Being disabled doesn’t mean being completely unable to do anything. It means having an impairment, something that affects your ability to function in day to day life the way someone without that impairment can. Disability is not a bad word, identifying as disabled doesn’t mean you’ve given up. There is nothing inherently *wrong* with being disabled. And a positive attitude does not make that impairment go away.
I’m disabled, and I hate neat little quotes like this. They reinforce the idea that identifying as disabled means you’ve given up or think you’re less than, which is absolute bollocks. And they put the blame for being unable to do things on the disabled person, when it is more often either society or the impairment itself which is the obstacle.
A good attitude will not suddenly mean that all the shops in town become accessible to people in wheelchairs, or that people will stop parking over dropped kerbs, or that employers will start hiring people with mental illnesses, or that someone’s pain that prevents them from getting out of bed will disappear and let them pop to the shops or someone’s lack of manual coordination will suddenly vanish and allow them to cook for themselves. And so on and so forth.
Some things you can find ways around, some things you can’t - either way you are still disabled. If you have to plan your route around town in detail because the council doesn’t bother putting dropped kerbs in enough places, or the camber is too steep for you get along it on your own in places, if you have to always have a backup plan for getting home at short notice without needing to walk far in case your pain or fatigue flares, if you have to arrange for someone to come around and do your cooking or washing for you or help you to shower… these are all ways you negotiate your disability, but they are all still ways in which you are disabled, because you can’t just live the way people without that impairment do. You can’t be spontaneous, or it takes longer to do things, or it’s more expensive so you can’t do other things, and some things will just always be unavailable to you.
This is what being disabled is.
And with regard to having a ‘bad attitude’ - think about how you feel when you’re ill or you have severe toothache or if you were in an accident and broke something. Now think about having to endure that pain or nausea or exhaustion every fucking day, and having to function through it. Think about living with stigma and judgement from other people every day because of it. Think about losing parts of your life that you loved and no matter how positive you are they aren’t ever coming back. Think about maybe living with the knowledge your condition will get worse.
People with disabilities have a right to have whatever the fuck attitude gets them through, and no one has a right to judge and say ‘pff well if you were just cheerier and tried harder you could totally live a normal life’. Not even other people with disabilities. Every disability is different, and just because you can stay cheery or maintain a high level of function through yours does not mean someone else can through theirs - even if it appears to be similar on the outside, you can never know what it’s actually like to experience for them. (And this is without even discussing depression, which is often mistaken for a ‘bad attitude’ rather than an illness.)
This goes both ways, by the way. Don’t assume someone’s life is terrible just because they’re disabled. A lot of disabled people are not suffering, their impairment is just part of their life and they’re perfectly happy with it, it’s perfectly normal to them. You don’t go around feeling terrible because you don’t have a third arm - some people feel that way about other people having two when they only have one. A lot of people don’t feel their condition is problematic at all, or only to a very limited amount, they are only disabled by the way society treats them. Some people do experience a lot of pain and suffering in some form or other due to their disability, but it doesn’t ruin their life, it’s just one of the many bad things that people have to endure in life. People are more than just their disabilities, and even if that disability has a pretty huge impact on them the rest of their life doesn’t just disappear. When you look at a disabled person and feel nothing but pity you’re erasing every part of their life that isn’t their impairment.
There’s also the question of reducing disabled people to inspiration for able-bodied people - this happens an awful awful lot, and that’s problematic in itself, but I think that’s probably a discussion for another day.
Sorry this is so long, but this bugs me, and I thought it would be better to try to explain why than just sit here fuming impotently. I know people mean well when they create and/or share these images, but I think it’s important people understand a lot of people with disabilities find them the opposite of helpful.