“Anyway, I am a woman, and this is enough.” Powerful words from our latest Inspired storyteller, Fatine Oliveira who has given us insight into her journey as a woman with disability.
Inspired stories have the power to resonate with all women across the world, across many languages and cultures. As we know, every woman’s journey is unique, and it is in this difference we can learn from and support each other. I’m delighted to introduce you to Fatine from Brazil and I thank her for sharing her story from across the globe with us.
Tell us about yourself – (for example; who you are, where you live, how old are you?)
My name is Fatine Oliveira, I’m 34 years old. I’m Brazilian, live in Belo Horizonte city.
What has been your journey of disability?
I have a genetic condition , called muscular dystrophy. I have had it since I was child and as a result I couldn’t walk like other kids. When I was little, I fell many times, so I used orthotics on my legs but it hurt my feet. My family bought a wheelchair for me when I was 8 years old. My youth was very difficult for me, I had depression for many years. I saw my body being different to my friends, and I couldn’t understand why people didn’t like me. In my head, I was the same person who was the same as anyone else. I went to a therapist and changed my thoughts and my point of view. Feminism helped me feel like a woman, because before I wasn’t feeling that. I had difficulty with relationships, men used to have preconceptions about me. I had three boyfriends, one of them unfortunately was abusive.
Are there things about you that people misunderstand because of your disability?
Yeah, that people used to treat me like a child or think I’m dumb.
Who inspires you? …Where do you get inspiration from?
I like to listen to other women and use their stories to inspire me.
Which three words would you use to describe yourself?
Funny, smart and coffee (I LOVE).
What is one thing, experience or person you have had that completely changed your life?
Well, I think the feminism changed my life. After I learned more about the movement, I understood me, and felt more like a woman notwithstanding I have a different body, and don’t walk.
Anyway, I am a woman and this is enough. When I learnt that, I could write about it, and inspire others women with disability to feel the same.
Who or what has been the most significant influences on who you are today?
In Brazil it is my friend Leandrinha Duart. She’s trans with disability and fights against the prejudice with LGBTs.
What’s one thing about you that surprises people?
My good humor and my beauty (I think LOL). I think my ideas surprise people too.
For what are you most grateful today?
For my family who support me everyday, my friends who love me and the opportunity I have to do something different and better each morning.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
You are intelligent, beautiful and are a good person. Don’t worry about people’s comments, you will realise your dreams and do something really special in your life. Believe in yourself.
Do you have a funny story involving or relating to having your disability you can share?
In college, when the class was boring, I did ask teacher if I can go to bathroom with my friends (they usually helped me). Then we stayed out of class and went to gymnasium see
the boys played soccer!!
Is there something that you would like people to know about you or about people with disability that they might not know?
People with disability are people like anyone. We have feelings, dreams, can work and contribute with many things for this world, but; it’s necessary that we are offered accessibility for that. We have rights, but many countries don’t follow. We need be more effective with these things, and be more human between us all.