Hi! My name is Chloe Tear, I am 19 years old and I'm a university student studying Psychology and Child Development. I have mild cerebral palsy which affects the left side of my body as a result of being born 8 weeks early and weighing 3lb 3oz, as well as epilepsy, chronic pain and impaired vision. During this blog, I will talk about what it’s like being a student who may face a few more hurdles than most. I hope you're able to follow my educational journey because anything can happen!
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My opinion on Kylie Jenner using a wheelchair as a prop
Firstly I never thought that I would talk about Kylie Jenner, but a few things need to be said. This is solely my opinion, despite the contrasting views, this is what I think.
If you haven't heard, Kylie Jenner recently has been seen posing on the cover of Interview Magazine in a wheelchair. That in itself doesn't sound that complicated, but trust me when I say it is. I don't actually think there is a simple way of describing what my opinion is, but I'm trying. I'm trying to show how this is so much more than a celebrity posing for a camera, whether the motives for this was to be bold or use the shock tactic. Also how I'm not just writing this because I think it is wrong for an able-bodied person to use mobility aids and disability as some kind of fashion accessory. It runs much deeper than that.
Firstly, as someone who has a physical disability it made me do a double take, were my eyes deceiving me? But after that it was the responses and 'justifications' from able- bodied people on various forms of social media, after people who use wheelchairs were adamant that this wasn't okay. Yes, Kylie Jenner used a wheelchair as a prop and yes it sparked a reaction- with the word "limitations" thrown around a lot. It made me uncomfortable to read tweets which were implying that the wheelchair was used to symbolize the “limitations” Kylie Jenner experienced through being famous. It made me furious. Luckily the symbolism of limitation couldn't be more wrong if it tried, but that's exactly why it shouldn't be portrayed in that light. Wheelchairs need to stop been seen as a limitation in the eyes of society.
As a part- time wheelchair user I am going to show you how they are so wrong. To start with when you say the word 'wheelchair' what come to mind? It will probably be negative... but why? Why can't we see it as freedom rather than restrictions. My wheelchair has enabled me to do so much over the last few years, whether that's going over woodland in Wales or just getting me around school on a Friday afternoon when all connections to my legs have given up. Without my chair I would never be able to keep up with my peers and live life to the full as a teenager, even simple things like shopping with friends! My chair actually puts normality back into my life rather then dragging it away, I can't put it simpler then that! (Despite it taking me a long time to realise this my self). However I am hit with limitations through ableism, inaccessible places and discrimination, all things which are put into place by society. Living in a world that still doesn't see disabled people as equal. Why talked about the use of a prop? When the actual issue is the restrictions society put on is for something which is out of our control- in this instance, wheelchair users particularly.
When being in a wheelchair it can have it's challenges, after all the world is not designed for everyone to be going round on wheels. Having to live with being in the way, or seeming like the biggest inconvenience in the world because you hit a flight of stairs. Being in a wheelchair part- time can mean that you're faced with judgment and misunderstanding against why your bad days 'qualify' for a wheelchair or not. It means having to work a bit harder to be okay with yourself, and all that it entails. Disability can mean waking up every morning and having no idea how your body is going to react to that day, as the concept of normal ceases to exist. It can mean learning how to get others to see past the chair, becoming proud of who you are, learning it doesn't matter if you are in a chair some of the time, regardless of other people's opinion.
Kylie Jenner. For her the wheelchair was a prop, and nothing else. Being seen as glamorous and beautiful, under the spotlight as a model. In the eyes of society she fits conventions perfectly: tall, slim, able- bodies... Do I need to continue? She is allowed to sit in a wheelchair and still be perfect, still be truly beautiful, yet women in wheelchair often have to fight for this. You can be beautiful because you are beautiful, regardless of disability or ability. A wheelchair doesn't make you any less beautiful, any less capable or any less determined to reach your goals. We just live in a society that believes that, the world can't seem to get their head around that one, coming up with comments like "aw you're pretty... for a girl in a wheelchair". Categorised for something as small as a disability on the beauty that you have! You see, if a wheelchair was seen as merely a chair, as that little bit of extra support that we all
Need in some form, would we have this problem?
I use a wheelchair part- time, so what?! I am 17, studying at school, going to go and get a successful career and have done so much over the past year- does that sound limiting to you? I love living life in a quirky way, making everyday interesting and just enjoying myself. A wheelchair is not a symbol of limitation, no matter how many people think that.
In order for me to complete university away from home, and get to lectures in one piece- a PA (Personal Assistant) has been vital in me being able to be as independent as possible. I have actually enjoyed the process of hiring PA’s despite it being a little stressful to find one in time. Yet, when looking for a PA, it had to be someone who could drive as well as being capable to suit all of my needs. By having a car it would mean that I could get to hospital appointments easily. However, when advertising it was often extremely hard to find someone who was fairly young (not that this is essential!), was capable of the job, could drive and was okay being with people aged 19- 21 all of the time. After 30+ applications it became clear this was all quite a big ask! Who knows my full medical history? Who would have experience in Cerebral Palsy, seizures and visual impairment? Who can drive and wouldn’t mind being with young adults all day? Who would actually quite enjoy lectures? There is a…
Dear Chloe, You're currently 7 years old and are about to embark on a journey of a lifetime. This journey will show you the world in a completely new light, it will show you things you never thought you would see, and allow you to meet people you might otherwise have never met. Unfortunately, this journey is tough, it will test you past the limits you thought you had and cause so much frustration and upset- but you are capable of overcoming this, you can find tremendous joy in every aspect of your life. You have just been diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy. You have never heard of this, and have no idea what it is! But don't worry- mum's done lots of research and has your back! These hospital appointments may seem strange, and unnecessary as you don't think anything is wrong, but it will all become clear with time. Ever wondered why you walk on your toes and fall over more than your friends? Ever wondered why you can't hop, struggle with maths and feel tired? Or hav…
I am a part-time wheelchair user, this means that one day I can use my chair, and the next I can be walking with my stick. Being able to use a wheelchair on a part-time basis allows me to managed my energy levels and reduce pain, allowing me to function more effectively in everyday life. I am exactly the same person whether I use my stick or my chair, so why does the behaviour of others sometimes change?
Over the last few years, I have noticed people act differently to me depending on the equipment that I am using at that time, yet it was when doing my food shopping, of all things, that made me realise what those differences were.
I've noticed that when I use my stick, people don't tend to mind. I sometimes get a few inquisitive looks as they tried to figure out why a 19- year- old is using a walking stick, but apart from that it is fine. People in shops talk to me, telling me how much the items cost and expect me to pay- good job really considering it is my food for the week…