Written by: Beth Hudson, RBKA
I’m feeling many mixed emotions about the Candace Owens podcast. If you don’t know what I am referencing, here’s the story: The Kardashians have an underwear line called Skims. They decided to add an adaptive line, specifically for women in wheelchairs. This adaptive wear makes it much easier to do their toileting. One person modeling the wear is a woman in a wheelchair who is both an SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) and a double amputee. Along comes Candace, who comments on the picture. She says, and I quote,
“I don’t really understand how far we’re going to take this inclusivity thing. I really don’t get it. I don’t know. If I’m wrong, again, educate me. Today I just want to be educated in the comments. If people that are in wheelchairs were thinking as they were looking around ‘you know what really upsets me... that I’ve never seen a bra and underwear advertised with a girl in a wheelchair.’…Why did they (Skims) do this? I don’t know why this needs to be done. I’m getting tired of this all—inclusivity thing. It seems ridiculous.” (www.ameridisability.com)
Just wow! My first reaction – totally pissed off. My mind could not wrap around the fact that she would say such a thing. She must live in a cocoon to not know one person with a disability. So it’s okay for people to struggle with basic needs because of their physicality? What a joke. I wanted her to be me for a week. I wanted her to have to put on a prosthesis every day. I wanted her to have to empty an ostomy bag five times a day and at least once a night. I wanted her to walk with cuff crutches 100% of the time. I wanted her to experience not being able to enter facilities because they are not accessible. I want her to have to get in her car by herself, having to put her wheelchair in the trunk. Well, the list goes on and on.
Oh, and she continues:
“I didn’t know we had to see that [people with disabilities] in our face. And now we’re going to have to look forward to campaigns where women that are in wheelchairs are now wearing bras and underwear because, we as a society, just cannot get to the bottom of our ridiculousness.” (www.ameridisability.com)
Now I just feel sorry for her. I hope she never breaks a bone and needs a sling or crutches. I hope her hearing never deteriorates so that she becomes hard-of-hearing or deaf. I hope her eyesight continues to be 20-20. I hope she never has a traumatic incident that totally changes her physicality in any way. Because then she would be one of us – how horrible! (OK, I’m back to being pissed off again!). I hope she never has diabetes, or arthritis, or cancer. She must have incredible genes to be an absolutely perfect human specimen.
The response from disability advocate groups was swift and well warranted. She asked to be educated, and she was. Will it make a difference? Not until she has to experience it for herself. We live our lives to our fullest. Who is she to keep us from doing so? This situation, for me, just pushes me to advocate for more inclusion and representation. Kudos to the Kardashians – I hope they expand their adaptive line.
Lastly, I feel sorry for Ms. Owns. She needs to take off those blinders and see the big picture. I bet she will, in some way or another, be part of our community someday. We should be nothing but kind when that day comes. Then she’ll know what it’s truly like to be human.
And Remember: You never know how much strength you have until you are called upon to use it.