you're ok they're mean

Pedestals, disability, and equality

When people effusively praise people with disabilities for doing trivial things that we do every day, it can seem like they’re putting us on pedestals.

I think they’re actually putting *themselves* on pedestals.

They think that we have a human need to feel respected. They also think that we’re incapable of doing anything worthy of real respect. They believe that they are nobly twisting reality to give us what we need. They think that we need everyone to lie to us constantly, so that we will be able overselves to fill a false sense of being valued.

They put themselves on pedestals that they can look down at us. They express contempt for us and expect us to see it as a favor. This is an awful thing to do. The things we do matter (even when they are small), and we are all worthy of real respect. 

We should all meet as equals. No pedestals are needed.

“Choosing to be disabled”

Ableists often believe that “choosing to be disabled” is a major social problem. They aggressively believe that most disabilities aren’t real, and that people could stop being disabled if they’d just make better choices. They think most disabled people are fakers who just stay disabled out of laziness.

They may see accessibility and accommodations as “enabling”, and try to get them taken away. Or, they may try to force people into treatment (whether or not safe and effective treatment actually exists.) Or they may just be mean and hostile towards disabled people they encounter. Or any number of other things. This hurts all disabled people badly.

People with disabilities often feel like they have to prove that they are not faking, and that their disability isn’t a choice. This can lead us to worry a lot about whether we’re somehow doing this on purpose. In this state of mind, it’s really easy to find things that feel like evidence that we’re fake.

Disability usually involves tradeoffs. We can’t choose to have all of the same abilities as nondisabled people, but we often can make some choices about which abilities to prioritize. This can superficially look like “choosing to be disabled” if you don’t understand how disability works.
For instance:


  • All medications have side effects
  • Managing the condition and the side effects can involve complicated tradeoffs
  • There is usually more than one option
  • It can often be a choice of what abilities you prioritize most, and which impairments are most tolerable
  • You may be able to choose to make any particular impairment go away
  • That doesn’t mean you could choose to be unimpaired
  • Ableists will think you are faking no matter which choices you make. They are wrong.

Mobility equipment:

  • People with mobility impairments often have more than one option, and there can be complex tradeoffs. 
  • Eg, which is more important to someone?
  • Being able to go further without fatigue (in a power chair) or being able to ride in a regular car (with a collapsable wheelchair)?
  • Being able to travel a mile on the sidewalk (in a wheelchair), or being able to use all of the subway stops (by walking)?
  • Being able to get into inaccessible buildings (by walking), or being able to go out without being in pain (in a wheelchair)?
  • Retaining the ability to walk (by spending a lot of time doing physical therapy) or being able to take a full course load in college (by spending that time on studying and losing the ability to walk)?
  • No matter which choice you make, ableists who don’t understand disability will see it as “choosing to be disabled”. They are wrong.

There are any number of other examples, for every type of disability. This affects every kind of disability, including physical, sensory, cognitive, psychiatric, chronic illness, and the categories I forgot to mention.

Tl;dr We all have to make choices about how to manage our disabilities, and there are often complicated tradeoffs. No matter which choices we make, ableists will think we’re making the wrong ones. No matter which choices we make, ableists will think that we are faking.

In the face of this kind of hostility, it is easy to start doubting ourselves and believing that we’re fake and terrible. It helps to remember that the ableists don’t know what they are talking about (even if they are disabled themselves). Making choices about how to manage disability is just part of life. The ableists are not experts in how you should be living you life; they are wrong and they are mean.

Not everyone is mean

Mean people take up a lot of space.

Mean people often make their voices heard the loudest.

If you are around a loud mean person, it can be hard to remember that kind people exist.

It can feel like the world is all mean people, and that they’re all yelling at you.

But, not everyone is mean. A lot of people are kind and caring.

When you notice the kind people, and make an effort to listen to them, it’s much harder for the mean people to drown out their voices.


when you see a customer mistreating an employee



Anonymous said to :

Yesterday I saw a man being very angry with a cashier while I was standing in line. She was obviously upset and nothing she told him would calm him down, even though she wasn’t a manager or anything. I wasn’t sure if I should say…

thesarcasmofsamwise said:

When I had my first barista job (I worked in a coffee shop in a grocery store) was still in training and my manager and the other employee left to go check inventory and I was on the floor. A line formed and two women started yelling at me for taking too long and saying they wanted to get me fired because I was a lazy shit and I obviously didn’t have a work ethic, and I was fat and dumb. And the guy behind them, seeing I was almost in tears (first job I was a teenager) after they left in a huff after my manager came back and issued them a refund, immediately said he was so sorry and he thought I was doing a great job and those women were ridiculous. After he finished his shopping, he came back and told me that his coffee was one of the best drinks he’d ever had, and I shouldn’t be discouraged. He wasn’t creepy or hitting on me; he was just being genuinely nice and took the time to come back, and like ten years later I still remember that dude, because his small kindness made me feel like a human.

