By Wendy Lu: For More Info, Go Here…
I was 10 or 11 years old. My family had just wrapped up a group photo shoot, and a photography editor suggested blurring out my tracheostomy tube — a small, white device around my neck that helps me breathe.
“No way,” I nearly shouted at him.
I was only a child at the time, but I remember feeling a mix of anger, embarrassment and defiance. I hadn’t felt the need to hide my trach, but the photo editor’s request made me pause: Was I supposed to feel self-conscious about my disability? Should I blur it out after all?
Since birth, I have worn a tracheostomy tube (trach tube for short) around my neck to help me breathe due to vocal cord paralysis. When I was growing up, it was not uncommon for abled adults to tell me that I should wear colorful scarves so that other people wouldn’t see it. They would say, “You can’t even tell it’s there,” as if that’s a good thing. As if my disability is something to be ashamed of. As a kid, I never really thought about the politics of my disability the way I do now. It was just how I lived my life. It took me years before I stopped apologizing for breathing too loudly in a room and started reminding myself that I, too, deserve to take up space.
Now, I’m 26 years old, and I’m proud to call myself a disabled woman because I consider my disability to be a core part of who I am. I travel around the world to share my story as a disabled journalist and train other reporters on how to cover disability issues. I still recall the first time I gave a university lecture to a group of journalism students. I realized that I could use my platform to lift up my community and help create safe, accessible spaces where disabled people can be themselves and feel empowered to tell their own stories.