The Australian writer, speaker and disability activist is tiresome of non-disabled Australians praising disabled people for simply existing. Carly says, “I don’t want to be an inspiration just for existing, or to make non disabled people feel better about their own lives.”
This attitude is one of the reasons Carly wrote ‘Say Hello’ – an honestly refreshing and triumphant memoir on Carly’s experiences of living with a visibly different appearance.
Living with a rare skin condition called Ichythiosis, a disorder characterised by dry, scaling skin that is often red and prone to infections, Carly often sees people pointing, staring, avoiding eye contact or saying nasty things – a common experience endured by disabled Australians.
When writing Say Hello, she had two audiences in mind – one of those being non-disabled Australians, who may not be aware they partake in active ableism or ‘inspiration porn’ – the objectification of disabled people for the benefit of non-disabled people.
“I’ve had people without disabilities say they’ve really learned stuff from [Say Hello], that they’re now seeing ableism for the first time, that they didn’t know about it before I started writing.”
“Inspiration porn occurs a lot on social media where people’s hearts are warmed by a disabled person doing an ordinary thing, perhaps playing sport or using their prosthetic limb.. another thing that has come prevalent now is videos of non-disabled people doing really nice things for disabled people, making them look heroic,” she said.
“However, nobody has usually given consent for these photos or videos to be taken, especially the disabled person.. it’s often uploaded to social media, makes mainstream media and the disabled person has no say in it.”
The other audience Carly has written this novel for is for Australians with disabilities, facial differences or chronic illnesses.
“I hope that people who feel like they’re alone or that they haven’t had anyone like them growing up or as an adult even, can take some solace in it,” she said.
And whilst she doesn’t want to be pegged as an inspiration, she hopes that this book can encourage other Australians with skin conditions, facial differences or disabilities to feel confident about their appearance, tell their stories on their own terms and not feel the need to make others comfortable through apologising for their bodies.
She also wants to encourage all Australians to quash the notions of ableism and discrimination.
“It’s super important that disabled people have a seat at the table,” Carly said.
Ensuring that all disabled people have access to her book, Carly will be releasing an e-book (recorded by her) as well as making her book launches wheelchair accessible and interpreted by an Auslan Interpreter. They’re also recorded live and posted online for those that are house bound.
Whether you’re disabled, a parent of a disabled child or simply someone who wants to learn more about ableism and discrimination, Say Hello is a hearty read that will have you laughing and crying just pages apart.
Published by HarperCollins and is in-store on Booktopia, Apple Books and in all good bookstores. To attend her Brisbane Book Launch on March 21, held at the Avid Reader in West End, visit www.eventbrite.com.au and search for ‘Carly Findlay.’