‘I have cerebral palsy and Beyoncé touted body acceptance but took advantage of mine’

I didn’t know the slur Beyoncé used in her song “Heated” until I researched it as someone else realized it. I’m not surprised when I see stigma against people with disabilities in the media. But the fact that a celebrity who encourages self-acceptance, positive body image, and self-esteem uses the word “sp**”—a derogatory term derived from disrupted muscle movements in people with spastic cerebral palsy—is shocking tome.

As a child with spastic cerebral palsy growing up in Suffolk, Virginia, I incurred a series of hateful comments and judgments. I attribute this to a lack of empathy, social stigma, and a lack of education about differences.

I still experience this at 49. Despite being a successful bodybuilder, I’ve been rejected countless jobs, accused of being drunk, publicly reprimanded and called “responsible”. This is all due to the fact that I show a label with cerebral palsy and physical differences as my fine and gross motor skills are affected and my speech is different than most people. It’s incredibly frustrating to have most of society think I’m mentally and physically incompetent due to preconceived judgments and thoughts. I was often spoken to in an unbelievably loud, slow and demeaning tone.

I am also often asked if I need help. When I politely answer “I’m fine,” my difficulty speaking often leads that person to ask someone nearby if I’m really fine, as if I’m not sure I need extra help, even if it’s not necessary. However, due to cerebral palsy and other Physical disability does not appear to be seen as a pressing social issue, and these comments are often ignored.

Steve Alexy lives in Virginia and has won many awards as a bodybuilder.
Steve Alexey

I often see examples of “discarded” comments that offend disabled people like me. In the media and in social situations, I often hear words like “special” and “sluggish.” The latter is now a commonly used term in social dictionaries. It seems to me that the world somehow fails to see speech patterns and movements that imitate the physically handicapped, or make fun of the behavior of disabled people like me, such as tripping and falling, or saying things that aren’t right.

So it’s very offensive to me and others like me when songwriters who encourage social acceptance of difference are selling records and gaining celebratory status from apparently exploiting said difference. The idea of ​​touting body acceptance while shaming it is contradictory at best.

I don’t know Beyoncé’s motivation for announcing that she will replace the word “sp**” in the song. She said through a representative, “This word, not intended to be used in a harmful way, will be replaced.” But I strongly think that if she or Jay-Z or one of their children has cerebral palsy or a physical disability, she may The word will not be used in the first place.

I also heard recently that singer Lizzo used the same slur as Beyoncé on her song “GRRRLS”, then apologized and re-recorded the song without that word. As her comments suggest, I’m not sure if this is a PR move or genuine remorse for causing pain. I’m not very politically correct and I’ve made mistakes, but these celebrities with public platforms need to realize how much damage their words can do to someone’s life. I think the life of a person with cerebral palsy is more valuable than the rhythm or hook of a song. But I see that people in high positions don’t always respect people with this disability. Before he became president of the United States, I remember Donald Trump publicly disparaging a physically disabled reporter in 2015.

Steve Alexie and his fiancee
Steve Alexy lives with his fiancee in Williamsburg, Virginia. Alexy has cerebral palsy, but he says it doesn’t make him feel inferior.
Steve Alexey

I want to see public figures, social influencers, politicians and celebrities shed light on cerebral palsy and lend their names and voices to disabilities that I don’t think have ever caught the attention of others.

Also, I just want to connect with celebrities or social influencers with my personal experience and voice addressing cerebral palsy and physical disabilities. As the world becomes more inclusive, I would like to see mental and physical disabilities become an important part of the global conversation.

Ironically, I’m very active behind the scenes. I work out, have a job, and recently got engaged. However, I was rated as inferior by others. I am not inferior. I would appreciate it if people didn’t treat me that way.

Steve Alexy is a bodybuilder who lives with his fiancée in Williamsburg, Virginia. You can follow him on Instagram @stevethefitone or @the.wonderduo.

All opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.

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