I’m sure by now you’ve heard about Kylie Jenner’s controversial photo shoot, if for no other reason than it’s taken me so long to write this post it’s been everywhere and back by now (and maybe forgotten about by now).
I know people are mad about it, a few have taken a more positive view on it.
I seem to have a slightly different point of view.
I feel bad for Kylie Jenner, something I’m not typically known to do under many circumstances.
I read that Kylie used a wheelchair to symbolize how she feel trapped by fame.
I feel bad that she’s been so sheltered to things all while living a very public life that has led her to believe that a wheelchair, and by extension disability, is something that traps people.
Having a disability isn’t awesome all the time. I have to adapt every time I leave the house, and even in my house. People take things for granted every day that I need to make living life day in and day out possible. But disability isn’t as confining and restrictive as people think.
Without my disability I would be a different person. I would have different opportunities, I can’t say if my life would be better or worse, but at the same time I wouldn’t have my life any other way than what I have now.
My parents fought for years for me to have a wheelchair, with no success. I had to rely on being pushed in an oversized stroller; that was purchased out of pocket, to get around. When that didn’t work anymore I relied on ill-fitting hand me downs from friends, sometimes even from strangers.
Once that ran its course I lived a smaller life. The internet wasn’t as popular then so I didn’t have a community to be a part of. I would sit at home and watch hours of TV and hope that someone would invite me out to somewhere I could actually go without physical repercussions and thinking though every detail before saying yes.
I wasn’t an invalid, but some people might think that’s what I was, or what I was going to become.
When I finally received my own wheelchair, one that fit me, one that I helped build, one I dreamed of having for most of my life I felt anything but trapped.
I felt freedom.
I have freedom, in large part due to my wheelchair.
A wheelchair isn’t tragic, nor is it a prop, or a symbol or a restricted life.
I feel bad for Kylie Jenner because she has a large platform, yet a restricted point of view.
She’s surrounded by people who are just as misinformed (or maybe they’re outright ableist, I can’t say for sure) as she is.
This whole Kylie in a wheelchair controversy just highlights, yet again, the misconceptions of the disability community and just how ableist our society actually is.
We are not broken people who are held back by our disabilities. Instead we are held back by people’s perceptions of what living with a disability actually looks like.
Restrictions come from perceptions held by society as a whole, not whether someone goes through life on legs or wheels.