Why Inspiration Porn is Problematic

“I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much”

~Stella Young TED Talk

Stella Young coined the term ‘inspiration porn’, this explains how disabled people are objectified for the benefit of able-bodied people. Young was a comedian in Australia and a disability advocate who passed away at thirty-two years old in 2014. Inspiration porn puts a heavy emphasis on a person’s disability and discards their individuality simultaneously. Inspiration porn has a high influence on those who have presupposed assumptions about disabled people. One of the most challenging issues surrounding inspiration porn is that people truly mean well, bringing in the connection between societal norms and behavioral intentions. While one may mean well when “complimenting” a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks or making an accomplishment, it perpetuates the implicit assumption that disabled people are incompetent.


A specific example includes videos that display babies hearing for the first time. The narrative of medical intervention of Deaf babies to be “normal” can be misleading. This narrative often ignores the reality of years of speech therapy, surgeries to qualify for hearing devices and/or language deprivation of American Sign Language. Of course, it is important to acknowledge that medical intervention to have access to hearing devices are transformative for some, but it should not be held as the default model to “fix” a disabled person. In the disability world, there are communities that are enriched with disability pride, culture, and history. For example, there are enriched and vibrant Deaf communities across the globe that prides itself on their Deaf culture and language

The loss of a certain sense such as vision loss, hearing loss, mobility and other forms are often stigmatized as being “less than” compared to able bodied people. This narrative often clouds countless disabled affluent people such as Frida Kahlo, Stephen Hawking, Nick Vujicic, Andrea Bocelli, Helen Keller, or Maya Angelou who have made significant changes in their times.





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