As people emerge from the cripple punk culture we’ve found many of us like the same things and dress in similar ways but we aren’t going down the rabbit hole today of Jungian theories.
Meeting disabled people just like me made me realize how complicated cultural appropriation actually is. I understand why it would be annoying that someone would start dressing like you despite having made fun of you for dressing that way just so they can look edgy but it’s not like I really felt the repercussions of that. As a white American something like cultural appropriation isn’t something I realized I had experience of.
When you are from a minority that never gets representation you don’t know what you’re supposed to like. I expected for us to have similarities but I never thought it would lead to the stock prices of vibrantly colored hair dye to rocket.
What really made me realize how ignorant I’ve been was when none of the cripple punks asked me why I look like I do; they already knew. Just like traditional outfits for different cultural events we have our own traditional garb. You can tell if I was going to the hospital just because of what textiles I chose for my outfit that day.
Try to picture the person who says this: “I don’t feel good, I really should go to the hospital but I need to finish painting my nails.”
They seem pretty irresponsible, narcissistic, lazy.
The phrase can be said by either NTABs or ourselves but what we say mean are very different things.
If an AB had said the sentence above it can easily be translated into “I would rather sacrifice my health than have anyone see me looking sloppy” but if someone like me was saying it the translation should be “this kind of got out of hand and it’s probably going to be serious so I need finish my nails before I go to the hospital so I’ll have something to stare at that didn’t give me snow blindness.”
That’s what the translation should but ABs assume our words are the same as theirs
I was once talking to another cpunk about how we both wanted to get our hair done before we went to the ER because our hair had grown out. I keep my hair blue and she had a much more intricate style which not only involve dye but also shaved patterns. As we were comparing notes we found that we wanted to get our hair done for the exact same reason.
When I go to a medical appointment or emergency room as my natural cripple self with nondescript clothing, no makeup or accessories, hair a drab brown, I get ignored. It means worse healthcare but it also means less physical and sexual assaults. When I go as natural me, still no makeup but bright blue hair, band T-shirts, and at least 50% covered in flannel the medical staff seems relieved. At first sight its obvious that I’m not one of “those” disabled people that our almost humanlike. I picked out my own outfit so I must at least be able to correctly tell them my birthday.
Not only do doctors and nurses were impressed with our hair.
If I act like an actual human being people suddenly see me if they are always the ones to congratulate me on not being one of “those” cripples. They say I’m showing people that I’m trying, that I haven’t given in. I’m not going to let disability to define me. I was a nuanced human being with a personality and interests.
That’s all great, I’d gladly take those compliments if it wasn’t in comparison to this metaphorical cripple trope that doesn’t exist.
When I dye my hair blue ABs assume it’s an effort to pass as AB and I’m sure it’s been sounding that way but I’ve consistently kept my hair like this nearly my entire life to specifically to distance myself from ABs.
When you’re disabled, especially when you’re born disabled like myself, you don’t own your own body. There is never an adulthood to reach in which you can consent to anything. We see it too often in the legal system where rapists are let off with lenient sentences or fines because having sex with a disabled person has been the legal equivalent to bestiality.
Being able to dye my hair blue was mine. I’ve had to shave parts of my head for different surgeries/procedures but the hair itself is insignificant, it’ll grow back. If I want to dye it blue I can because the color of my hair has no medical significance.
People treat me better because because of my hair color. They hate my wheelchair so much that a simple change to my hue can have a major impact on them. I must be captivating considering how often people stare at me.
This is the first time in history that disabled people have ever actually been visible. We control the media we make, we put ourselves in it, and more often we aren’t translating it for NTABs. The Internet has given disabled people of great bit of autonomy and most normal people don’t understand that yet, and they aren’t bothering to translate.
So now we have all this visibility if we are willing to face the repercussions. It would be nice to talk about things of significance but ABs can’t manage it.
They can’t get past how they don’t understand that there is, and always has been, a large population that never gets heard or spoken about.
When ABs think it’s cute that I dye my hair it doesn’t annoy me, it makes me smile because as they point out that my presence was unacceptable and I the audacity to draw attention to myself. But it’s such an anomaly to people that it’s something that they, and that’s the important part. It makes me remember that I’m not alone. I’m a part of a community of people who get, I don’t have to explain fundamental things to.
There has always has been mainstream problems with disabled appropriation.
Medical aesthetic has a lot of sub genres and you will be hard-pressed to find one in which the aesthetic is not taken from the victims. People don’t think it’s fashionable to carry around a stethoscope, but crutches a really popular.
You can really easily Google examples from lots of different runways and photo shoots like with Kylie Jenner.
But let’s take a look at one of my “favorites” which is of Max on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Her aesthetic is a sort of whimsically traditional so she went for polio.
It seems silly but our assistive equipment is sacred. I consider my wheelchair part of my body when I’m in it and some people grabbing it or pushing it offends me as much when they do it to my actual body. Things like crutches and walkers, they aren’t disabling. They are the things that are giving us ability in your world. Our lives depend on them, they are always with us, and we become attached to them.
Imagine someone taking away your favorite Barbie doll.
Now imagine that now that it’s gone you can’t walk anymore.
The whole thing is a petty but at the end of the day you are still laying on the pavement with a broken nose and some bitch has your Barbie.
Cripple punk is a reappropriation of the remnants of our past, most of which is made into nothing more than a commodity. I’m going to show you some of the most common things we’ve taken back and remember, not everyone has the same aesthetic. You have your mermaid cripples, you have your asylum cripples, and the rest of us like to put them together.
There are three specific styles that cpunks that weren’t supermodels gravitated toward.
“Gross cute” which is adorable horror
“creepy cute” tends to be whimsical but unnerving.
“painfully cute” has a lot of gore but this style concentrates on romanticizing medical tools and medication
Cpunks post selfies that make their disability explicitly visible.when doing something big like using your wheelchair in public for the first time and everyone has at least one hospital bed photo. Even punk has rules, though, no one should ever use the image of a disabled person without their knowledge and consent so you guys are getting stuck with min
Remember, not everyone is into the gross art. There’s also a huge trend of beautiful pills and mermaids.
The first time the cripple punk community got noticed is when they fought back against SJWs condemning posts and art that romanticize drug use.
Obviously our drugs are important to us. You need food and water to live, we need food and water and drugs. Everyone loves those food blogs, so I didn’t really see the problem with this.
Mermaids have had a longer history as being a part of disabled culture, not just cripple punk. The appeal of mermaids, especially to children, is that they were one of the really cool characters but the only problem was they couldn’t walk on land. Back in their own home they were seen as normal and everything was built to accommodate them which is inaccessible to the people that live on land.
Pretty straightforward metaphor.
Corporations have also noticed that we are mermaids and now we have some pretty cool toys that I would’ve killed for when I was a child but shamelessly play with as an adult anyway
This is a pretty good example of how standard it is. This is a blanket that more or less works like a sack. You put your legs in and pull it up on you. People that aren’t very ambulatory have extremely bad circulation which is why you always see disabled characters with little folded blankets on their lap. This is a blanket specifically made for people like us.