Let’s be honest, the stigma around people in wheelchairs is disgusting and can be so demoralizing. Society sees someone in a wheelchair, and their first thought is often something along the lines of “...oh how sad” or “being in a wheelchair must be so restricting.”
In reality, that’s the exact opposite of what a wheelchair user feels.
Society has built this huge stigma around the terms “wheelchair-bound” or “confined to a wheelchair,” making it seem like wheelchairs are chains of restriction. Instead, they’re the exact opposite!
Wheelchairs are actually tools for freedom, not restriction. They allow disabled people the ability to move independently and do things that their bodies otherwise wouldn’t let them do.
Image description: A photo of Alyssa Silva sitting in her wheelchair outside. The text reads: “My wheelchair is more than just a mobility device. It's my vehicle to freedom.” -Alyssa Silva, Intimately’s Chief Creative Officer
Different types of wheelchair users
There are different types of wheelchair users, and their dependence on wheelchairs differs. Some people use a wheelchair daily because they cannot walk for one reason or another. There are also people who only use wheelchairs sometimes, these people are called “ambulatory wheelchair users.”
Why would someone only need a wheelchair sometimes? Some people with chronic illnesses have good and bad days. They have days when they aren’t able to walk and need a wheelchair for assistance. And days when they don’t. Just because they don’t require a wheelchair every day doesn’t mean they’re faking it or trying to get attention. Often ambulatory wheelchair users are using it to help them continue their lives without much interruption.
Unfortunately, society also has wheelchair users stigmatized to be 65+ aged adults, when in reality there isn’t an age minimum. You are never too young or too old to use a wheelchair! And that goes for people who use mobility aids, too.
Because there isn’t really an age criterion for wheelchair users, younger disabled women can often be told ableism things like “you’re pretty for a girl in a wheelchair,” but it's the 21st-century! Wheelchairs don’t affect someone’s level of attractiveness or desirability!
Image description: A photo of Emma Bailey sitting on grass with her wheelchair behind her. The text reads: “A lot of non-disabled people think that wheelchairs hold us back in life when in reality it's what gives us our freedom.” -Emma Bailey, Intimately’s social media manager
And if you didn’t know, two of Intimately’s finest staff, Chief Creative Officer Alyssa and Social Media Manager Emma are both wheelchair users as you may see above.
So moral of the story, wheelchairs are awesome. They’re helpful, not a hindrance. And wheelchair users celebrate their freedoms by being able to be independent in them. Share this blog with your non-wheelchair user friends!