Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig
Summary: Growing up as a paralyzed girl during the 90s and early 2000s, Rebekah Taussig only saw disability depicted as something monstrous (The Hunchback of Notre Dame), inspirational (Helen Keller), or angelic (Forrest Gump). None of this felt right; and as she got older, she longed for more stories that allowed disability to be complex and ordinary, uncomfortable and fine, painful and fulfilling. Writing about the rhythms and textures of what it means to live in a body that doesn’t fit, Rebekah reflects on everything from the complications of kindness and charity, living both independently and dependently, experiencing intimacy, and how the pervasiveness of ableism in our everyday media directly translates to everyday life. Disability affects all of us, directly or indirectly, at one point or another. By exploring this truth in poignant and lyrical essays, Taussig illustrates the need for more stories and more voices to understand the diversity of humanity. Sitting Pretty challenges us as a society to be patient and vigilant, practical and imaginative, kind and relentless, as we set to work to write an entirely different story.
In this combination memoir, essay collection, and call to action, Rebekah Taussig invites the reader to consider disability from a different perspective. “Instead of disability as the limitation,” she asks, “what if a lack of imagination was the actual barrier?” She shares stories from her life, which are at turns wry, hilarious, and poignant, but always she ties her experiences to a larger message: What does it mean to be truly inclusive? She lays out how depictions of marginalized people in media affect our society at a granular level, and shows everyone is disadvantaged when some voices are silenced. Taussig’s writing is mesmerizing, and she articulates deep truths in straightforward prose. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Inclusion isn’t better just because it’s kinder. We should bring disabled perspectives to the center because these perspectives create a world that is more imaginative, more flexible, more sustainable, more dynamic and vibrant for everyone who lives in a body.”
Sitting Pretty is out now.