Categories
all opinion

Boycotting Twitter is a Privilege Many Disabled People Don’t Have

Privilege isn’t always in the eye of the beholder, but we already knew that. It’s a hard, immutable fact that many non-disabled do not see their privilege.

They don’t see how their privilege allows them to navigate the world with ease and without concern, how the world itself, in every atom, every conceivable way, is built for them – that other sphere, that different world, is built for them too. In both worlds, tangible and intangible they wield power – they make the rules.   

The rest of us – the disabled, the discarded – are told to follow them. Because why wouldn’t we? What do we have to lose? Have we no shame? Our lives, after all, hold little value – and, therefore, wouldn’t be harmed or reduced by abstaining for that, sometimes, ill-defined, greater good.   

Categories
all Essays opinion

Stop Questioning Whether I’ll be a Good Mum Because I’m Disabled

I want to be a mother. It’s a simple premise, isn’t it? I want to hold my own baby in my arms with the man I love by my side and raise that child to be wild and free and curious (and a writer because both of its parents are writers therefore it just has to be that way).

I’m in a serious relationship with a man who shares the same faith as me, we’re planning marriage and we named our future children on our first date. All this should be in reach but I’m forced to question it. Why? Because I’m disabled. 

Categories
all opinion

Why I Will No Longer be Sharing my Disabled Trauma for Free

Trauma and lived experience sell. But the disabled can’t make a profit. Nevertheless, there is a particular type of trauma that’s effective. Cookie-cutter trauma: some will cut at your trauma until it bleeds in a palatable, marketable shape.    

Our trauma is, of course, created by the same systems, the same unbroken cogs in the machine. Place your trauma and lived experience in, and what comes out will invariably be a ticket of admission: you can join the non-disabled, entertain them with your tale of woe or inspiration – and they will admit you for a brief period, believe in your humanity, as far as they’ll allow it.    

Categories
all Essays opinion

Jada Pinkett Smith and ALL Disabled Black Women Deserve Respect

TW: this article features bullying of black disabled people and disabled people being told they would be better off dead.


By now the whole world has seen the clip of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars. Chris Rock made a “joke” about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair loss by referencing the 1997 movie G.I. Jane starring Demi Moore. Demi famously rocked a buzz cut for the role, however, Jada’s haircut isn’t for a movie role.

Jada has alopecia which is an autoimmune disease that attacks your hair follicles, this causes hair loss. 

Many who deal with this disability have experienced different levels of hair loss. Jada came out in 2018 to announce that she was diagnosed with it and with the encouragement of her daughter Willow, she decided shaving her head would be better. 

Categories
all features opinion

Why are we so Obsessed with “Overcoming” Stories?

Recently, I have found that my social media timelines have been overflowing with ‘overcoming’ stories. People that have ‘overcome’ their traumas, their medical issues, their financial issues, and so forth. 

We are taught to admire the people who came from nothing, the self-made billionaires and the people who put their work above everything else in their lives. While we can all applaud these success stories, and recognise the work that people put into their careers and themselves, it is important to acknowledge that having this same narrative repeated over and over again can be especially harmful to the chronically ill and disabled community. 

Using Molly Mae’s recent ’24 hours in a day’ fiasco as an example, we seem to be spoon-fed this idea that if you want something bad enough, it is achievable – you just need to put the hours in. It doesn’t take a genius, though, to realise that this is not the case for all of us. 

As a chronically ill woman myself, knowing that as a result of my condition I may be unable to have children, I have often found myself thinking “it’s okay, it’ll be different for me” –  even though the reality is quite blatantly in front of me. 

There has long been the narrative that in order to lead a happy life, or to be truly successful, you must ‘overcome’ your burdens, your ill-health, or that you must ‘rise above’ the financial situation you were born into – but what happens when you physically cannot do this? 

These promises that ‘wanting something bad enough’ is enough to make it happen is simply an idea that is setting us up for disappointment. We don’t all have the same 24 hours, the same way that we can’t always ‘overcome’ things – whether that is medically, physically, financially, emotionally, and so forth – and we need to stop pretending that we can, or that it is a rite-of-passage to do so. 

Such a narrative reeks of ableism; disability and health conditions are constantly portrayed as things that are essential to overcome, and when you cannot do this, it seems to necessitate a journey whereby you battle your own demons and have this grand epiphany, that makes you realise your purpose as a disabled person is to share your story and inspire able-bodied people as they gratefully think to themselves “I’m so glad that isn’t me”.

Having a chronic illness means accepting that you cannot always be in control of your work-to-rest balance. On the days that my body feels functional and my pain manageable, I feel a great sense of imposter syndrome, and on the days that I can do nothing but listen to my body’s demands for rest, I feel hopeless – worthless, even. 

There is no tying a pretty bow on that and calling it inspirational, it’s a case of taking each day as it comes, and accepting that I need to allow my body as much of my ‘24 hours’ as it needs. 

