Friday, August 27, 2010

Beyond Appearances

Today I came across an interesting article about a female blogger who is tearing down preconceived notions about women with disabilities, one post at a time. Melissa Blake has been living with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome for all her life, and life with this syndrome is all she has ever known. To Melissa, this syndrome is a part of her, but it doesn’t dictate her life: a message she has set perfectly clear. In the article, Melissa sets the record straight on life with a disability by clearing up myths such as: “people with disabilities do not work, only want sympathy, are not independent, and do not want or need romantic relationships.” One myth Melissa addressed was that “physically disabled means mentally disabled”.

Melissa writes, “Whenever we’d be out in public, people would ask my parents questions about me when I was right there as if I couldn’t speak for myself. It was frustrating, but I suppose people saw my wheelchair and probably assumed my mind was impaired too.”

This really struck a cord with me since I feel this happens all too often, reinforcing the idea that people judge others based on appearances. It is always refreshing to read articles like this: one that addresses an issue most people shy away from in fear of offending someone or simply not knowing enough speak up. People should really remember how adaptable and resilient humans can be, and at least try to stop those ever-flowing preconceived notions.

To check out her blog:

*Fun fact: Melissa is an NIU alumna!

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