The Disability Stereotype

About the Author: Gemma Adby is a disability advocate and model that uses social media to inspire, educate, and create awareness. To learn more about Gemma and see some gorgeous modeling photos you can check out her instagram here!

Let’s talk about disability, the stereotype that’s revolved around the word disabled and the knock on affect it can have on a person.  

Why is there such a stereotype around disabled people, why is it that when you hear someone has a disability you instantly think weakness?  

Does it stem from the word itself, taking the word ‘Abled’ and adding the prefix ‘dis’ - a word that is defined as “apart,” “asunder,” “awaey,” or having a privative, negative, or reversing force. Or does it stem from society being uneducated over the years, built from years of awkward confrontation feeling like disabled people have to be treated differently. 

Aren’t we all different in this world? No two people are completely the same. So whether it's the way we look, how we feel, our mental health, our physical and emotional differences, our disabilities - we are all different. 

So how can this impact a disabled person? There’s no doubt about it, when you’re disabled you are treated differently. As I was born with a missing left forearm I spent years trying to hide it under baggy clothes or some position whether it was behind my back or covered by a bag. You can see the look on someone’s face almost instantly when you walk towards them, perceived in their eyes as a normal person, they then spot the lifeless sleeve missing a limb. Their eyes divert, they become flustered trying not to look and make awkward conversation “what happened” ....” you do so well considering” but “you’re such a lovely girl”. Why is it I that I avoid confrontation, simply because I know the outcome...Is it my fault because I hide it? Should I embrace it be confident of who I am? I am a confident woman put when you put yourself out their you’re vulnerable to stares, quick glances, comments, people talking “look at that girl’s arm” This can have a real effect on someone’s mental health. You almost start thinking that you’re going insane that everyone’s looking at you.   

I hope, that one-day society will change its perception on all disabilities, that one day we won’t be put into a stereotype. I hope that disability is represented more in the fashion and media, normalized so that so the next generation have role models. That collectively disabled people don’t feel frustration, anger, anxiety or depression. That no disabled person is made to feel this way due to how we’re automatically perceived and categorized.