Awesome Humans 18 Oct
Inspiration Requires Action - Why Inspiration Porn is Harmful
By Latifa Daud
For much of my life, I have just accepted that exclusion and isolation is part and parcel of living life as a disabled woman. Basic privileges of movement, education, and personal expression were seen as exactly that, a privilege. My able-bodied counterparts would call me brave and inspirational while I achieved the same things as them.
I have a complicated relationship with the concept of ‘inspiration porn’. On the one hand, it’s important to acknowledge the additional barriers that minorities and marginalised groups have to jump over to achieve what they do. On the other hand, acknowledgment is meaningless if it doesn’t trigger action.
Acknowledgement without any reflection or action is where the danger lies when you label disabled people as brave and inspirational for going about their daily business. That perceived ‘bravery’ only existed because every day, we navigate a world that was designed to keep us in the shadows.
Alt text: A disabled woman with brown complexion and brown hair is sitting in a black wheelchair against a wall of leaves/trees. She is wearing black framed glasses, a mint button up shirt and black pants. She is smiling with her hands held together.
So, next time you want to call someone brave, follow up by asking yourself what you will do to remove the barriers that exist for people with disabilities? Because these are the barriers that forced us into a state of ‘bravery’ in the first place.
It’s scary, I know. Where do you start? How do you know you’re doing it right? It’s scary, but the scariest part is starting. Once you appreciate why it’s important and the skills you can contribute, it’s a matter of meaningful engagement and keeping your intentions in check.
If you’re a designer, think about how you can design your product to be accessible. If you’re in event management, make your events inclusive. If you’re in advertising, ask yourself if your campaigns truly represent all people and communities.
At the heart of all of this is the engagement and visibility of disabled people throughout the whole end-to-end process. If you ask yourself why you’re doing this, that ‘why’ and ‘who for’ needs to be at the core of it. That is the only way you will get it right.
Alt text: Latifa, a young woman of colour is sitting in her wheelchair in front of a scenic water landscape. Her hair is half up, she is wearing black glasses, a white, orange and green floral top and a black skirt. She is holding a light brown clutch with her hands together. She is beaming in the sun, smiling towards the camera.
All Pictures: from Latifa Daud (@latifadaud)