Stella Young On "Inspiration Porn"

Megan Griffo, The Mighty - May 14, 2014

I have been reading here and there about Australian Comedian / Broadcaster Stella Young doing a TED Talk in Sydney, and finally here is a chance to share the video of her talk. Any time Stella Young writes something or gives a presentation on disability it’s worth tracking down. As it stands, she is the author of my favorite piece of writing on disability, Dear 16-year-old Stella.

Here, she introduces the TED audience to the concept of “Inspiration Porn”, and gives a pretty convincing argument for why it is a bad thing, not just something that rubs disabled people the wrong way. She also asserts that disability isn’t “a bad thing”, which is an idea I understand and basically agree with, but I think is very hard even for some disability rights folks to swallow. Personally, I would prefer to say that disability isn’t “as bad as you think”, but I get what Stella means here.

Ironically, I found the video via Ramp Your voice, on a website called The Mighty, whose slogan is “Superheroes Among Us”, and appears to traffic in a form of Inspiration Porn. They present the video with seemingly no awareness at all that they practice at least some of what Stella speaks against. I’m glad they liked her talk and happy they offered it up, but it shows just how ingrained the inspiration instinct is, especially for a certain kind of “good guys / let’s all be positive” organizations and websites.