A Tribute to Disability Activist Stella Young

Stella Young

“I use the term porn deliberately because they objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group of people.” – Stella Young on “inspiration porn” images of people with disabilities.

The headlines are heavy today with the news that comedian and journalist Stella Young unexpectedly passed away over the weekend at the age of 32. Many of you may recognize Stella’s face if not her name from the video of her TED talk in April of 2014, which has been widely shared on You Tube and social media and racked up millions of views worldwide.

Stella was born with Osteogensis Imperfecta, a genetic disorder causing bones to break easily. She used a wheelchair, although she’d be quick to point out that this fact does not automatically turn her into a noble inspiration for the rest of humanity.

“Stella’s frank way of making her point, with her razor-sharp wit wrapped in a genuinely warm and inviting smile will be missed in the world of disability advocacy,” said Stephen Bennett, CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “We all talk about the same issues Stella talked about, but she really knew how to present things in a way in which people had to stop and take notice.”

“Just a few months ago, our national external affairs staff viewed Stella’s TED Talk in preparation for a deeper discussion of how nonprofit organizations portray people with disabilities in our communications, marketing and development materials,” said Ruben Gonzales, Chief Development Officer of UCP. “It was so valuable for our staff members without disabilities to get that perspective.”

In honor of Stella and her work, here’s a link to ABC’s website with a list of “17 Things Stella Wants You to Know as demonstrated in quotes from her work.