Prom Season is Upon Us Again (Cue Horror Music)

When I was at the prom for my high school in my sophomore year, I had a beautiful vintage 1960s strapless dress. It was mint green, and it had a purple velvet ribbon at the hem and little violets we put on the bodice. I felt so pretty, like a princess. My friend who asked me to the prom wasn’t a date, as such. But we had fun.

I don’t remember when it happened in the evening, but I had my white cane. It was the first year that I’d had one, and I took it to the prom since it was going to be dark there, and from previous experiences, school dances tended to be difficult to navigate for me.

One of the upperclassmen at the school (which was tiny, which is why a sophomore was at prom in the first place) spotted me wafting through the dance with my cane and came up to me, laughing, and said “Hey, if you let me see your stick I’ll let you see mine.”

He continued to harass me about it for the rest of the dance, and the laughter of him and his friends rang in my ears for a lot longer after that.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this so much is because of the annual slew of “Look at how nice it is that this able bodied person is taking a disabled person to prom” photos.

I will always be grateful that no one said it was “nice” that my friend took me to prom “because of {my} condition”

Stop making disabled teens objects, and stop making their teenage milestones something to make you feel better about the world. It’s bad enough that teenagers with disabilities are experiencing ableism, it’s bad enough that they have to survive high school in a world that treats disability as something to either be pitied or mocked.

The bullying I received as a teenager was awful, but frankly, I’m just glad no one got a picture of me with my date, white cane in hand, because then it would have been a narrative about how nice he was for humoring me with a dance.

Disabled teens deserve to have their prom pictures aww’d over because they’re being cute teenagers, not because of a presupposed notion of pity.

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One Response

  1. Danielle
    Danielle April 29, 2016 at 11:41 pm | | Reply

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve posted about this type of thing (homecoming/prom/parades) on my own social media. Sad to say that my own friends and family don’t get it. (But then they are the people who see the “adopted kid under the Christmas tree” surprise and think that’s okay too.) I was very luck, most of the kids I grew up with were great, and if people asked me to dances or to dance, it was or seemed to be genuine, not pity.

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