Internalized Ableism

Ableism exists. Disabled people (or people with disabilities, whichever you prefer. I’m using disability-first language in this article), also exist. These people clash.

Ableists are (normally able-bodied) people who fuel discrimination and social prejudices against disabled people, essentially disability racists.

A disabled person is someone who has a major life impairment.

Ableists invalidate disabled people by discriminating against and starting false claims (such as “If a disabled person uses a straw, they hate the environment”). Lack of accessibility, could sometimes, be examples of ableism. This makes disabled people feel like burdens on society, rather than contributing citizens.

If you’re told something enough times, you start to believe it.

Internalized ableism means feeling less worthy than others, ashamed of who you are, unwilling to stand up for what you deserve, or even hating yourself.

So, for example, if someone told me that I couldn’t do something, the internalized ableism in me says I am required to prove them wrong.

I have come to realize I shouldn’t merely try to prove people wrong, but do what I want because I truly want to achieve those goals.

Imani from Crutches and Spice

Also, another example is feeling like a burden. The disabled person has the their head saying that they burden other people by having their needs supplied on a daily basis. You are not a burden, even if you’re telling that to yourself.

Lack of accessibility can also make a person feel like a burden, as it requires someone else to help them. Take wheelchair ramps, as an example, if there is not a wheelchair ramp, a business loses a disabled customer. Without elevators in multi-story buildings, disabled people with mobility aids such as wheelchairs, cannot get around farther than the first floor. Please, if you’re a business owner, consider your disabled patrons.

I’ve decided to give you a list of (personal) tips of overcoming internalized ableism, and maybe some can work for you.

  1. Writing… a lot- Writing is a creative way to let your feelings toward yourself escape.
  2. Finding a community- Finding other people with the same disorder, or anybody with any disorder can help. They may share some of the same experiences, and be there if you need them.
  3. Vent often- I take about an hour every week to vent, cry, and express any emotion that I’ve bottled up over the week.
  4. Using my body on my own terms- I’m doing what I feel like I can physically do, dependent on the day. I’m not doing things just to please/show other that I can.
  5. Resting my body- Anytime I can rest, I will rest if I need it.

I hope these tips and tricks can help you know more about ableism/internalized ableism. Overcome it, you’re worth more than you think, and more than you’re telling yourself.