“I can’t think of a day outside of the house when I haven’t been stared at, intruded upon or abused because of my appearance.”
Writer, speaker and activist Carly Findlay lives with both a rare skin condition and unwanted attention, remarks and discrimination from strangers.
“Leading an active, fulfilled and successful life when people stare, comment and ridicule is an act of defiance,” she wrote in Say Hello, her new memoir.
“I have the courage to look the world in the eye when the world sometimes looks away, or looks too much.”
Findlay, who grew up in Walla and attended Lavington’s Murray High School, told The Border Mail a book was a logical next step from her blogging and ongoing media work.
“I thought I’m going to start writing and then I got some interest from publishers and I thought that’s weird because I’ve haven’t told anyone,” she said.
“Then we did a book proposal and put it out to nine publishers and I got five ‘yes’ so had to say no to four.”
Say Hello combines personal history and photos with information to get the reader thinking about how they respond to those with visible differences.
“Remembering if you’re a non-disabled person to really listen to disabled people,” she said.
“The idea that ‘nothing about us without us’ is really important, that we deserve to be heard and our voices matter.
And when putting together diversity events making sure that disability is included.”
Findlay took time to identify as disabled, wanting to fit in as a child and seeing nobody else with her condition in the world around her.
“I think if I knew that I could ask for help or that I could have had a reasonable adjustment in the school environment that would have definitely helped,” she said.
“Many people see disability as such a negative thing I think if I had of seen it as positive, as a community culture, that would have definitely helped more.”
In her book, Findlay chose not to name the radio presenter behind an inappropriate interview last year but did mention those who later offered her support.
“I think it really showed me just how much the tide is turning on recognising this kind of ableism, this kind of sensationalism in the media,” she said.
“When there’s a disability outrage, or however you describe it, in the media, often it’s only disabled people talking about it but we had so many non-disabled allies stepping up.”
Say Hello is dedicated to everyone who has felt alone because of their disability but also to her younger self.
“It is time to be the person Little Carly needed,” Findlay wrote.
Say Hello by Carly Findlay, published by HarperCollins Australia, is now available in all good bookstores and online. Carly Findlay will talk about her memoir at The Cube Wodonga on March 7, tickets available online.
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