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How 'Finding Dory' Teaches Us to Stop Apologizing for Our Disabilities

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Being a child in the late seventies and early eighties, movies about people with disabilities were scarce.  I remember seeing one on television that showed a man falling for a woman in a wheelchair, but she ended up dying in the end. Not very positive. As of lately, there is a movie about a man who commits suicide because he’s in a wheelchair — despite being well loved, educated, and having a great life. Again, a terrible representation of people with disabilities.


In “Finding Dory,” I was pleasantly surprised to find a positive representation of disability. The subtle messages  throughout the movie hit home to me even as an adult. Dory, the main character, has a short term memory loss disability.  She is constantly apologizing and feeling bad for others having to deal with her condition. I can relate. My memory is just fine, but I need help several times a day and often apologize. I apologize for things I can’t even control. I tend to feel so bad when I ask for help that I might not even ask.

When we have any disability, we want to be accepted by others for who we are. But often, we forget to accept ourselves. We don’t need to apologize for having needs, because that is all part of being a person. Everyone has limitations, even though some choose to act like they don’t. We need to accept our limitations and stop apologizing.

Finding Dory shows that even if you need help, you’re not helpless. I could relate when Dory succeeded at things she didn’t even imagine were possible. I feel this way about small accomplishments as well as when my big dreams come true. So many tried to make me believe that I couldn’t be a teacher, public speaker, writer, wife and mother. All of these were my goals, and when I did accomplish them, I felt a great sense of success.

Dory’s friends and family didn’t always believe in her. I loved seeing them transition from not believing in her to realizing she is much more capable than they thought. I know that feeling, and it’s great to show your loved ones how much you can accomplish.

I highly recommend “Finding Dory” to anyone, but especially people with disabilities or who care about those who have disabilities.

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a scene or line from a movie, show, or song that’s stuck with you through your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.
Originally published: June 29, 2016
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