Originally posted 11/30/2006:
Can I just say that I really dislike quotes like this one:
“I complained because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.”
Ahem, but what is that saying about men (and women) with no feet??? That they exist as morality lessons for all those shoeless joes out there? Or as objects of pity for all those folks whose closets are so full of shoes that they don’t have enough space to keep them in???
I think those quotes are really insulting as well…
I had a mastectomy in May — so every time someone complains about the size of their breasts, I feel like pulling up my shirt to show them how bad it could be… Then I realize that they are sad and shallow, and that their problems are worse than mine — because my defect is physical and theirs is intellectual.
I am curious Jana. What do you say to those people who say to you that you are so “inspirational”? I have never had a good come back for that. I know that they are trying to be kind and that they mean it. But it feels like a back handed compliment.
Instead of merely suggesting what it could symbolize, why don’t you tell us what it means to you? Make up your mind. Once you do that, I would love to sit here and imagine the millions of ways it could be interpreted.
a sometimes reader of your blog
What I was trying to say was that I think it’s a stoopid aphorism that demeans people with physical differences. Sorry if that didn’t come across clearly.
It really depends on the situation. Often I get this remark from older men (I don’t know why) and I sometimes retort, “Oh, come on, I bet you say that to all the one-legged girls that you meet.”
Even though I can be a bit snarky about disability issues in cyberspace, I tend to be incredibly generous to in-person people who are trying to understand my disability. I show appreciation for their kindnesses even if/when their actions make me uncomfortable.
Like most people, I have no trouble finding things to complain about. However, I also know that I’m actually pretty well off. I have three friends barely in their 40s who’ve had to retire on disability, my mom’s survived more than one cancer, several friends have had mastectomies or other major surgery – I could go on and on. I want to be sensitive to their needs but because I haven’t been there myself, I worry about saying something insulting, condescending or stupid. (It’s happened before.)
So if I meet you, Jana, but keep my mouth shut, it’s because I’m trying to keep my foot out of it. 😉