"Don't let people get to you"

I don’t know about you, but I’ve experienced this a lot:

  • I’ll talk about someone being mean or bigoted towards me.
  • And someone will say something like “Don’t let them get to you”, or
  • “Don’t ever let people get under your skin like that, they’re not worth it”

And in my experience, that always makes me feel worse. This is what I eventually figured out about it:

Things hurt.

It’s not your fault that it hurts when people are awful to you.

It’s not your fault you care what people think of you sometimes. (Everyone does.)

Having connections to others matters. And when people we’re connected to are mean, it hurts.

Self esteem talk can end up being yet another stick to beat you with, and that’s not right either. 

Being hurt by mean people doesn’t mean you’re failing. It’s not possible to be completely invulnerable at all times. When someone’s shooting arrows at you, it’s not your fault for failing to make armor fast enough to stop them.

You’re ok. They’re mean.


Learning self respect


I’m twenty years old and I can’t help but think that everyone thinks I’m stupid. I stutter, I feel slow, I say dumb things, and I sometimes catch people giving me judging looks. No one’s ever said that to me except maybe once or twice when I…

chrisss89 said:

there probably are a lot of people in your life who think you are stupid.” i don’t know, this doesn’t really sound like a helpful piece of advice to me :/ other than that, i like the responses to this submission. 

realsocialskills said:

This is why I said that, and why I stand by it:

I face cognitive ableism on a regular basis.

I once had a friend tell me, “You know, it’s surprising to hear you say intelligent things. You give them impression of not being all there.” He didn’t mean it as an insult.

I get a lot of looks that I think I pretty accurately interpret as people reading me as having a cognitive impairment, and thinking that means I’m either stupid or dangerous and wondering what I’m doing in a place for real people.

I used to worry a lot about whether I was around people who saw me as stupid. Now that I’ve accepted that yes, I am around people who see me this way, because that’s the kind of world we live in. That’s what many people think cognitive impairment means. It doesn’t. Ever. Not any kind of cognitive impairment (including intellectual disability). People who think that cognitive impairment means stupidity are wrong, and mean.

I’m ok; they’re mean.

When other people tell me that people don’t think I’m stupid, it doesn’t help. Because it’s obvious to me that some people see me that way. That’s part of life; it’s something I have to deal with; pretending it isn’t so won’t make it go away.

People who are willing to acknowledge that people do in fact see me that way can join me in objecting. They can join me and say in solidarity “you’re ok; they’re mean.”

But in order to do that, they have to be willing to acknowledge the reality of what I’m facing. I wanted to do the same for others who are facing this reality.

Learning self respect

I’m twenty years old and I can’t help but think that everyone thinks I’m stupid. I stutter, I feel slow, I say dumb things, and I sometimes catch people giving me judging looks. No one’s ever said that to me except maybe once or twice when I was much younger, but I can’t help be bothered by it. I feel like there’s something wrong with me mentally, but people don’t want to address it. I hate it. I’d rather be messed up and not aware of it than this. How do I learn to love and be okay with myself?

realsocialskills said:

The most helpful thing I know about this, I learned from Dave Hingsburger’s book _The Are Word_. And, in the simplest form, it’s this:

You’re ok. They’re mean.

If you stutter and think slowly and have cognitive problems and have trouble communicating, there probably are a lot of people in your life who think you are stupid.

They may think that, but it isn’t true.

You’re ok. They’re mean.

People who think that you are stupid are being mean. People who give you judging looks are being really mean.

You’re ok. They’re mean. 

The way you talk doesn’t make them look down on you. The way you think doesn’t make them look down on you. Your voice is not the problem. Your brain is not the problem. They’re mean because they’re bigoted and mean.

You’re ok. They’re mean.

And, in the words of Laura Hershey: you get proud by practicing

I know it hurts. It hurts terribly. It’s not your fault, and you won’t always feel this awful. It takes time. It takes practice. It’s slow, and incremental. Try not to be hard on yourself for struggling with this. We all do. It’s hard. That’s not your fault, either.

You’re ok. They’re mean. And as you practice understanding this, and as you practice getting proud, it will be easier to feel ok and harder for them to hurt you.