I remember the first time it happened. I was walking into my high school about 8 years ago and I heard a few kids across the lawn say, “Look, there is a dwarf, take a picture!”
This was when flip phones were the rage, they were a little less conspicuous than iPhones, but a bright flash made the photo official.
I remember walking away confused wondering why they would want my picture; I wasn’t famous!
As years progressed, cell phones became more popular and society became obsessed with taking photos with them. We take photos of EVERYTHING, our outfits, our shoes, and even our food before we eat it! I am not shaming this behavior because if you have ever seen my Instagram I do the exact same thing!
As this desire to capture every moment of the day via of our iPhone has increased so has the instances of strangers taking photos of me in public.
When I’m in my sweats running to the grab a few things in the grocery store.
Out on a date with Andrew.
All of these mundane things I do every day has become a spectacle that needs to be captured by strangers simply because I was born with a physical disability.
I often try to approach the stranger that took my photo in order to tell them how it felt. Most people end up getting angry with me for accusing them of such a thing, or walk away while completely ignoring me.
Honestly, it is the most painful form of bullying that I have encountered because it takes my voice away.
The photo goes to who-knows-where and I am subject to ridicule and mockery without the ability to educate and inform people and lessen ignorance.
I am telling my story not for pity but to ask you on behalf of the people on my side of the camera, would you be my voice?
Will you stand up when you see a friend or a stranger taking a photo of someone in public and tell them it’s not okay?
If you get a photo from a friend of a person with a disability, will you tell them to stop and not pass it on?
I have so much hope for the next generation and can’t wait to see how technology can empower, connect, and encourage people with disabilities but I need your help! Let’s use these tools to lift each other up instead of tear another down!
Have a great Monday!!