“So inspirational. It’s so incredible watching you not let anything get in your way,” reads a comment in a group chat on Messenger. I know it’s meant as a compliment, but I can’t help feeling a little uneasy.
I have myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) — a chronic, multi-system condition that causes a range of symptoms including debilitating tiredness, muscle and joint pain, and problems with thinking, memory and concentration. And for the past three years, I’ve been a part of Team England Adaptive Abilities Pom, a unified team of disabled and able-bodied athletes representing our country in the sport.
Pom is relentless. A form of cheerleading, it’s two minutes and 15 seconds of high-power, endless movement. It requires a high level of stamina from athletes as we move through each synchronised skill and, without trying to sound big-headed, I know I’m talented. I wouldn’t be representing my country with this team if I wasn’t. I am strong and flexible and revel in pushing my body to its limits. But inspirational? I’m not so sure.
Because when people use that word to describe me, I can’t help but feel like I’m being used as inspiration porn.
Ready to join The Flock?
When you join The Flock, you pay it forward. Every paid subscription generates a second for a woman on reduced income, ensuring we remain advertising-free and accessible to all.
Want to support us? Subscribe below for just £4.99 a month and get your first 14 days free. Can’t afford that right now? We'll be reopening our waitlist for paid forward memberships soon, so watch this space.
Got a gift card to redeem? Click here.
Already have an account? Sign in here.