Before I retired, I was employed by an agency who supported people with developmental disabilities for almost 25 years. The agency’s corporate culture was one of Positive Approaches and one important aspect of Positive Approaches is something called People-First Language.
The purpose of using People-First Language is to avoid dehumanizing and perpetuating the perception of people with disabilities as being “less than” or subhuman. For example: “my Autistic son” becomes “my son, who has Autism”.
What difference does this make?
Having Autism is a secondary attribute (just like brown hair or blue eye) as opposed to a person’s total identity. You wouldn’t say, “I’m brown eyes”; you would say, “I have brown eyes.”
When you use People-First Language, you are treating a person with a disability as a “whole” person, who, like everyone else, is made up of many positive skills, talents, and traits. You are treating them with dignity and respect.
I’m very proud that the corporate culture where I was employed for so long, had those values.
I also think those values should extend to everyone, not just to people who have disabilities.
My family, friends, and loved ones all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
The people who work at McDonald’s deserve to be treated that way, too.
So do the men who pick up my trash twice a week, the President of the U.S., and the people who work in my local grocery store.
And so do I.
The means I have to stop saying, “I’m fat!”
Because I’m not.
This is fat:
I AM a PERSON who happens to carry some extra weight.
I am also much more.
A daughter, mother, wife, niece, and aunt;
An animal lover;
A good friend;
A musician and singer.
I’m ALL these things AND MORE, but . . .
I’M NOT FAT!