Ignorance is a disability – not bliss.

In an online newspaper some time ago, a person known as a ‘fitness writer, trainer and nutrition consultant’ (hereafter known as Mr D - as in, well, I'll leave it to your imagination) was quoted as saying this to inspire his clients:

'Think about people with disabilities who would give anything to have the use of your body for a day'

This advice was his way to motivate people to get off the couch and get fit. It was in fact ignorant and insulting. He completely ignored the obvious fact that if a person is overweight, unmotivated and unfit then they could be seen as disabled. Why not just tell his clients to honour the body they've been given and not treat it like crap? He made it blatantly clear he views disability in a very limited and old-fashioned way. In his view, fitness equals perfection and you can't be fit (or perfect) if you have a disability.

Mr D seems to have the impression that everyone with a disability desires nothing more than to not be so. Well mate, have I got news for you! I am a person with a disability who knows that if not for mine, I may not be the person I am today. I don't desire not to be without it. Sure I'd rather not have the financial burdens it causes. For example having to pay my employees wages out of my personal savings and funding my medical needs when I left Australia temporarily to reach a goal in Paris.

I have embraced my disability (and kicked its arse occasionally) and used it to create opportunities for myself that I may never have had before my injury.  I know that I am not the only person with a disability who thinks like this about themself, so nah nah nah nah nah Mr D.

Perhaps I'd rather binge watch Netflix and inhale melted cheese

This 'fitness writer, trainer and nutrition consultant' also assumes that some people with disabilities couldn't possibly want to (in fact choose to) happily sit around watching YouTube cat videos and inhaling melted cheese all the live long day. That they in fact may mock those who pound the footpath and measure every calorie. Why is it assumed that they'd rather be sweating it out rock climbing - but oh isn't it sad that they can't because they are disabled? He probably also thinks that people with disabilities are only watching the entire ten seasons of some random show on Netflix on a Saturday because they can't play football (AFL, not that other football). I don't know what everyone else's excuse is! The assumption by Mr D is that someone with a disability would not choose a sedentary life loafing around if they had a choice (and of course they do).

He makes it obvious that in his opinion disability equals imperfection and lesser-than. He doesn't 'click' that it is insulting to use people with disabilities as examples of pity and what not to be like. In fact, don't use those with disabilities as examples of anything. This is as bad as assuming that all people with a disability are lovely, inspiring, sweet, loving, patient folk - 'You cope so well!' Or that if they are angry or sad that it's because of their disability - 'Oh I understand. It must be so tough!' Heaven forbid someone just be a narcissitic bastard or whinging whining bitch just because they are so.

Negative thinking can disable you

If I know anything about people it is that everyone has a disability of some kind. You, the next door neighbour, your children, the Prime Minister.  Anything that restricts you in your life or that can put you at a disadvantage can be viewed as a disability.  Physical or mental. Negative thinking can disable you. A fear of failure can be disabling. Excuses that stop you from reaching your goals are far more of a barrier to life than my disability of quadriplegia. Mr D's is obvious.  Ignorance is his disability.  This is far more problematic than my inability to walk (or kick his arse).

And by the way. I wouldn't want to have his body for the day. Mine's a temple despite its 'alleged' flaws and I like it very much.


Oh one last thing! Recently I was interviewed by Join Us in France about my life in Paris and advice I have for visitors who use a wheelchair.  You can listen to it here.

Comments are always welcome. No need to sign up!


About Sandra E Brown

I withdrew from my Masters (Neuropsychology) to write a blog instead, and to teach English as a second language. Life is too short to be doing something you want to retire from at 65! I now live in Paris, France.
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6 Responses to Ignorance is a disability – not bliss.

  1. Lynne Keane says:

    Well said!

  2. Jayme Kinsey says:

    I agree! Its wrong to assume that any group of people sits around envying other people all the time. Regardless of where we all fall on the physical, mental, emotional, or intellectual level, we all like our own thing. Just because some people COULD go out and climb rocks or jog ten miles, doesn’t mean they want to! Just like there are people who are amazingly brilliant, but don’t want to be brain surgeons; and gorgeous people who don’t want to be models. (gasp)
    Love your post! Rock your individuality. Its way more important in life than abs of steel!

    • Thanks Jayme for your inciteful and interesting comment! You’ve hit the nail on the head that’s for sure in a broader sense of how society puts people into expected categories and act completely dumb struck when a person chooses their preferred life. I know several people who defied expectations – a gorgeous tall girl (oh but you’d be a fabulous model!) who became a policewoman, a model who became a psychiatrist (oh I didn’t know you were smart!) a smart guy who dropped out of engineering to become a company manager (but you’re so good at engineering!). Your website looks really interesting – I’m off to check it out. Glad you enjoyed my post!

  3. Khadija says:

    Wow! You’re an amazing woman. I wish that I had your take on life! You’re so positiv. Teach me how.

    • Hi Khadija – having read some of your own writing, I’d say your own approach to life was good anyway! I wouldn’t say I was positive so much as simply not expecting things or people to be perfect nor to assume ‘life should be easy’. It’s much more zen to just embrace what’s going well and not dwell on crap that belongs in yesterday:)

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