Posts Tagged ‘disabled’

Seeking Awareness or Seeking Pity?

June 29, 2012

When a girl posts a status on facebook along the lines of: “I’m so lonely, why does nobody love me?” we note this is a case of self-pity. This status usually emerges from a girl who only goes three days without a boyfriend. This brings me to my next point: look at the comments on said status; a stream of friends telling her that she’s beautiful, countless hearts made up of punctuation and of course the standard “Awh babe xxxx”. You realise that this girl is seeking awareness. Social networking sites are there to let people know who we are with, who we are friends with and that we are in fact alive.

Let’s take a more serious case. A young teenage girl is left disabled after an accident. From ‘normal’ to ‘the centre of attention’ to (in her own words) ‘forgotten’ She tells others quite vocally that has no friends, no life and nothing to do. We listen and assure her of all the good things in her life however there is a fine, fine line. Her cry for help/awareness is taking over.  Is it right to make everyone painfully aware of her own unhappiness or is she pushing herself into a worse position than before?

I was told to always be happy; no one wants to be friends with a sad person. That’s what I did, I never voluntarily spoke about my spina bifida until a certain point in the friendship. Shouldn’t we encourage others not to linger on what’s happened? Being bitter is the start of a long slippery slope. It’s right to remember and remind others of our past, good or bad, but how can we expect others to see ourselves as ‘us’, when we are tugging a massive elephant into the room?

The girl I’ve mentioned is beautiful, bright and talented. I want to scream at people who think otherwise or see her as ‘disabled’! Is her public declaration of unhappiness a sign of desperation or is it honesty?

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What would she be like?

September 3, 2011

What would she be like? The girl born on the twenty-third of the third month of the year that is the year I was born.

 Do her legs slot into drain pipe jeans with shape and dignity?

Do her feet melt into high heels?

 Is her back as smooth as a back should be?

Maybe her skin is marked with the time people tried to repair her; maybe not.

Would her life be all that different? I’m not sure how deep the damage goes. Maybe her favourite colour would be purple and she would enjoy the smell of rain.

She’d be a dancer, one that trains for hours on end, although I’m not sure that she would pursue it. You see, she always excelled in math and English, perhaps a degree in English literature in Edinburgh or maybe she would become a business women, in a black pencil skirt and jacket with killer high heels to match.

She would settle down early but keep her head above water in the business department. A wedding dress down to her ankles, showing off simple white heels, decorated with lace.  Her children would be healthy and she would run with them as they battled each other in a game of cowboys and Indians. She would be a cow girl. She would work abroad and eventually move there for several months however she’d return to be with her family.

Later on in life she would retire, spend years with friends going to fitness classes and wasting time at spas in dressing gowns. Her children would grow into musicians who speak at least two different languages. They’d be successful at work and take their parents to dinner to celebrate birthdays.

Eventually she would grow old with her husband and whilst putting out the rubbish they would wonder how it got so good.

She’d look back at her life; the parties, the shoes, the work and she’d be proud.

The truth is, she would probably hate her freckley skin and straighten her hair to cover the curls. She would regret not going onto become a professional dancer.

Her friend would give birth in Holland to a girl with a ‘defect’ and she would write a ‘thinking of you’ card enclosed with the ‘Congratulations’ card. She wouldn’t know what to say to her so simply write “To Ben and Caroline, Love Amy and the family”. The scar on the inside of her foot, where she trod on glass as a child would bother her, she would use bio oil to cover the pink patch and would wear shoes to cover the unholy blemish. She would have gone to hospital on many occasions, her birth, her child’s birth, her second child’s birth and her husband’s death. On top of these would be the odd visits to a relative or friend, she would skip the canteen for fear of hospital food and leave.

She’s a good person, a nice person. She cares for others and many care for her. She gives to charities and is a shoulder to cry on. She’s different to me. We’re not really the same person at all.

I wonder if we had the chance to cross one another in the street, who would stare at who? The jealous or the curious; which is better?

Avatar: Wheelchair Bound Worthington

June 14, 2010

I watched Avatar the other night. What a fantastic film!

I’d heard a lot about the film, especially regarding the casting of Sam Worthington as Jake Sully, who uses a wheelchair due to a spine injury he acquired whilst serving for the military. Worthington however is not a wheelchair user.

The character of Sully is strong, opinionated and clumsy at times. The film highlights the fact that Sully is not a disabled character; he is a character who has a disability. I love the fact that James Cameron has created a lead, in this epic film, who challenges peoples views on people with disabilities. From the moment we see Jake, grieving the loss of his brother and going on a trip which many would say is out of reach for him, the audience loves him. His quiet nature and good looks win over the other character in the film as well.

Camerons reasons for not casting a disabled actor in this part was that he did not feel that disabled actors were up to standard. Another reason, this one being a bit more understandable, is that when Jake is in his Avatar body, he is able to walk. Cameron used CGI to create Pandora (the planet on which the film is set) and the Avatars. He would not have been able to film these CGI sections with an actor playing Sully who is unable to walk. This, I feel, justifies his casting.

