Dear Miss Jenner,
Knowing what a privileged life you live it really isn’t surprising that you are so profoundly clueless when it comes to understanding true limitations and the role that mobility devices, such as wheelchairs, play in the lives of people with real disabilities.
You said the wheelchair in your photo symbolized your limitations. Like so many, you see a wheelchair as a symbol of what can’t be done; a misconception that is reinforced by the equally clueless media.
In her response to you, MTV contributor Ophelia Brown said:
“We live in a world where we are constantly told that being disabled is a bad thing. We are shamed for our mobility devices. We are shamed for having ‘broken’ bodies. Disabled models are almost always turned down from a job.”
While you have lived your glamorous life in the spotlight, people with disabilities have been fighting for representation in the media, particularly the modeling world for years. Only recently have models with disabilities been included on the runway alongside their able-bodied counterparts.
To the people who depend on a wheelchair for their mobility, wheelchairs provide freedom.
Freedom to move independently. Freedom to do something as mundane as grocery shopping or as personal as going into the bathroom alone.
Freedom from the limitations placed on them by their own bodies; but not from the perceptions of the able-bodied masses who look at those who use wheelchairs with pity or as inspiration porn simply because they manage to exist.
Kylie, my wheelchair isn’t my limitation. All the mistaken assumptions made by society that you reinforced with this picture are my limitations.
The assumption that because of my disability I am not able to achieve the same things as everybody else.
On the contrary, my wheelchair is the proof that I am a fighter. The symbol of my unwillingness to give up no matter what. The outward sign of my inner determination to achieve my goals. The hallmark of my refusal to lay down in submission and let go of my dreams.
My wheelchair, quite simply, is the very thing that gives me the freedom me to live my life.
Featured image via Twitter
April has studied political science, psychology, and philosophy. Back in the good old days she was a reporter for “old fashioned” print newspapers. In addition to news and politics, she also blogs about service dogs and disability advocacy. As a black woman with a disability, she is fed up with the right-wingers who would prefer that she and others like her didn’t exist.