IT HAPPENED TO ME: People Thought My Wheelchair Was a Halloween Costume

I’m used to getting attention for my healthy-looking legs while I sit in my motorized wheelchair, but my brief time at a Halloween house party this past weekend was a straight-up nightmare.
Publish date:
November 1, 2013
issues, halloween, costumes

I’m used to getting attention for my healthy-looking legs while I sit in my motorized wheelchair, but my brief time at a Halloween house party this past weekend was a straight up nightmare.

“Who are you supposed to be?”

“I’m the DD for my friends. I'm just picking them up.”

“Oooh! I get it, because of your wheels, right?”

People actually thought it was my costume. They laughed at the irony of my normalcy while using a wheelchair. Comments were made about my “normal clothes” and how expensive my wheelchair looked. Some drunken men even tried using some sort of masochist pick up line relating to my situation. Drunken girls fell over me without one word as they knocked into my already painful legs.

Even though I was only in the corner of the room for a short while, the negative attention I received was absurd. My anger and frustration only made them laugh harder, and take me even less seriously.

This is why I don’t usually go to parties. Not only are most houses not accessible, I would never feel safe letting my sober guard down. Not to mention, women are typically a target at college house parties, and apparently my light-up tank of a wheelchair is a blinking sign that says, “Come harass me!”

I’ve experienced more than enough judgmental and degrading comments relating to being in a wheelchair from some more than nosey people. I’ve started writing them down this past week:

“I wanna make out with the wheelchair girl.”

“Can I sit on you?”

“You haven’t been in a wheelchair long, have you?”

“Are you sure you don’t need help? I can help you.”

“Can you have sex?”

“At least you still look normal.”

“Stand up, I want to see how tall you are.”

“Your legs aren’t skinny like you’re paralyzed.”

“Well that’s one fancy wheelchair there. What is even wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with you?”

What’s wrong with me!? What is wrong with you?! My abnormality seems to serve as an invite to play 20 questions. If I weren’t in a wheelchair, would they be asking the same questions?

If I choose to ignore a prying inquiry, I’m called a “crippled bitch” and I’m rude. If I choose to answer about my situation honestly, I’m told to smile or I’m then reminded that at least I still look normal. If I politely refuse help (which I’ve yet to need in public), then I’m scoffed at, or asked over and over again if I’m sure I don’t need their help.

Yes, I’m disabled, and that means I live a very differently abled life than most. It’s not my job to roll around and try to answer people’s ignorant questions about my private life or even to continually justify why I’m in a wheelchair. It is not my disability I have to overcome; I’m overcoming the stigma and resistance I face from society in very physical and emotional ways.

I wish people would stop marginalizing my body. This is not my fucking Halloween costume.

Halloween is not an excuse to mock or degrade people.

This year, I was completely appalled at some of the costume choices people at my college made, like “hobos” or homeless people.

I can understand the struggle for creative costumes on a college budget. A Homeless person would make sense and be easy, right? You know what’s not easy? Actually being homeless. While you complain about the cold and chug from your bottle of sunscreen flavored rum and call yourself a hobo, we’re actually surrounded by people who are stuck in the cold, without a home, without a job, and without food.

I’ve seen so many cases of people dressing up as Kanye or even Trayvon Martin complete with a bloody hoody. News flash: RACE IS NOT A FUCKING HALLOWEEN COSTUME. And neither am I.

Using someone’s situation, race or ability as a costume truly trivializes what it means to have that identity.

I can forgive candy-corn, wig hair, and even dentist’s hygienic gifts left in a trick-or-treat bag on Halloween, but I can’t forgive ignorance.