Those of you who know me know I've fallen in love with Grey's Anatomy. I find it, overall, to be fantastically compelling. It's hit and miss (in my opinion) with regard to disability representation, at least physical disability representation. I find a lot of the portrayals of mental illness to be more accurate.
But I wanted to take a look at this scene (through :45), where we have Dr. Arizona Robbins (in the white lab coat) who is, at this point in the show, an amputee. Her coworker, Dr. April Kepner (in the navy blue scrubs) approaches, and is flanked by her three sisters, who are in town for April's impending bridal shower. They have never met Arizona before, and their awkwardness here knows no bounds:
The thing is, this is super realistic! The ableist attitudes we, as disabled people face by complete strangers is just this awkward! It doesn't matter where I am (home, the store, out of state) I have strangers coming up to me often enough to say things just like this! I have gotten variations of "You are such a good walker!" and it's so strange. Too often, I react like Arizona (who can't very well tell off April's ableist sisters in her place of work) just smiling and nodding until they walk away. I do enjoy April making several attempts to shut them down, though.
If you're disabled, you'll probably totally get this post, and if not, here's a tip: If you see a disabled person and want to say something about how they physically move through the world but you don't know them? Keep it to yourself. We're like Arizona, at work (or at home, or at the store) just living our lives. We don't like being patronized. So, if you're in the middle of regaling us with the tale of your three-legged cat and how well he hops along and inspires you? Listen to April and just "stop talking."