Rick Hansen is a very well-known Canadian Paralympian. He's won several gold medals. He's also famous for going around the world in his chair, Terry Fox style and raising money for spinal cord related injuries. That is amazing, and I am happy he helps so much. But just because he's an important advocate, does that make him a good one?
In my opinion, no.
PWDs don't really have much to look up to in the media. Artie from Glee I guess? Meh, how about hiring a real disabled person for the role? But anyway, because we don't have too many people reppin' for us, the ones do have tend to sometimes get put on a pedestal in my books. The thing about Hansen is he goes on about how PWDs can do anything if we just try! Follow your dreams, wheelies, and it shall all become yours. He's seen as inspirational, and he is. But he takes it in the wrong direction. Instead of telling us we all have worth and a voice to use, he applies the message that, "Hey, you can do IT ALL, just like the able-bodied!"
False. Some of us cannot do things even when they are adapted for people with disabilities. I can't use transfer planks to slide onto a bed or chair, but some of my PWD friends can. I am different, I have another technique. Some of us do not have athletic skill, even in wheelchair basketball or sledge hockey! Imagine that. Personally, I hate sports and flinch if basketballs fly anywhere near me.
But Rick's mentality is that PWD can always find their own way to do stuff. To me, that is silly inspiration porn. Inspiration porn is the concept that all PWDs can overcome our every challenge. That we can try our mightiest, and we'll prevail because the world always has a way. On top of that, is is the notion that if we do accomplish things, we are inspirational, worthy of admiration. But that point is for another post.
I want PWDs to know that hey, sometimes you can't do it. That's okay. Be realistic. Trying is great, but knowing your capabilities is great too. We're all surprised with what we can do at times. But realize that if you're unable, that's okay.
The hardest part about having a physical disability isn't what we are subjected to, it's learning to be at peace with ourselves.
And Hansen gets in the way of that.