Disability rights activist Stella Young coined the term “Inspiration Porn” in 2012 in an op-ed for the ABC in which she described it as “an image of a person with a disability, often a kid, doing something completely ordinary – like playing, or talking, or running, or drawing a picture, or hitting a tennis ball – carrying a caption like “your excuse is invalid” or “before you quit, try”.
Inspiration porn, according to Young, is “there so that non-disabled people can put their worries into perspective. It’s there so that non-disabled people can look at us and think ‘well, it could be worse… I could be that person’.”
This is something that Carly Findlay, writer, speaker and appearance activist, who lives with a rare genetic skin condition called Ichthyosis, knows all too well.
“A lot of people tell me I’ve made them feel better about their skin or made them put their health into perspective, but I’m not their teachable moment,” Carly tells marie claire as part of its initiative with T2 to break through the barriers of ignorance “I’m not here to make someone feel better about their own situation.”
marie claire and T2 have teamed up to encourage people to overcome ignorance by sharing raw, candid conversations over a cup of tea. At a recent activation, people were invited inside pop-up boxes in Sydney’s Entertainment Quarter and Melbourne’s Federation Square for a chat and a cuppa and no topic was off limits.
“Difference in other people makes people very uncomfortable,” adds Carly, who believes that when people are asking her if she wants a cure for her condition that it is actually rooted in their own need to feel more comfortable. “I’m not wanting a cure. I’m not looking to change myself. I don’t want a cure to placate society, I would like to keep doing what I’m doing and defy their expectations.”
A sentiment shared by AJ Clementine, a transgender woman who has undergone gender reassignment surgery. AJ has faced her share of bullying and discrimination after she began transitioning as a teenager and believes ignorance in the media perpetuates an idea of what trans people are.
AJ, spoke candidly over a cup of tea about her life, admitting she has struggled with people who assume they know her and her situation because of what they have read in an article or seen on TV.
“There wasn’t information about it and in the media they would try and portray trans people as this scary, crazy thing that shouldn’t be happening,” AJ tells marie claire and T2, admitting she struggled to find role models she could look up to in the media. “Being a 12-year-old I was like I can’t be this, because there were no other people I could relate to.”
“If we can just start focusing on human beings and getting to know them as a person besides their labels or who they are, it’s up to you whether you want to combat that ignorance and find information for yourself.”
There is beauty in our differences but there is danger in ignorance, so the next time you don’t understand a situation, or before you judge someone else’s life, take the time to ask questions, find out the facts or put yourself in someone else’s shoes – or better yet, invite them over for a cuppa and open up the conversation.
Keen to discover more on how we can break down ignorance? Click here and join us in the conversation.