Can We Talk? Portraying Disabilities in Fiction


The scene is set!
All the hero has to do is break the glass case, grab the missing necklace, and hightail it out of there with his heroine in tow!
The glass case is shattered with the hero’s $90,000 arm prosthesis.
Did that actually happen? I resume reading to find the hero continuing to use his prosthesis to smash doors and windows to save the heroine!
Can we talk for a minute?

Dear authors, you can’t smash a glass case with a microprocessor hand prosthesis without doing serious damage. Not only did his hand stop working immediately, but he probably broke his socket and residual limb. I know this because I am an amputee.
I would like to say that example was the only inaccurate one of people with disabilities in mainstream romance, but I can’t. There are numerous examples where characters are written in a way it is obvious the writer knows nothing about the disability.
While amputees are the current ‘hot button’ choice for characters with disabilities, this same misrepresentation happens across all sub-communities, from characters with chronic illnesses to disabilities that are invisible. All we have to do is refer to the big Hollywood blockbusters where people with disabilities are represented as depressed, hopeless, and suicidal.
Most of us aren’t. Sure, we have those emotions sometimes, just like able-bodied people do, and there are *those* kinds of amputees, just like there are *those* kind of able-bodied. The one thing most of us don’t do is sit around bemoaning our fate. Most of us are too busy living our lives, spending time with our families, working jobs in all industries, and yes, looking for love.

Read the entire article in the February 2021 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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