10 things to know about inspiration porn.

It’s time for another round of my “10 things to know”… 

I was all set to write about another topic, but upon researching for that article, I came across a piece of content that highlighted a topic I had to address: inspiration porn.

I’ve spoken about inspiration porn in the past. It’s those images you see on the internet of a person with a disability and some quotes like “the only disability in life is a bad attitude”, or “you can do anything if you put your mind to it.” Inspiration porn is defined as “the objectification of disabled people for the benefit of the non-disabled” and although it’s explained referencing images, it comes in many forms. Check out Stella Young’s Ted X where she made the term popular and nails the topic https://www.ted.com/talks/stella_young_i_m_not_your_inspiration_thank_you_very_much/transcript?language=en. 

Now it’s common in so many other forms that It’s easy to fall for it when you aren’t aware you’re being fed inspiration porn. So here goes my 10 things to know about inspiration porn. 

1. Inspiration porn can be found in articles talking about disability. Although it’s clickbait, a good example of this is https://www.dailybulletin.com.au/daily-magazine/51118-10-things-to-know-about-disabled-people – when I came across this website, I was floored with how cringeworthy it was. The use of “they” and talking about people with disabilities as if we are some kind of angels, in need of saving, and as if having a disability makes us all the same. If you come across anything written that talks about us in the third person, be wary of it. The best source of information about disability comes from information from people with disabilities. 

2. News articles that talk about people with disabilities doing ordinary things is inspiration porn. Or showing a child being kind to their sibling with a disability. Note, it’s not the event, but how it is being used. 

3. People talking/sharing videos about the kind things they’ve done for a person with a disability is inspiration porn (remember those Youtube videos of people filming themselves giving homeless people icy poles etc? Think of that in terms of people with disabilities). 

4. Asking a person with a disability to objectify their disability (play up the disability) in a way that is inauthentic to them to promote a particular message or cause. This one is personal to me. Years ago I took part in the promotion of something and was asked to demonstrate in a photo what this particular thing meant for me. I did so and that photo did not show my disability, because it was irrelevant to the brief. I was approached by one of the project members to redo the photo because they wanted to show how great this particular thing was for me as a person with a disability. I have felt rather angry about this incident over the years because I was being asked to involve myself in inspiration porn for the benefit of their cause, but in hindsight, inspiration porn is so insidious, they probably had no idea what they were doing. 

5. It is used to stop society from addressing issues of accessibility and inclusion. If you see a person with a disability doing something “in the face of adversity”, then surely all people with disabilities can find a way to overcome barriers. 

6. Stock photos are full of inspiration porn. Try searching for photos about disability that don’t show a person with a disability doing something deemed inspirational or smiling whilst being helped by a person without a disability, or something medical-related. 

7. Tokenism is another form of inspiration porn. Having a person with a disability included in something purely for show or to make up a target, without utilising the skills of that person. 

8. How we say things can come out as inspirational porn. Using words such as ‘brave’, ‘courageous’, ‘inspirational’, I’ve had people in the street come up to me and tell me I’m inspirational purely because I’m in the street. These people have not been used to seeing people with disabilities around, doing stuff. 

9. If what you are viewing is a story of a person with a disability doing something, but if replaced by a person without a disability doing the same thing it would be considered commonplace, chances are you are looking at inspiration porn. 

10. While writing this list I had to think about what I write about and post to consider if I am buying into the inspiration porn game. I have had people comment about my content being inspiring when it’s not intended to be, and those people are generally people without disabilities. This can be frustrating but I am aware that people are just so conditioned to not hear or see stuff from us, that anything we do is inspirational to them. At times it makes me want to hide under a rock because I’d like to be able to just do things without people going “wow”, but that is part and parcel of it all. What I post, although it may be seen as inspirational to some, is not intended in that way, unless I explicitly state I want to inspire people. The more we talk about these issues, I hope we inspire people to become disability a11ies in helping to change the issues that persist in society positing us as amazing human beings because we’re existing in a world that’s still not 100% accessible and inclusive for us. 

Be sure to check out the Ainslee Hooper Chats with… podcast on Spotify & Apple Podcasts where I chat to interesting folk in the disability community where we talk about issues in an attempt to address stereotypes, allowing people to see who we are and the issues that prevent society seeing the real deal. 

Related Posts

Comments

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *