In a video posted on July 5, a TikToker with a chronic condition says that when parking in a spot designated for people with disabilities, she was told that she didn’t “look disabled.”
Rhiannon Stark (@DaddyRhi on TikTok) says she has fibromyalgia and deals with chronic pain. She has a handicap parking pass, noting that she is “legally disabled.” She has a highlight on her Instagram about her experiences with chronic pain.
“Tell me why this old motherfucker comes up to me and thinks it’s their business to go ‘You don’t look disabled,’” says Stark in her TikTok. “Do you want me to cut off my fucking legs, so I look disabled enough for you?”
Stark goes on to say that just because she may not fit into someone’s idea of what a person with disabilities looks like doesn’t mean that she is not disabled.
In a followup video, Stark says that although she doesn’t use her parking pass every day, she needs it on days when she is experiencing heightened chronic pain and finds walking to be more difficult.
“If there is a [parking spot] nearby, I will always choose to take that,” says Stark, explaining the choices she makes on days when her chronic pain isn’t as intense. “I understand there are people who are not as lucky as I am in my disability and need [parking spots designated for people with disabilities] more than I do.”
Stark’s experience with comments from passersby about her appearance is common for those with invisible disabilities, or “physical, mental or neurological condition that is not visible from the outside, yet can limit or challenge a person’s movements, senses, or activities.”
Fibromyalgia is a nerve disorder that causes pain all over one’s body and can cause a disability. Symptoms include chronic pain, fatigue, migraines, and sleep problems—all of which are not visible ailments.
According to the Invisible Disabilities Association, 74% of Americans who have a disability do not use devices that make their disability visible, such as crutches, canes, or wheelchairs. According to the Australian Network on Disability, “only 4.4% of people with a disability in Australia use a wheelchair.”
“It does amaze me that a lot of people have an opinion on where I park my car,” says Stark, “because honestly if I could give up my condition and park in a normal space, I would.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to Rhiannon Stark.
Today’s top stories
*First Published: Jul 9, 2021, 12:46 pm CDT
Tricia Crimmins is a journalist and comedian based in New York City. She is studying at Columbia Journalism School and writes for Moment magazine and Columbia News Service. Previously, she has written for Mashable, Complex Networks, and the Lewiston Sun Journal.