To the People Staring and Laughing at the Way I Walk


To the people who stare at me while I’m walking down the street, the people who stare at me while shopping and to the people whispering among themselves while I walk past you: I see and hear you. I can see your lips moving and hear giggles coming out of your mouth. I can feel your eyes watching aimlessly at me while I walk by you with a limp or a strange gait. I get that you’re not used to it — that a person who is so young is walking like this. Yes, I know I stand out amidst the crowds you’re used to seeing. I know I walk with a limp at times. I know I walk really slow and I’ll stop walking to catch my breath. I know you don’t understand.

To the people who laughed at me when I fell because my leg gave out when I was walking, I know you don’t understand what it’s like to have a leg stop working when you’re trying to get errands done. I know it’s hard to realize it happens. But it’s not OK to continue pointing and laughing. It’s not OK to not show respect to another human. Instead of laughing, ask if I’m OK or need some help.

There’s a lot you do not know. You do not know what the real cause for it is. You do not understand that I hate having to take resting breaks while shopping with my friends because I get tired more easily than they do. That I physically cannot help it. It’s not your fault you don’t understand. People with illnesses don’t expect you to understand. It would be shocking if you did.

Something I want you to understand is we want to be treated like everyone else. We’re people just like you. Yes, we may “stand out” to you, but since when is standing out a bad thing? It’s not a bad thing to not blend in with the crowd. Everyone has something different about them than someone else and everyone has a story. Whether it’s visible or not, it’s there. We didn’t ask to have the health issues we have. We didn’t want them.

Having the health issues we have, and knowing/meeting others with health conditions, has taught us a lot. It’s taught us to be more accepting of others because we know what it’s like to not be accepted by people. It’s also taught us not to judge someone based off of how they appear to the general eye. That there’s more to a person than what is visible. It’s the inside of the person that truly matters. So while you’re busy judging me by how I appear, I’m out living my life and having fun.

To the people judging, staring and laughing at me, I won’t hold it against you because I know you don’t understand what it’s like to go through some of this stuff. But I challenge you to put your ego behind you. Help someone if you see them struggling. If someone near you falls, ask if they’re OK or need assistance. Don’t be afraid to talk to us. Say hello as we walk by and most importantly, be kind to us. We don’t judge, stare or laugh at you, so please show us the same respect.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Illness

3 Ways to Make Your Marriage Work When 'in Sickness and in Health' Is Tested

On a balmy June evening, with the sand beneath us, the waves behind us and the sun bathing us in its golden light, my husband and I committed our lives to one another. “For richer or for poorer, in sickness or in health, as long as we both shall live,” we giddily declared our love [...]
Rear view of two female friends resting in park

Why I Want My Friends to Remind Me That I'm Sick

There are two sides to this story. Originally, I was going to write an article titled “Sometimes I forget I’m sick — and I wish I didn’t.” I was driving home in the midst of possibly the worst backfire of this “forgetting.” I knew I could do so safely, but I also knew the prospect [...]
young woman in eyeglasses using a laptop while sitting on the window sill

If You Feel Pressured to Be as 'Productive' as the Healthy People Around You

Between #GirlBosses and side hustles and everything else Instagram and Khloe Kardashian are always telling us, it’s pretty clear that productivity is important nowadays. And generally I think that is great! Encouraging people to do more and be more sounds like nothing but a good thing, right? Except it’s possible that it’s trapping us. Because [...]
People walking down the street in the evening, beautiful light at sunset. The photo is purposely made out of focus, no faces are recognisible

The Conversation I Need to Have With the People Who Judge My Illness

To the woman who pushed me out of my seat, to the man who ridiculed me for parking in a handicap space, to the anonymous person who left a note on my windshield, and to all the people that judge me and others based on appearance: Did anyone ever teach you the saying “Don’t judge [...]