What It's Like For Me To see Myself & My Experiences Represented in Movies

March 26th, 2016, 1am

My experiences aren’t shown in movies. People with disabilities aren’t seen as profitable. They are seen as someone to be pitied, therefore avoided. Because of this, I rarely saw anything remotely similar to my life in movies. This is why I hold the movies that represent me as best they can close to my heart.

Yesterday my mother asked me what my favourite scene was from the movie Forrest Gump. My answer was simple yet it shocked her. My favourite scene was the moment when Forrest is a child and trying to run away from the bullies chasing him down a road. The metal braces on his legs are making it difficult for him to run and he pushes them too far and they snap off his legs. Once they come off Forrest can run, he suddenly has a freedom to move like he hadn’t before. When I told her this she looked sad but tried to maintain her composer. So she said: “I guess you can relate to it.” I looked up, smiled and said “You have no idea. Have you ever tried running in leg braces? It’s really difficult. Your foot doesn’t bend so you have to move more awkwardly to compensate, you get stuck on twigs and branches since you can’t bend your foot, and you can’t feel the ground.” The first time I saw Forrest Gump was the first time I saw anything similar to what I went through in a movie, a respected, loved, and funny movie. That was in my senior year of high school.

I was watching an episode of Call the Midwife today and there was a moment that made me say “That’s me.” The nurse took the parents of a baby born with Spina Bifida to a home for those with disabilities. The father asked a patient, a man with cerebral palsy named Jacob what it was like to live there. Jacob’s response was clear, “It’s nice, there’s a biscuit factory next door… we get the broken ones.” We aren’t good enough to be offered what everyone else is offered. We just get whatever is left. We get the trash. My wheelchair bound friends and I, if my legs or lungs have decided to not cooperate that day, can’t go in the historic front entrances of buildings on my university campus. We have to go in back or side doors because we were forgotten about.

To see my life represented in movies is rare. So I love it when I do. Forrest Gump will always be my favourite movie and anytime Jacob is in an episode of Call the Midwife, you can bet that I will watch it more than 10 times and will adore it. For one reason only, because they didn’t count us out. Our stories matter and no one sees that, yet these people do.

Victoria and David Wade said thanks.

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Mariah Hillis

History buff living with chronic health problems. Lives life to the fullest, and dreams the biggest dreams, despite not being able to breathe in her sleep.

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