WHY YOU WON’T CATCH ME READING ABOUT MY DISABILITY

Hey guys, so today I am coming to you with a short discussion talking about why I generally don’t like to read about characters who share my disability (I am deaf). I think it really depends on who you are as a person and what defines/makes you up as a person as to whether or not we like to read about characters similar to us – whether that be a disability, gender, sexuality or any other trait. But, I at least at this point in my life, don’t like to read about deaf characters.

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BOOKS WITH DEAF CHARACTERS I WON’T READ

books books books books a27 Hours (The Nightside Saga, #1)   You're Welcome, Universe   Whisper

^The number of books with deaf characters in YA is laughable^

I rarely read books with deaf characters, part of this is down to the fact that books rarely have characters with physical disabilities (aka. not mental health issues) but mainly it’s because I purposely avoid them. However, I have read two notable books with deaf characters that I would recommend. Aka. the Magnus Chase trilogy by Rick Riordan and Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. You can read my gush reviews here & here. I will say though, and this will definitely contradict this whole discussion and probably come back to bite me on the *ss later. But, there is a character in The Raven Cycle with the same disability as me and he is pretty much the main reason I love that series purely because I relate to that character so deeply.

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So, now that I have talked about the books with deaf characters that I do enjoy, let’s discuss why I generally steer clear from deaf characters in books! 

So, I am an 18 year old deaf female. I have been deaf my whole life and I pretty much never experience representation when it comes to my disability. Don’t get me wrong rep means the world to me, because not only does it makes me feel validated and like deaf people matter, but it gives others an insight into the struggles we face just in the day to day. So… why don’t I want to read about deaf characters? Well, I showed some books above and excluding 27 Hours (hella problematic author) I have made a conscious decision over the years to not pick up books about me. I don’t want to read about a teenage deaf girl in high school because up until this year, that was me. I lived that for 5 years and I’m done – I don’t need to go through that again.

I don’t need to read about deaf people going through a hard time in public school because that was me. I have lived that life and I don’t need to go through that special brand of hell again. I think that rep is amazing and such a great thing for other deaf people, and can be educational for fully hearing readers who quite frankly don’t have a clue (no offence, sorry) but, I am the character. I don’t need to read about people not understanding my disability because, been there done that.

So, do you guys like to read characters similar/the same to you or are you salty like me and is it just too close to home?

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DO YOU READ ABOUT CHARACTERS SIMILAR TO YOU?
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GETTING REP IN BOOKS? DOES IT MAKE YOU WANT TO READ THE BOOK?

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19 thoughts on “WHY YOU WON’T CATCH ME READING ABOUT MY DISABILITY

  1. This is a great post, Ellyn! ❤

    I love getting rep in books, but I can also totally understand where you're coming from. Personally, it's really important for me to connect and relate to a character, because then I'll be much more invested in a book, and being similar just makes that easier.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much!

      I totally see where you’re coming from. I just think that it depends on what the rep is, for me. I think if I saw my sexuality in a book it would be different to seeing my disability or anxiety represented in a story.

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      1. Ahh I see, I’m a little bit different.

        I love seeing my ethnicity represented in books, but I also “like” reading about characters with anxiety i.e. (though I have to be in the right mindset for it), because it can bring me comfort to know I’m not alone in this, and that others (especially if it’s an ownvoices book) are going through the same thing, and it makes me … hopeful? Of course, depending on the book, but it makes me believe we can all master life, despite our struggles.

        That being said, I don’t particularly gravitate towards mental health rep books, if they’re not written by ownvoices authors, because the rep may not be accurate, and maybe even hurtful, or used as a plot device.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a really interesting post! I actually do like to read about characters that are similar to me, especially when it comes to latinx or bisexual rep. Nonetheless, when it comes to characters that have severe anxiety, sometimes I won’t be able to read a book or I’ll have to stop reading because it triggers my own anxiety.

    So, I guess it depends on what part of me is represented. I always find representation valuble, but sometimes I won’t be inclined to read certain books because I know they may affect me.

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    1. Thank you! I can totally relate to that. I enjoy reading about characters with the same sexuality as me, but I don’t like to read about characters with the same disability or mental health problems as me. I often cannot handle anxiety in books well, especially if not written by an Ownvoices author. So, I definitely understand that perspective.

      I definitely agree that rep is important and valuable, I just don’t always feel the need to read it.

