I was. But I'm learning to think differently.

I love to follow the content put out by Fearless Futures, which is a social justice training organisation. Yes, this exists -- and as I experienced for myself on a recent inclusion training session, their work is deep, personal and confronting.  

On their Twitter feed (worth a follow) they recently shared a Black Disabled Woman's Syllabus, a range of reading material collected by an activist who is very rightly keen for 'the rest of us' to self educate.

Yes please. 

So I went down the rabbit hole of a very long reading list, clicking on the things I thought I'd be least educated about: '5 Things I Learned as a Black Woman with Depression'... 'Blacks and the Assisted Suicide Movement'... and the one that made me most thoughtful for the part I might play: 'Disability Representation and the Problem With Inspiration Porn'.

I'd never heard the term 'inspiration porn' before, so I looked up a few different articles about it. What I found really drove home the role we may all be playing as we consume, share and comment on stories that push to the forefront the groups that have been 'othered' by society.

On the one hand, as a member of a dominant group, you should be using your platform, your voice and your privilege to share the stories that don't get told so widely otherwise.

But at the core of all of this is the question: in whose voice is the story told? Who was asked to participate? Where did the inspiration to share come from? Who is this really for? Who is this benefiting? Importantly, scarily, we have to ask ourselves honestly whether we are telling the stories to feed the dominant groups with inspiration and warm fuzzy feelings, or whether we are looking for non-dominant groups to be genuinely empowered.

And – genuine empowerment can give everyone warm and fuzzies too. So it's not mutually exclusive, but this article by Rose Eveleth very eloquently examines the origin of the disabled person's narrative -- and boldly asks who the main beneficiaries are when these stories are told publicly by fashion brands.

The real question: are they using disabled models for the genuine benefit of disabled people, or are they doing it to inspire their non-disabled consumers and get them to spend cash?

The answer lies in discovering who was involved in the creative process.

The article below is essential reading.