My parents never called me a warrior, and I’m glad they didn’t. I am one, but so is everyone. We’re battling our own issues every single day. Just because I have a disability, doesn’t make me more of a warrior, and I don’t need the constant reminder of my battles. “Spina Bifida Warrior” has become a phrase. It’s become such a thing as saying “my SB warrior” from the parents of children with Spina Bifida, and I feel it’s hyper focused on their disability which diminishes the child as just a child. Yes, there are limitations when you have a disability. We know that all too well. It’s perfectly fine that we have limitations, I’m not saying it’s bad. The word warrior to me makes me feel like a tiny little doll. It’s used so often when it comes to my disability. I can’t escape it. I don’t like it.
I believe my biggest issue with the way “Spina Bifida Warrior” is used comes from what’s called “Inspiration Porn”. Just this past week, I’ve seen dozens of videos of children who are called heroes and warriors for walking, talking, crawling. Yes, motor skills can be a difficulty for those with Spina Bifida, it doesn’t need to be documented and considered “warrior-like” on social media every time a toddler with Spina Bifida overcomes an obstacle. Every child disabled or not hits milestones at their own pace.
I’m really trying not to be rude. My point is, we’re people. Nothing more, nothing less. Parading your child around like they’re the most special person on the planet teaches them that they can have everything, and like it or not… they can’t. I can’t. I know I can’t walk, I’ve accepted it. I’ve moved on. I am who I am supposed to be. I’m no warrior princess, I’m not even a regular princess. I’m pretty average. But people tell me I’m pretty…. or maybe they tell me I’m pretty hilarious. I don’t know. I stop listening.
Ignorance IS Bliss
Special treatment only goes so far in the disability community. There is a line. I don’t want to be called a warrior or a princess or special. What I want is a fair chance. The problem with calling someone an inspiration is the way the disabled are generally ignored by society until it’s considered “inspirational” and makes you “feel good”. Those same people will park in parking spots labeled for those who have a disabled parking permit, take the disabled stall and use their phone for 20 minutes while a person in a wheelchair waits, blocks their view at a concert.
I might be a warrior, but not because I was hospitalized for a year, I live independently, go to the grocery store, travel by myself, or have a normal life. I’m a warrior for the unsaid reasons no one realizes, or makes no mention. I still don’t like being called a warrior for facing discrimination and outright ignorance. But many who face adversity just want to be what they are… people.