Inspiration Requires Action - Why Inspiration Porn is Harmful

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. 

A disabled woman with brown complexion and brown hair is sitting in a black wheelchair against a wall of leaves/trees.

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.

Latifa, a young woman of colour is sitting in her wheelchair in front of a scenic water landscape.

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

Read more stories like this here. 


  • Latifa put into words what I wished some people understood, particular back in the seventies and eighty’s when I was growing up. I will keep a copy of Latifa Daud words and give it to people, when they are just not getting it.

    Donal Phelan on

  • Great article! ​
    Of course people with disabilities and carers are brave and inspirational.
    They have no choice.
    What else would people say to make themselves feel better?
    We currently live in a world where if you offend, people and MEDIA name and shame you.
    People dont see that I have a disability and forget. So remarks like “I am glad I am not in that position” are more the norm.
    The word “Disabilty” is such an OLD term, it creates separation. Eg: Gosh, imagine if they included the para Olympians in with the normal Olympians? That’s INCLUSIVE but I guess money has a decision with that.
    I maybe cynical but I crave for people to be empathetic and not compassionate.
    I am 58 years old and could say I have some life experience. But I always find it funny when people help me, they want to help me in away they believe I need help.
    Imagine if every council just laid a beach mat from sand to surf for those whom have mobility challenges??
    Maybe I wouldnt have memories of going to the beach! Now I wish my girls to enjoy their time at the beach.

    I accept the world has come long way acknowledging people with challenges and those who require 24/7 care. Eg NDIS
    But it is still a fight to be and to some the fight was too big. I guess its going to be a generational conversation

    Vince Santucci on

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