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People Are Sharing the Worst 'Compliment' They've Gotten Because of Their Disability

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, some comments people received in the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

A new viral hashtag, #DisabledCompliments, is making the rounds on Twitter with another reminder that no, disabled people aren’t here to be an example of how “blessed” you are, and yes, your “compliment” is straight-up ableism — and offensive.

Writer and advocate Imani Barbarin, who has started many viral disability-related hashtags, set out to use the voices of disabled people to bring attention to one of the more innocuous ways people with disabilities are erased in everyday conversations — “compliments.”

“Conversations around #DisabledCompliments are first and foremost meant to build community with other disabled people who may not always have the opportunity to be heard or believed,” Barbarin told The Mighty in an email, continuing:

Secondly, I would hope that we as a society take a hard look at the way our ‘compliments’ speak to deeper biases and stereotypes around disabled people and bodies. Many posted fall within a theme of ‘you should not exist’ which then leads me to believe that when it comes to inclusion of disabled people, it is really just talk. Often, disabled people can tell a lot about their interaction with a non disabled person from the words they try to pass off as a compliment. It speaks greater about who they are then the disabled person they’re talking to.

On Saturday, Barbarin started the #DisabledCompliments hashtag with some real-talk about some of the most ableist comments disabled people get.

“Like, no, I don’t see you as disabled. You don’t have that disabled mindset, you know?!” Barbarin wrote.

The hashtag quickly picked up steam before going viral and reaching trending status. Many used the hashtag to share some of the “compliments” they received from others, which range from clueless to outright cruel and hurtful.

Barbarin’s #DisabledCompliments hashtag created a space that centers and empowers the voices of people with disabilities. As Amy (Twitter user @GaetaAmy) told The Mighty via email:

This hashtag is important on multiple levels because it disproves many dominant stereotypes about disabled people including that we need validation from strangers, we’re inherently unhappy, and we don’t know our own worth. The hashtag brings the disabled community together through humor and relatability. It also brings to light how good intentions can be undercut with unintended unintended hurtful ableism.

Join the conversation by posting the #DisabledCompliments you’ve received on Twitter or here on The Mighty’s platform. You can also share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Originally published: July 2, 2019
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