I don’t really watch television, buy tabloids or regularly keep up with showbiz news but even I heard about Katie Price jumping off a wall and shattering both her feet.
A few weeks ago, an interview was published in The Sun newspaper with Katie. She talked openly about her feelings regarding becoming unexpectedly disabled and a wheelchair user. Unfortunately, the interview wasn’t taken too well amongst the disabled community and rightly so. A few quotes from the interview:
“Not only am I in a wheelchair but I have to learn to walk again and I’m disabled. It’s humiliating.
“I feel so embarrassed being pushed around. People treat me differently and I don’t know why my boyfriend stays with me.”
“I look at the reflection in the shop windows, it’s demoralising, the heartbreak.”
Katie, who says she hates feeling “helpless”, went on to say the image of Carl pushing her round in a wheelchair is “demoralising”. She added: “And I feel sorry for Carl because he’s such a 6ft 2in, handsome, gorgeous man, and I bet people look at him and think, ‘Look at you having to push her around in a wheelchair’.
My initial reaction to this was anger. I was furious in fact. How dare someone with such a high profile as Katie Price go all out in the national media about how dreadful it is to be a disabled person in so many ways. She has a disabled son who has received countless cruel encounters and negativity towards him purely because of his disabilities, so surely she should be championing for disabled rights, positivity and equality? She has a platform and she should have used it for good in this situation, instead of adding to the stigma and poisoned opinions of people living with disabilities every day.
Of course she could.
But then I stopped and had a think.
Katie was thrown (technically jumped) into disability, completely unexpectedly. She is used to attention and people staring at her but for very different reasons. Her life has been moulded around trying to be highly desirable in very traditional ways. Yes, she has experienced ableism as the parent of a disabled child but going through it yourself is a completely different experience.
When I became a wheelchair user, I mourned my old life. I don’t like to admit it but I did. I had many days and nights full of tears and anger. I did have times where I felt like a burden and couldn’t understand why my husband would want to be with me. I felt like I’d let my children down. I did notice people staring at me and treating me differently. Just because Katie Price is a celebrity and is expected to recover in the future does not mean that she wouldn’t have felt these feelings too.
It can be just as destructive to the disabled community as ableism can be.
Just like anything done in excess, when positivity is used to cover up or silence the human experience, it becomes toxic. By disallowing the existence of certain feelings, we fall into a state of denial and repressed emotions. The truth is, humans are flawed. We get jealous, angry, resentful, and greedy. Sometimes life can just flat out suck. By pretending that we are “positive vibes all day,” we deny the validity of a genuine human experience.https://thepsychologygroup.com/toxic-positivity/
Katie has since apologised for her comments, a little too late for some but I’d like to hope it was a genuine apology. She shouldn’t have said what she did in the way she did because of the following and influence she has. That is tabloid reporting for you though, damaging and often cruel to minority groups. I believe she could have talked about those horrible feelings she had in a much more sensitive way. Many disabled people have felt them (myself included) and wouldn’t have reacted with the initial anger and hurt that her original comments brought on.
She now has a £10,000 bright pink Swarovski Crystal studded wheelchair and is looking much happier with her situation. If you’re looking for a really classy and advanced alternative to something like that, I’d highly recommend you check out Lith-Tech, who have just announced the exciting news of their new mobility aid: the world’s first carbon fibre, lightest folding electric wheelchair! You can even add your own bling at home if you so wish.
What do you feel about Katie’s comments? Let me know below!