The song that was attached to a YouTube video a few years back was recently deleted, but intrigued me. The song tried to lift the barriers that the medical model of disability conveys. The song used was “Individuality” by the U.K. band, Area 7. Some thought provoking words were “The years go by, you find that nothing comes easily. And the world is full of people tryin’ take you down.” This really spoke to me personally as well as who I have interacted with in the disability community especially in the Autistic community. The song really helps us accept our own self since we need to have less self-doubt, less influence from others, and more of our own identity. This song is more about post-structuralist social model of disability because it does not speak about impairments rather about striving to be the best we can be.
To me, the song tries to convey something Jim Sinclair wrote about in his “Don’t Mourn for Us” speech when he wrote, “We need and deserve families who can see us and value us for ourselves, not families whose vision of us is obscured by the ghosts of children who never lived…But don’t mourn for us.” (Sinclair pg. 9) I feel Jim Sinclair’s quote really compliments this song.
A paper by Steven Van Wolputte, explores several authors in his paper where he reports, “Or, as Mead (1974) notes: We cannot be ourselves unless we are also members…He pointed out that a self is a social structure and process that arises in and from social experience, that it involves the body, and the self – …” (Van Wolputte pg. 261) These words from the article and song reminded me how people like myself in the disability community feel today from non-disabled people in society. I have felt society needs to understand people in the disability community and people who seem different. We are members of society too who need to identify the way we want to be represented. Instead people typically don’t see how disabled people like myself can live full successful lives. We are always made to feel odd and different. These lyrics from the video, immediately made me feel this should be everybody’s anthem while going to school and growing up. In 2nd grade, I met with the school psychologist, who told my mom I would not be able to graduate high school, learn to be my own person, and live a fulfilling successful life.
In an article by Loja, Costa, Hughes, and Menezes, I further determine why the song is so powerful, “[Disabled individuals] confront physical and attitudinal barriers and stereotypes about their capacity for intimacy and configure themselves in ways that challenge centuries of oppression, refusing to internalize ableism, demanding recognition for who they are and what they want to become.” (Loja pg. 198) This empowers me to build my life even through the vast ableism I have faced in my life, and create who I am from all the struggles I have overcome as a part of society.
The song from a post-structuralist social model shows us what being an individual is; “not being so vain, not being so proud, but rising above,” (from Area 7) the intellectual standards society tells us what we can be, to be ourselves. Van Wolputte states, “It is therefore important to distinguish between, on the one hand, the self as an embodied process of self-making, of becoming (the body self), and on the other hand, the socially sanctioned self-image or representational Self.” (Van Wolputte pg. 262) People need to stop and think about the broader scope of humanity and how any one can be an individual.
Even though I didn’t know I was Autistic in 2nd grade, I did know I was disabled, which led me to feel society’s perception of the disabled. We need help and support to fight for our own individuality to build our confidence, and to fight back from society’s perception of disability.
Area 7 – Individuality Lyrics | MetroLyrics http://www.metrolyrics.com/individuality-lyrics-area-7.html
Sinclair, J. (1993). Don’t mourn for us. Our Voice. The newsletter of Autism Network International, 1(3).
Van Wolputte, S. (2004). Hang on to your self: Of bodies, embodiment, and selves. Annual Review of Anthropology, 251-269.
Loja, E., Costa, M. E., Hughes, B., & Menezes, I. (2013). Disability, embodiment and ableism: Stories of resistance. Disability & Society, 28(2), 190-203.
Individuality by Area 7
They always said that you would never be anything.
Everything you tried to do was just a waste of time.
But you believed you could do anything you wanted to.
You made your mind up and you never looked behind.
Don’t let them try to tell you how to live your life.
Don’t let them hold you back, don’t ever change your mind.
Individuality – Be proud of what you are
Individuality – Don’t let them cut you down
You can be whatever you want to be,
But don’t change yourself for society.
Don’t lose your Individuality.
The years go by, you find that nothing comes easily.
And the world is full of people tryin’ take you down.
Don’t ever turn your back on anything you’ve ever been.
You don’t need to prove yourself to anybody else.
There’s no room for second best, no second chance, don’t fail the test,
Gotta rise above the rest, gotta try to make your mark.
You don’t need to be so vain, no need to act so proud,
Follow the trends, don’t ever stand out from the crowd.
Do you really care what other people think about you?
Does it really matter what they do or what they say?
You’ve fought too hard to let them throw it all back in your face.
When their opinion never mattered anyway.