Event organiser and DEASP Community Employment Supervisor Nicola Meacle was MC for the evening. She screened four short films on the theme of “A Visual Exploration of Disability and Independent Living” and gave a brief introduction to each one. Nicola prefaced I’m Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much (a talk given by Stella Young at TEDxSydney in April, 2014) by breaking the sad news that Stella had recently passed away.
I must confess that I’d never heard of Stella before, something I regretted after watching the film. In nine minutes, Stella eloquently and wittily articulated something I’d often felt, but could never quite put my finger on.
She said that just because someone has a disability, it doesn’t make him or her exceptional. And that it’s wrong to use a disabled person’s struggle to do things most people take for granted as a source of inspiration because it leads to objectification, or “inspiration porn” as Stella memorably put it.
What disabled people want, she summed up, was to be treated just like everyone else. She hoped to live in a world where disability was not the exception, but the norm.
Stella Young was born in Australia in 1982. She was born with osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) and used a wheelchair for most of her life. She enjoyed a successful career as a comedian, journalist, and disability rights activist. She died unexpectedly on December 6th, 2014, at the age of 32. RIP.
Stairway to Heaven: Video of Stella addressing the 2012 Global Atheist Convention. She became an atheist when she heard there was “only a stairway to Heaven.” Contains offensive language.
Dear Stella: A Letter to My 80-Year-Old Self: A letter Stella wrote in 2012 to her 80-year-old self as part of the Women of Letters project. Stella doesn’t go easy on her future self… or mince her words!
17 Things Stella Young Wanted You to Know: A collection of Stella’s most thought-provoking and hard-hitting quotes.