20 Top Strange (and Actually said!) Things NOT to Say to Amputees
We all have moments where we stick a foot in our mouth (pun intended). When you have only one foot the moment can be even more awkward. Here is my top 20 list of things that are said to me, an amputee, which I rhetorically/sarcastically respond to below. I must note here that the intentions of the speakers are typically not rude or heartless but just because I do not believe most people have ill intentions in saying these things doesn’t mean I shouldn’t and draw the line in the sand for basic conversation etiquette. Take a moment to read my humor-inspired top 20 list below and feel free to add a few of your own in the comments!
Humor Disclosure Statement: My rhetorical responses (in italics) are to be humorously interpreted by other amputees and may sound extra harsh to make a point. Some humor may not translate for my two legged counterparts. Reader Beware!
- “Mmmm…I don’t see another leg there…” – Well I’m really glad you aren’t seeing double.
- “It’s such a shame…you’re so pretty…” – Can someone explain this one to me? When did having all your limbs become a requirement for a pretty face? Last time I looked at someone that was pretty it wasn’t because of her pedicure.
- “You have so much courage to wear a bathing suit and come out here like that” – I hadn’t really thought about it until you pointed out what a freak I must look like. Should I go slit my wrists now…or after our water aerobics class?
- “Thank you for your service to our country…or, well, um…seeing your tattoo was it a motorcycle accident?” – Tattoos do not mean I was a biker babe (note the past tense) but seeing that mole on your chin I did wonder if you were the wicked witch of the west at one point.
- “Come away kids, we don’t ask questions!” – First of all, let them ask. It is better for a kid to ask and then leave it alone than for you to loudly correct them in a way that insults me by assuming I am also deaf.
- “Can I get the door or are you going to snap at me? SOME PEOPLE get mean, you know…” – SOME PEOPLE are rude enough to slam the door in your face too but it doesn’t mean you should! I’m a lady with two crutches in my hands, a smile on my face, and a bag on top of it: open the door for me. I can’t help other people have issues but now that you are projecting their attitudes on me I am tempted to get snippy.
- “Where did your other leg go?” – It rotted in the grave twenty five years ago. Do you really want to know? Or perhaps I lost it and if you find it be sure to let me know.
- “Maybe someday you will find a young man that will love you in spite of this.” – When I was single this was said to me more than any other comment. I don’t care what was “intended” by this statement it is rude. It always made me want to say “well looking at you (knowing you got married) I find hope.”
- “How OLD were you?” – Is there an age prerequisite for amputation? Yes, yes, it’s a shame that I was only four years old but what are you getting at? No, amputation as a child isn’t any easier than for an adult. Disability means you must motivate yourself to move and be healthy regardless of the age. Speaking of age, how old were you when you lost your manners?
- “I guess I shouldn’t complain about my problems to YOU…look at YOU!” – The truth is that we all have problems no matter how great or small. My biggest problem is not on the same wavelength as that of a bilateral amputee. But really, stop comparing and assuming that I must be doing awful just because I am missing a leg. Seeing you missing your brain through these comments makes me feel sorry for you instead.
- “I wasn’t sure if that was you and then I realized…duh!” – It’s always nice to know your friends recognize you by your number of feet. I wouldn’t mind this comment if I was with a group out drinking and there was no other way to identify Ashly Ash, but since you more than likely aren’t incapacitated this is a comment you can just keep to yourself.
- “You should wear your leg, you seem so weak with only one.” – Weak = missing body parts? I’m sorry but to me weak = your limited perception of true strength and courage. End of.
- “Well, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?” – Actually that is not always true. It almost killed me and it killed many others that were there with me. I’m not here because I’m strong I’m here because God ordained it and He kept me alive. That being said do you have any idea how hard my life is or has been? Don’t brush my sacrifices off with a petty silver-lined comment that says you feel you have rationalized and justified my entire life in seven words.
- “Why aren’t you wearing your leg?” – Not sure, why aren’t you wearing red underwear? Why aren’t you wearing a hat? Hey, a pair of spanx could really dress you up a little! I have my own reasons do I really need to explain them publicly? Move on!
- “If I were you I would kill myself” – Nothing motivates and encourages me to face another day as a handicapped woman like this comment. Really?
- “My brother’s, nephew’s, sister has a niece that is cousins with a girl dating a guy that lost his pinky and still runs a marathon!” (Exaggerated family tree …but surely everyone knows SOME distant connection) – I don’t care. Really. As bluntly as I can say this I will repeat myself: I don’t care. Each amputee is different. Each level of amputation is different and we don’t all carry some membership card stamped that we joined a club. We are individuals. I also don’t care if you saw the latest technology on television. Truthfully, my insurance won’t cover any of that stuff for another 15 years anyway. It’s like me reminding you that my sister’s husband has a brother that married a white woman. Just sayin’…
- “You are so brave, I wouldn’t even leave the house, I would curl up in a ball and die” – Maybe that would be best for you then if your entire self-worth is wrapped up in what you look like when you walk out your door. Life goes much deeper than looks.
- “Wait, you are married like that?” – Yup, freak girl with one leg and metal rods managed to snag herself a man. And not one that felt sorry for her either…imagine that. This comment makes me sad for people because they must not understand what true love is about.
- “I wonder if you can have kids like THAT?” – Well, I don’t have any yet. How do you know that isn’t a sensitive topic that may cause me to burst into tears? How rude! I don’t ask you if you can have kids like THAT…
- “Does the bone still stick out?” – C’mon don’t be stupid. Educate yourself. Moving on.
That about sums up the most frequent comments made to me. I am sure that if you are reading this and you are an amputee you have a few of your own, and I would love to read them. Leave a comment below the article to share with all of us or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I may add it for you!
To my two-legged compadres that have suffered and probably even found yourself in the above list: I love you and wouldn’t have had an article if it weren’t for your clumsiness! Thank you for being you and I am more than sure you have experienced plenty of inconsiderate statements directed at you. Share those stories with me as well!