I understand peoples feelings towards the casting of yet another able bodied actor as a disabled character however I think Worthington did a fantastic job and Cameron made the correct decision. Neither of them overplayed the disability and Worthington seemed natural and at ease in his chair. This is not to say that they glamorised his disability, in fact Worthingtons legs did not look like the legs of an able bodied man, they were thin and pale, the way my legs look; although mine aren’t as hairy as Worthingtons .

I am, however, against people saying that action figurines created, of Worthingtons character, with his wheelchair included should not be called an action hero as the wheelchair makes the character look weak. This is a load of crap. Jake Sully is a good role model, wheelchair included. If that offends people so much then I suggest that they buy an alternate action figure.

Hopefully the incorporation of disabled characters in lead roles will lead to casting of disabled actors in the future. I hope that this character and amazing film changes at least a few peoples views on disability.

Ali x

P.S. I love Sam Worthington, he’s Australian, enough said.

It’s Safe To Dance, Right?

May 31, 2010

Last week’s episode of Glee featured a dream sequence in which Artie (aka ‘Glee kid in the wheelchair’) gets out of his wheelchair and does a dance routine which most everyday pedestrians could only dream of doing. The director of the episode (who also directed ‘Dr Horribles Sing along blog’ which is fantastic – youtube it!) said that he thought Kevin McHale, who plays Artie, is one of the best dancers in the Glee cast and if that dance routine is anything to go by, he’s right!

A lot of people have disagreed with this dance sequence and I must admit that when I first started watching it I immediately thought “WTF?” However at the end of the number Artie is dropped back into his chair and the camera zooms out to show him alone again in the shopping centre, no trace of the dozens of dancers who surrounded him just seconds before. Quite touching, I thought!

I know that maybe a disabled actor should have been cast in the role and I know that some people who use wheelchairs might be offended but honestly, I see why they did it.

It showed exactly how I feel in the space of five minutes. When I dream, I dream that I walk, I make references to my invisible wheelchair, but it’s not there. Just like Artie, if I could go back and repeat my life out of my chair, I would be dancing on the ceiling. Sometimes it gets me down; sometimes I look for cures, like Artie, but most of the time I just carry on dancing.

The episode finished with a touching rendition of ‘Dream a Little Dream of me’ which was sung by Artie. It summed up the episode perfectly and displayed what the writers were really trying to get across; Artie has dreams, some dreams are there to grab and others are too far out of reach, but that doesn’t make them any less of a dream.

Kevin McHale is a brilliant actor, a fantastic singer and arguably the best dancer in Glee…even in his chair! In a recent episode of Glee, “Bad Reputation”, in which Artie and a few other Glee kids performed ‘Can’t Touch This’ in the school library, my Mum commented on how he used his whole body to move, even in his chair. Amen! As a performer who uses a wheelchair I can only ask the Glee writers to get McHale dancing more in his wheelchair in the show and stick two fingers up at the kids in my dance class two years ago who said “Why are you here? You can’t dance, you’re in a wheelchair!”

Ali x

Girl + Boy + Wheelchair = Hmm.

January 26, 2010

I just read a Yahoo question; a boy was telling yahoo that a while ago he met a beautiful girl and became friends with her, however now he has started ‘liking her a lot more then friends’. The thing is, she’s in a wheelchair and he’s not sure if he could cope with it- her disability that is. Most of the answers tell him that if he’s even thinking about that then he is not the man for her, others tell him to gain some confidence and tell her how he feels, that way he could ask the questions he needs to.

I don’t know what I think.

If I was the ‘girl’ in this situation and I found out my ‘friend’ had posted this on yahoo, I would probably be rather upset. Here’s this guy that I might have feelings for and he’s worried about my wheelchair. However on the other hand I think: “Sure, that’s a fair enough question; I might be that way if I was in his shoes”. I just can’t get my head round it. For years I’ve wondered if boys think that way about me, it’d explain a lot, trust me. In fact only one person, yes a boy, has ever asked me out right: “Can you have children?” I didn’t know what to say at the time! I asked my Mum because obviously she has all the answers but it just made me worry about my future and I’m only 17!!

If other people are thinking that way about my future now, what am I going to be like when I actually have to deal with it?

I went to a new clinic the other day, it specialises in people with Spina bifida (wheey!) and whilst I was there I actually felt like I could be cared for in the right way, they can give me the independence I need but also give me the answers for the questions I have, or other people have that I don’t even think of!

I’m going to answer him as if a boy friend of mine had asked me the same question:

People with disabilities can win gold medals, get on the catwalk and climb mountains. Now why would we not be able to be in a relationship? P.W.D.’s get married all the time, sometimes to other P.W.D.’s but often to people without them. If you want to love me, you love all of me, that’s wheels included.

Ali

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P.W.D.’s = People With ‘Dis’abilities (We should have t-shirts, I know!)