On The “But They Didn’t Let It Stop Them” Narrative

pippa stood holding up social media-style facebook photo board and smiling as somebody else takes a picture of her
Image Credits: Alice Lodge Photography [cropped by Pippa for social media]
Something I spend more time thinking about than perhaps is good for me is how disability is portrayed in the media. I recently gave my first TEDx talk, all about how the language used around disability and success seems to be ingrained in ableism, and constant-real life examples mean that I come back to this line of thought time and time again.

The example that prompted this particular blog post is a phrase I’ve seen used in the reporting of disabled people’s achievements time and time again: “… but they didn’t let it stop them.”

They didn’t ‘let’ it stop them. They didn’t consciously decide to let their disability win, and went on to accomplish something remarkable. Good for them. Genuinely no sarcasm intended; I wholeheartedly agree that we should celebrate disabled people’s achievements and give individuals the acclaim they deserve, no questions asked.

The thing that gets me, however, is the idea that the person in question had any conscious control over whether or not their condition prohibited them from setting out to do something. They didn’t ‘let’ their disability stop them; does this mean they simply chose not to allow it, that it’s purely a matter of mind to overcome such challenges?

Moreover, if somebody reportedly didn’t ‘let’ their condition stop them from fulfilling a passion of theirs, does this imply that consequentially, I’m ‘letting’ my disability stop me from doing the same?

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18 Things I Learned In 2018

full length image of pippa in pink formal dress stood on red carpet in front of olivier awards photo board

Although I’m not a particularly superstitious person, there’s always been something about the number 18 in my family. It’s when all the birthdays and anniversaries and life events seem to fall, it’s the addresses we live at, and it always seems to be an intrinsically lucky number. And even though I’m the kind of person who’d usually laugh that off and declare it all as chance, I did wonder whether 2018 would be a significant year for me… and given the frequency of unexpected life changing things that happened this year, it’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed.

If you’ve followed me for a while you may also know that social media at this time of year frustrates me a lot and I tend to switch off for a few days, but I couldn’t let this year go without acknowledging or marking it in some way. But rather than list all that’s happened, let me share with you 18 Things I Learned In 2018 instead…

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Employing Disabled People Isn’t An Act Of Charity

girl in jeans and t-shirt in wheelchair on an outdoor balcony

After being diagnosed with a chronic illness halfway through my time at university, one of my biggest achievements to date has been continuing my studies, and graduating with a 2:1 BSc degree from a Russell Group institution in 2016. What I didn’t know at the time was that this was only the beginning of the battle; that the subsequent search for accessible employment opportunities would be even more difficult to navigate.

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