Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crab Apples

It's been bugging me since I first saw it. It hangs on a wall just outside a grocery store where I sometimes shop. It's one of those typical hospital fundraising posters, meant to push the 'charity' button in our hearts. I've seen it for weeks without seeing it. But the other day I was standing by it, waiting for Joe to go pee, and I looked at it.

Here's what I saw: A young woman is struggling to walk, holding on to balance bars as she, with sheer determination, takes one step after another. Around her are helpful smiling professionals willing her on. Above her is the caption, 'Because she's somebody's daughter.' Have you ever had the experience of seeing something, being bothered by it and yet not knowing why.

At first I thought it was because of the stereotypical picture of the gimp struggling to walk, heroically conquering disability, rising out of the confines of a wheelchair and back into real life. I understand that there are hundreds of different things done in rehab, yet, this is the only picture one has of the process. There is a kind of message here about the 'courage' it takes to reach 'beyond the chair' and into 'a life of real value'.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's all true, but it's not the reason why the image bugged me. I didn't know why.

Today, sitting on the bus for an hour and a half, I saw the poster again, and I read the words as we drove by. Then I realized it wasn't the image that bothered me, it was the sentiment written above.

Because she's somebody's daughter.

WTF!!

How about a more appropriate slogan.

Because she's somebody.

It was the borrowing of the parents value to add to her's in order to make an appeal for money that bothered me. Like she doesn't have enough value of her own. Like without them, who gives a shit about a crip like her. Why waste the taxpayer's money - ? But this get's the taxpayer to relate to the parents in order to feel for her. Pity by proxy.

Let me say this - people with disabilities have value all on their own. I do not have value because Joe loves me, Joe loves me because I have value. I do not increase in worth the closer I am to dear ol mom and dad. I have worth all on my own. Maybe not as much as the hospital thinks I do, but I do.

But maybe I'm feeling this way because I had crab apple soup for dinner?

What do you think?

10 comments:

rickismom said...

A good point. I am not surprised it took you a while to pick up on the real "irking point".I doubt I would have caught it, but the point is very true and valid.
I have had an ongoing argument with a local charity group about how their appeals for funds make children with Down syndrome look like a terrible burden to the parents. They finally removed the word "terrible", but.....

wheelboy and son said...

true what you say. we're all individuals. treat us as such

enablescotland said...

You're right, it shouldn't just be about her status as daughter.

But- and it's a big but- I often find I'm more likely to fight someone else's battles than my own. A mother will lay down her life for her daughter, but might accept her own ill-treatment all her life.

So maybe it's less about denying the disabled woman's experience, and more about appealing to that side of our nature- the side that will stick up for others before ourselves.

wendy said...

I have to say that as soon as I read the caption in your blog I, too, thought "WTF". It's like saying "because she's loved by someone"...so what? I mean, it's wonderful to be loved, to be "someone" to someone else, but that doesn't change a person's worth.

Anonymous said...

I am a bit more mercenary. I believe the poster was designed to appeal to rich, older people who in the dim recesses of their mind recall the days of childhood and are willing to open their wallets to capture some of that innocence. The hospital wants to find a big donor...not a bunch of small donors.

FridaWrites said...

Having once been in that woman's position, though as a kid, I can say while you're standing there on the balance bars you feel like a stereotype, and it's just truly embarrassing and not an experience I want to repeat.

I would be upset by that message too--particularly because ofthe baggage I bring to it. Horribly, I think a lot of people do dehumanize us unless they're reminded that we could be someone they know; strangers can be cruel or just act uncomfortable if they don't see my family or friends with me. People do objectify. I don't think that the advertisement really undoes that, though--I wonder how ableds react to it when they see it.

theknapper said...

What I hear from that message is if she's someone's daughter it makes her human.....

Janine said...

Well Said!!! I am so tired of living in a world that devalues me because of my wheelchair. I am proud to be a gimp and with or without the chair, the MS, or the 'whatever' that I am labelled with, all on my own, just as I am, has value.

Kristin said...

I think you have a real point. Thanks for pointing it out.

Gone Fishing said...

wtf, Been there done that, we like to think that we have achieved everything we have by ourselves ad often despite the systems crazy blocking attempts.

I have always hidden the strife even small adventures create for me but I decided the other day that perhaps I'd instead tell my story as it is, not for sympathy but to encourage others thanks