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Mayor With Prosthetic Leg Reveals Online Abuse

June 7, 2019

A mayor who has a prosthetic leg has reacted to social media “hate speak” about her choice of footwear which she believes could discourage disabled people from entering public life.

Stockport mayor Laura Booth, whose left leg was amputated below the knee as a child, said she was mocked on Facebook for wearing flat shoes to an event.

She said one comment read: “Look at the state of her”.

Ms Booth said her footwear did not diminish her ability to do her job.

The councillor, who also has chronic pain and back problems, wore pink leather lace-up shoes to a ceremony at a bakery in Reddish on Monday.

She said she wanted to walk to the event and stand up, rather than use her wheelchair.

‘Really nasty’

Ms Booth explained: “People commented on the bakery’s photo; ‘A mayor in trainers, disapproving face’, ‘Look at the state of her’. ‘Get back to your caravan’.

“They make these judgements and can get really nasty.”

Ms Booth, who lost her leg after a car crash, said: “I am prone to falling, I have a different gait so I need shoes with support. There is limited choice.

“It’s these attitudes which will put people off entering public life if they have a health condition or disability,” she said.

“Also a woman should be able to wear whatever shoes she wants irrespective of disability or not.”

The Labour member for Offerton said she wanted to highlight the “hostile narrative” which exists around disability and invited people to confront her in person.

“Bring it on. Come and say it to my face. My job is to show you disability is not inability. Sometimes you have to facilitate.

“In this event it was flat, lace-up shoes, so I can stand up and talk to people.

“It is insulting and wrong that people think my shoes determine my ability.”

Other people on Twitter showed their support by telling the councillor to “wear what is comfortable” and “ignore” any abuse.

One commented “only a woman would have her shoes scrutinised”.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Heather Hooper permalink
    June 7, 2019 4:03 am

    I hear that. I’ve had chronic back pain from failed back surgery for 11 years. The worst symptom, by far, is the muscle spasms*, which are very unpredictable and very debilitating.

    I try very hard not to trigger/worsen spasms. On an avg day I can stand 10min/walk 50-100m/sit 10-15min. Then do some stretches. Can usually repeat the activity 0-2 times before having to lie down/recline and rest. More activity likely to trigger/worsen a spasm.

    So I’m already pretty limited in what I can do. Wearing heels is 95% guaranteed to trigger a spasm after 2-3 minutes of standing/walking. NO HEELS. Had to insist on this when going to fancy restaurant w/ Dad and meeting important scientists with last boss. It isn’t an issue of style (although if it were, Dad and boss shouldn’t have commented either). It us an issue of health/disability adjustment.

    *Spasm details in case you’re curious:
    – Frequency: 1-5/week,
    – Length: Avg 2-12hrs, can be up to 9 days,
    – Intensity: 6.5-9.5/10 pain, very – completely immobilising,
    – Extent: Entire left lower back spasms. Usually spreads to upper-mid buttock, hip and hamstring. Sometimes spreads to calf, foot, toes. Occasionally spreads to left upper back, shoulder, neck.
    Treatment: 40% of time: 50-100mg tramadol, non-drug methods, bed rest.
    59% of time: up to 150mg tramadol, diazepam, oramorph, non-drug methods, bed-rest.
    1% of time: hospitalised for IV morphine.

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