Week 3: Ability + Size in the Outdoors
Happy third week of the Ignorance Project.
My usual reminder that we're going to continue to work within the framework of No Man's Land as an organization with multiple platforms (website, social media, regional events) and tiers of representatives (staff, ambassadors, social media followers). NML touches a lot of people, and this project is about helping your organization exert its mission—to redefine femininity in adventure, sport, culture, and conversation—even more intentionally and successfully.
This Week's Readings
- This terminology sheet
- This short article about disability and representation
- Read a couple of these "Be Heard" stories
I think that it is safe to say that the team found this week the most challenging yet. This week stressed our basic vocabulary and brought attention to a handful of unchallenged assumptions around what it means to be fit and nondisabled in the outdoors and the wider media realm. We went through waves of anger and indignation to discomfort and ended this week feeling pretty overwhelmed. Our immense privilege has struck us in the face once again!
Alice Wong, the founder of the Disability Visibility Project, on the gross lack of disabled actors being cast for roles of disabled characters writes "my community’s "resilience" and "zest for life" should show up authentically behind and in front of the camera, not interpreted through nondisabled people’s imagining of 'what it’s like to be disabled.' It should be up to us how we portray the full beauty and brilliance of our humanity." As we examine our role as individuals and as an organization of media creators and gatherers, we feel that it is our responsibility to share stories that are told from the respective perspective, rather than touted as a great piece of research. To end our reflection, a statistic from Maysoon Zayid, "we [the disabled community] are 20% of the population, and we are only 2% of the images you see on American television, and of that 2%, 95% are played by nondisabled actors."
As women, many of us understand what it feels like to have our stories co-opted, glamorized, exploited and erased. Moving forward, we are committing to the belief that without an intersectional view of the world and of ourselves, this erasure will continue and we will live in a world where justice can never be realized.
Disabled: a descriptive term, not a group of people.
Nondisabled: the appropriate and respectful alternative to 'able-bodied.'
Inclusive language: words to use and avoid when writing about disability. Gov.UK. 14 August 2014
Be Heard. Fat Girls Hiking. 2017.
Disabled People Still Aren't Being Cast to Tell Their Own Stories in Hollywood. Teen Vogue. 8 January 2018.
Maysoon Zayid. Website. 2018
Hollywood is talking about inclusion more than ever, but not for disabled actors. Patrick Ryan. USA Today. 22 October 2017.
Able-Bodied Actors Play 95% of Disabled Characters in Top 10 TV Shows, Says New Study. Elizabeth Wagmeister. Variety. 13 July 2016.
Nearly 1 in 5 People Have a Disability in the U.S., Census Bureau Reports. United States Census Bureau. 25 July 2012.