If illness and disability is consistently portrayed as negative, or something we should strive to overcome, how are we meant to feel whole when our illness is chronic, or our disability permanent? 

My condition has no cure, and with the pandemic wreaking havoc on surgery waiting lists, my treatment plan has come to a steady halt, too. Pretty, colour-coordinated posts on self-care and motivation can only help you so much when there is physically nothing you can do to change the reality of your health. 

This is my issue with toxic positivity and productivity – we only seem to recognise and applaud success when there is a consistently upward trajectory. With this narrative of fulfilment being so heavily prevalent online, it is no wonder that folk like me struggle so much to accept our own achievements and success, as perceptions of success, ‘overcoming’, and what this should look like is almost always intertwined with good-health and ‘getting better’.

To suggest that the parts of ‘my story’ where I struggle or have to ‘give in’ to my condition are something I should ‘overcome’, is to suggest that I am incapable of truly thriving as a result of my chronic illness, and for tending to my body’s needs. 

My condition is incurable, but it is also not ‘inspirational’ of me to work through it – my condition is simply a part of myself that I am learning to understand, respect, and work with – not ‘overcome’ and thrive from. 

It is essential that we recognise how the expectation that we should persevere and ‘overcome’ everything that life throws at us is an unrealistic and often unattainable standard to maintain. You can be successful irrespective of your health, just as you can be fulfilled and content irrespective of your financial situation. 

I am tired of waiting for the miracle where I am ‘saved’ from my condition, or to be freed from the expectation that all I do is merely an attempt to motivate able-bodied people – “because if she can do it, so can you!”

How we spend our twenty-four hours is not something that can fairly be compared, as no two people’s lives or abilities look the same. 

Comparing ourselves to others and these ‘success’ stories online will only ever set us up to feel inferior or insecure in ourselves and our own capabilities when, in reality, we all achieve things at our own pace, in our own ways, and irrespective of our health. 

The only thing that needs overcoming, here, is the narrative that success necessitates us to overcome fragments of ourselves in the first place.

Categories
all opinion

The Problem With Parents who Make Their Child’s Neurodivergent Diagnosis About Them

TW: autism parents and parents acting like a disabled child means the death of a healthy child.


Paddy and Christine McGuinness did an entire documentary on their children’s autism called Paddy and Christine McGuinness: Our Family and Autism. Yet they still haven’t told their eldest children that they’re autistic. Christine claims it’s because their children are happy with how they are, and she hasn’t found the right time to tell them yet.

However, I buy the second excuse the least. Paddy and Christine have time to talk to journalists and their adoring fans about their children’s autism experiences but not their children.  

Categories
all opinion

My Antidepressant is not my Demon – it’s What Eradicates Them

TW: Internalised ableism surrounding taking medication, especially antidepressants 


It’s fairly often that I stumble onto anti-medication articles. Especially on social media where journalists are eager to push the notion that women can benefit more from ballet instead of treating their mental illness with the right chemicals that their brain currently lacks to fight off depression and anxiety. 

Currently, the NICE guidance is that medication should only be given to those who are the most “severe”, and that in itself is heartbreaking as you have to reach rock bottom before anyone can help you. 

Categories
all opinion

Disabled Women like Victoria’s Secret Model Sofia Jirau Don’t Need you to Protect Them

You don’t own disabled women. Reread it. 

You don’t own our bodies, minds, or choices – we are not plastic, inanimate Barbie dolls upon whom you can enforce your views and project your prejudices. 

You cannot preordain our life or career paths – our clothing choices. You cannot tell us we’re being exploited as you manipulate us. 

Categories
all features opinion

GCSE Requirements for University are Further Proof the Government Hates Disabled People

Trigger warning: COVID deaths, ableism in the education system and being excluded from it.


In their latest brainwave to get the public on side after a colossal series of blunders that have made us a worldwide laughing stock, the government have announced plans to shake up higher education, in a response to the Augar Review of Post-18 Education and Funding.

The plans (first reported in The Daily Telegraph) suggest minimum entry requirements for university students in a bid to get rid of “low-quality courses”, which they hope will reduce student numbers and see more people doing options such as apprenticeships.  

Categories
all opinion

How Period Stigma in Muslim and South Asian Communities Impacts Menstrual Health

In the summer of 2017, I was fourteen, and it was Ramadan. I remember a friend telling me she pretends to fast when she is on her period, so her dad and brother won’t know she is menstruating (during Ramadan, women do not have to fast when on their menstrual cycle). 

This meant she would wake up at 2:30am to eat with her family for the meal at dawn, then proceed to eat throughout the day in private, without anyone knowing. I was shocked, the thought of doing this seemed ridiculous to me. What was so shameful, or disgusting about periods which meant it had to be hidden from her own father?