What is Internalised Ableism?
If we’re going with the same definition I explained in my other blog. The best way to describe internalised ableism is those negative behaviours and attitudes we receive from society being mirrored back to yourself, from yourself. Internalised ableism is a complex beast. So let’s get started on how it evolves for me…
Lack of confidence in my own thoughts
Growing up with many adults having an opinion on my life, whether that’s SEN meetings or care plans – I’ve lived life with many people discussing my personal decisions. That’s not to say that I’m bitter about it or think it was wrong – it’s just that I know it’s had an impact on my life. Therefore now, when I’m making decisions whether it’s what I want to wear vs where I go today: my default will always be “what do you think?”. I’ll always look to other people, panicking that I’m not going to make the right decision. It’s only now at 30 I’m realising why that is and trying to unlearn it. I actually don’t think it’s my fault though – as so many adults would say (up until my age today) things like “are you sure you don’t want your coat on? It’s cold outside” so in the end I’d give up and do what others said. It may sound petty, but all these instances in my life have built up. So now I’m making a conscious effort to think about what I want and stick to it. I’m learning that I deserve my own mind and to be respected in my wishes. Easier said than done though!
Thinking I’m not attractive
I’ve spoken about this a lot. But when the world mocks, laughs and points out disability daily – it’s very hard to see yourself as attractive and god forbid a sexual woman. I’ve written other blogs in the past about this but I think this is a HUGE issue for young disabled people, many who are even too ashamed to bring up the topic.
It’s only later in my life I’ve sifted through the ignorance. I’ve connected with genuine people who have lifted my confidence, given me compliments and god forbid called me sexy (soz family, shut this down pls). As I’ve said before I’m so comfortable in my skin, but feeling attractive is something I’m still trying to aim toward. I know this is due to the ableism I’ve experienced throughout my life.
Thinking I’m a pain in the arse (aka a burden)
And finally, the burden. And I mean this in so many senses. It’s the way you’re reminded of how much you cost for adaptations or mobility aids. It’s when you speak up about something and you’re told you’re “banging on again” or you’re in a club and someone calls you a fire hazard. All of these experiences can make you feel like you’re costing finances, time and energy that’s wasted. However, I’ve very much started to challenge this recently. I’ve been realising, thanks to my good friend Jennie, just how much disabled people are treated differently. I know that my non disabled peers aren’t reminded how much they cost to go for a wee, or sighed at loudly for wanting to get on and off a train. But, I see it now and I’m making a conscious effort to not apologise. I let the awkward silence happen and remind myself of my basic rights and needs. So – thanks Jennie 💕
So there we go – I’ve really cut it short there but these are just a few of many examples of what internalised ableism looks like. Can you relate to any of these? Let me know! If you do – remember, ableism is complex, the world doesn’t think about disabled people by default so it takes us more energy to catch up with everyone else. Be kind to yourself – you deserve it x