access needs are met (but that’s a whole other topic entirely!).