People Are Sharing Phrases And Microaggressions That Are Ableist (79 Tweets)


“You might be ableist if…” is a new hashtag where people with disabilities are sharing the comments, from dismissive advice to backhanded compliments, that frustrate them the most and reflect a broader lack of understanding and discomfort with accepting disability as a normal part of life.

Many of them could probably be described as microaggressions, defined as usually subtle and unintentional expressions of prejudice. Like the name suggests, microaggressions are minor and could just be annoyances on their own, but facing a constant stream of them will eventually make you want to rip your hair out. So if your first reaction to seeing someone share theirs is to think they’re overreacting, or to feel like you are being personally attacked for something you’ve said without intending any harm, take a minute and think about why it would wear people out to hear sentiments similar to these on a daily basis.

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For one thing, people are tired of not being treated as the authority on their own bodies and experiences. We hope this is obvious, but someone with a chronic illness or a disability is inevitably going to know a lot more about it than someone without—they’re the one who has to talk to doctors about it in detail and try different methods for managing it, so they’ve probably already tried doing some stretches.

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Along similar lines, seeing somebody once doesn’t tell you everything there is to know about their circumstances. Somebody who can walk but sometimes uses a wheelchair might need to avoid more serious symptoms caused by walking, and using a wheelchair gives them more freedom of movement than the limited amount that they can walk.

On the other side of the coin, just because somebody doesn’t seem to require supports when you meet them doesn’t mean that they have no significant disability and appearing “normal” isn’t a challenge in itself.

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