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  3. Hugely appreciate this post and your perspective! Working in a middle school library, I actively search for books with diverse characters, settings, representation, etc. That said, when I reflected after reading your post, I don’t read all books that represent my life experiences. I believe students need to read about depression and suicide. Having lived through that experience with my daughter, I can’t force myself to read on this topic. Fortunately, a co-worker will tackle this subject for me. I will still strive to find and provide a diverse array of books while also honoring each students choice of books. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I really appreciate that, coming from someone who’s primary & high schoools never actively searched out diverse or helpful reads, that is really comforting! I think it’s grat for kids, particularly younger kids to read from a different perspective, whether that be race, gender,, mental illness sexuality or disability etc. – not only does it help them understand a different perspective, but it helps them to learn about other ways of life and opens up new pathways and discussions which I think is needed with young children. That was really longwinded, but I think it’s really cool what you’re doing!

      Thank you for being so honest!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! I never really thought about rep in this way. I love reading books with all sorts of representations, and when I find one that represents my own life in some sort of way I get really happy about it, (the only book that can represent the relationship I had with my adoptive mother growing up is Starfish) but I understand completely that depending on how your feeling you wouldn’t want to relive that struggle and that’s totally and completely valid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Yeh, I know it’s different for everyone. I personally, don’t like reading about my disability, but I also don’t like reading about anxiety, whereas I am fine with MC’s who share my sexuality.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I totally get what you’re saying! I am half-and-half when it comes to this…I have autism and I’ve read books with the most disgustingly inaccurate or hurtful rep ever and it turns me off. Like I don’t need to read a book and end up with a panic attack when they reduce a disability to the character being a burden or unintelligent or something?! But at the same time I long for the good rep (like you said: to feel seen and it can be empowering!) so I keep reading them. I get excited when I see autistic heroes in fantasy and such!! Like at this point I want to read disability + them having an adventure! So it’s not just a “here’s a 101 intro into [insert disability here] for non-disabled readers”….because yeah, that makes it feel like the book isn’t for us at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can totally understand that, I deal with that a lot with anxiety in books (and media in general). Exactly, it would be lovely to read a book where the MC just happened to have a disability, it wasn’t a 101 on the actual disability. I would love to say that I only read ownvoices books with my disability but unfortunately, because of the books I read (predominantly fantasy), it makes it almost impossible for me to feel confident enough to even pick up a book I know will have a deaf MC.

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  6. Ooooh I like this discussion A LOT. I am exactly the same when it comes to trans rep. I used to feel really guilty that I wasn’t stepping up and doing more #ownvoice reviews of trans books or books with trans characters but, exactly like you said, I have to live this life… I don’t really want to have to read about it as well. Rep can make me feel happy that is exists but that doesn’t mean I want to have to read about it.

    In the past, I’ve also had so many horrific experiences of trans rep in books. There are some books that I’ve read, mostly sci-fi, where trans characters are written seamlessly into the story and its just such a lovely way to do it. It’s not a big thing, it’s not about trans “issues”, it just has trans people EXISTING which is my fave kind of rep. Too often though I come across books, usually contemporary, which drop trans characters in to make a point or to further the narrative of the MC and it is always SO OFFENSIVE. These books always make me depressed AND ruin a book that I was otherwise enjoying so I don’t tend to pick up books like that anymore because I just don’t have the energy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m glad!
      So did I . On the occasional occurrence that I heard about a book with a deaf character, I would add the book to my tbr and then never pick it up and then feel really guilty about never actually going to read them. Exactly, I think Ownvoices reviews are more important than other reviews, but for this, I think there are other people (who live this life or otherwise) whose reviews will suffice. Exactly! rep is a wonderful thing but, I don’t always have to read it!

      That is also a big factor as to why I’m not rushing to pick up any books with deaf characters. I don’t want to have to deal with the bad rep, probably written from the perspective of someone who has no idea. It’s one thing to know someone who has that disability or that sexuality etc, it’s another thing to live that life.
      That’s my favourite kind of book! Rep is amazing, but for someone to be included, much like straight white people are, not as just a character and not the quirky loud friends or a plot point is really amazing! Exactly, bad rep can ruin a book completely and be completely exhausting to someone who actually knows how it feels to live that life!

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  7. I believe this is something so personal. I’m not deaf, but I love seeing any minority rep in books – deaf people being one of them. I honestly love any minority rep if it’s done right – although it’s hard for me to judge that if it’s not “my” rep.
    Plus-sized characters though: yes please. Totally my rep and I love seeing it in books if it isn’t in the fat-shaming way.

    I understand why you’d stay clear of books with deaf characters though. It can be hard. Hell, sometimes reading certain things about overweight characters makes me want to slam my head against the wall for all the familiar things being said and done. :’)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I know how you feel, we rarely see plus-size rep now, but I think we’re starting to see it more in books now. With books like Leah on The Offbeat & Dumplin. I recommend Beneath The Sugar Sky if you haven’t already read it. I thought it was amazing (I’m plus-size too btw).

      Liked by 1 person

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