Sunday, 16 December 2018

Sunday Short - Can't we have pretty things?

So I need a new shower stool right. But I have this thing where I loathe things commonly sold as "shower stools" in the UK. They are so often aluminium and white or grey plastic. At first I thought this was some sort of internalised disableism, and in part it may be, but it's actually mostly something else.

The grey plastic and aluminium is very institutional, very medicalised. It is reminiscent of, in-fact often the same items as, those used in hospitals.

And I hate being pathologised like that. I hate being reduced to a disability and being classified as a medical problem.

Just because I have a chronic illness, just because I am disabled does not mean that I shouldn't be allowed to have personal preferences or style. 

photograph showing shower stools and adaptive devices made of aluminium and grey and white plastic.

This is just a part of the wider problem of how disabled people are treated in the UK. It is a symptom of “othering” and of creating an “us” and “them”. Disabled people are the “them” of society, segregated and kept in place, identified and marked out by their aluminium and grey. These hospital style contraptions are the modern black triangle patches*.

Only when we start recognising that disabled people are, shockingly I know, people who are individuals with their own lives and interests that have nothing to do with their health will we start to break down the barriers between “us” and “them”.

And in the mean time I have to deal with the fact that something as basic as a wooden shower stool is seen as a luxury item costing £50 and up: my choices are to buy something cheap and not fit for purpose or a sturdy but ugly and medical styled aluminium stool.

*Disabled people were designated with black triangle patches in Nazi Germany as part of the asocial group. However some modern disability rights groups are reclaiming the symbol for their campaigns.

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