I know posting this in the wee hours of the morning may not be my brightest move but I really felt compelled to.
If the every day person isn’t aware by now of the damage that ableism (discrimination or social prejudice towards people with disabilities) does, let me be the one to to shine a light on it for you.
(I also discussed this subject back on 11/10 in reaction to coverage of a news report)
As many of you know, this is Kylie Jenner.
(Many will say who cares? So what? Ok, if the Kardashian’s aren’t your pop culture cult of choice, I get it, not mine either. Just try & understand why I’m commenting on it on principle right now.)
Now in all fairness, I read the Interview magazine article before I typed this blog post out. Being bullied at a young age is a terrible thing, famous child or not. She makes some decent points within the actual article.
But why on earth if you have an anti-bullying stance would you demean others by using a wheelchair as a prop? Because you are bullying the disabled when you reinforce, champion, & condone ableism in this manner.
I am all for freedom of expression in magazines, but it is an insult to many, including my friends I know who have had to (or do) use wheelchairs, to see images like this.
It gives off the impression that disabled people are less than human & trivializes the lengths that some people have to go to remain mobile.
(I will say too, as an aside, that I have been upset in the past with celebrities sporting oxygen cannulas & advocating for the use of recreational oxygen when I, & many of my friends, LAM sisters included, have to use it to actually breathe properly. While I see how it helps or serves as a boost for certain people, to me it’s an entirely different matter, it’s not an accessory. I have to rely on it to help my body function better, to be able to actually breathe uninhibited 24/7. It’s not recreation for me. I don’t have a choice. My body actually needs it function, I can’t really take it off. Unlike those who use the “beauty bar” can.)
Likewise, a wheelchair is not a convenient prop or accessory.
I had a friend as well as a few schoolmates (who have all since passed) who had Muscular Dystrophy. Their wheelchair was essential to them to remain active & mobile. This wasn’t always easy for them either since even if they had a power wheelchair, they sometimes had breakdowns or problems that sometimes left them stranded or immobile. Wheelchairs are not toys.
ALL disabilities, whether outwardly apparent or invisible, are not something to be mocked, trivialized, belittled or dehumanized, or more importantly, sexualized in this manner.
For those that don’t know or weren’t already aware, this is made all the worse by Kylie being dressed in fetish outfits.
I agree with many of the counterpoints made in this CNN article.
One could argue that it might have been better to use a disabled model for this, but it’s also the portrayal itself anyway that is irksome to me.
We already have enough issues with employment, accurate portrayals in film & media (they should be actually be using disabled actors for those roles, but it doesn’t happen nearly often enough), social & economic parity, & being seen for something more than a disability. Let’s not even perpetuate the stereotype that “fame is crippling” is even remotely in the same league.
Because that’s just the underlying message that the images are going for. It’s an insult to somehow equate disability as something to be shamed & ridiculed openly.
At the end of the day we are all human. I’m not going to go to Kylie Jenner’s website, Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter about this so she can cry foul, but I certainly am not going to condone ablelist images like this when I see them either.
Likewise, all politics aside, Donald Trump’s recent body language does not lie. It doesn’t match his words. We all know he was mocking that reporter & his disability. That totally is not OK at any time or in any context either.
I have news for you too, Mr. Trump, bringing your buildings up to ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) code is not “championing” the disabled or doing for them. It’s not a policy you can politicize saying you have a policy when you don’t. It’s called the law. You don’t deserve any accolades any more than Ben Carson does for following HIPAA policies as a doctor. There are no medals awarded for following the laws of this country.
Yet, somehow there’s always a way to wiggle out this or explain it away even when people are grossed out by it.
Instead, why don’t we use these opportunities for education & awareness at just how pervasive, disgusting, & damaging ableism really truly is. It’s just as bad as xenophobia, homophobia, or racism. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.