Undateable…

This is a blog post that I’m not entirely convinced I should be writing, as I’m not really sure where my mind is with the whole thing. I was going to just brush the whole thing under the carpet and pretend it had never happened, but I can’t seem to stop thinking about it, and I figure writing about it will help me move on.

So here it is… On Friday morning I woke up to an email from the TV company Betty, who make the show ‘The Undateables’ on Channel 4. One of the casting assistant producers was basically asking whether I, or anyone I knew would be interested in appearing in the new series of the show. The email was fairly polite, and cleverly written in that it was obviously trying to not insult me… but I’m afraid that it failed pretty miserably with that.

The first thing that I was completely insulted by was the fact that she (I will not name the person who sent the email) claimed to have read my blog and had found it ‘really interesting’. However, a couple of paragraphs later she asked if I could help put them in contact with people through my charity work with Reach. Well Reach is the Association for Children with Upper Limb Deficiency, which I’m sorry to say I hadn’t even heard of, let alone worked with, until she mentioned them. So I’m guessing that she was using some sort of standard template email and forgot to change the charity name to one slightly more relevant to a spinal injury.

If this is the case that there is a standard email that the company is using to ‘recruit’ undateable people then I find that pretty appalling to be honest. To approach people specifically with a programme title of The Undateables is quite a bold move, and I think even the most thick skinned people would take some offence to that. It is one thing to advertise online somewhere that you are looking for people to appear on the new series, but to target individuals is pretty harsh.

Now I haven’t actually watched the show, but from what I hear from my family and friends is that it is quite a sweet show. It’s main focus seems to be matching up people with learning disabilities, or other mental/physical disabilities that people have had their whole lives. That doesn’t mean that they are happy about being different or that they enjoy not being ‘normal’, but it does mean that they don’t know any other way. In my case, I was ‘normal’ for the first 23 years of my life. And then I had a pretty horrendous accident that I still find extremely hard to come to terms with. In my mind I still try to be the person I was before my accident and I try so incredibly hard to not let the wheelchair hold me back. I tell everyone that I’m just the same person I was before, except I’m sitting down all the time now. So reading that email was pretty much a slap in the face if I’m honest.

I have also made no secret of the fact that I don’t really think I will ever meet anyone and have my happy fairytale ending that I used to believe I would have. I find it hard to believe that someone will be able to look past the wheelchair, beyond the paralysis and see the real me. I know this sounds really negative and cynical and sooo many people have told me that they are sure I would meet someone if I just put myself ‘out there’. Well I’m not ready to do that yet; confidence since my accident has been a real issue for me. I still don’t really like going out in public and don’t like that I can’t blend in anymore. But I have got much better at it over the last year, and I’ve actually started to have a bit more fun and feel more like my old self at times. Being labelled as Undateable knocks me right back down again and just reminds me that actually I’m not the same as everyone else and that I was right to think that I will probably never find anyone.

My family have been completely outraged by this email. They think it is completely unacceptable, and my brother-in-law is actually going to meet with the head producer next week to discuss it further. I, as usual, am putting on a brave face and saying it doesn’t bother me…I have learned over the past 3 years that this is the easiest way. I have grown a pretty tough outer shell, but underneath it all I am unfortunately still a little ball of slightly screwed up emotions. My future love life, and probable lack of marriage and kids, has always been the thing that I am most sensitive about. And somehow a complete stranger from Betty TV company has managed to hit me right where it hurts.

 

10 thoughts on “Undateable…

  1. No matter how cleverly worded, the concept of approaching people individually for a show named something quite so ‘headline grabbing’ shows a startling lack of empathy! I hope your brother-in-law manages to convey this to them and they rethink this practice.

  2. I am so sorry that you were hurt and offended by this callous person! How unthinking to approach you like that. I hope you feel better soon.

  3. Personally I believe it is good for the soul to get stuff out/down, so fair play for not brushing this under the carpet! And I hope your brother-in-law helps the producers re-think their ‘recruiting’ process because of this!

  4. I have followed your blog for a while now and have always marvelled at your strength. For such a tactless and crude ‘invitation’ to damage the progress you’ve worked so hard to achieve is appalling. I hope the programme makers are brought to account and made to realise that having an additional need does not make you needy.
    Carry on being strong. You are an inspiration to all.

  5. How insulting, you’re far from ‘undateable’ !!! You’ve got so much going for you, that’s why I admire you so much. It was one of my biggest hang ups when I left hospital , how could my husband find me attractive with all the complications of a spinal injury, but we manage, it’s not impossible. I hope you get a chance to tell them to f@@k off! This might be a kick in the arse you need to ‘put yourself out there’ – turn the situation upside down. Who knows this might be the right time for you to push yourself to another direction?

  6. that is absolutely unbelievable!

    i used to work in television & it really is a disgusting industry (for the most part). the way some tv companies & their more senior employees think they can get away with treating people is nothing short of abhorrent.

    i would say this person should be fired but chances are they were very much pressurised to send these emails, whether they felt comfortable doing it or not. still, they should be ashamed.

    (i read this post after it was tweeted by libertylondongirl, & i’ve never visited your blog before, but this piece – that must’ve been so hard to sit down & write – is so well done & you’ve put your point across so well. i think you’re incredibly admirable! keep your chin up!)

  7. Hi Suzanne,
    What an ignoramus! She can never have come in contact with the disabled or been an observer, of someone overcoming so many obstacles, traumas etc – watching their journey, admiring the courage, determination, endurance, perseverence – I could go on forever – that strengthen the character of a person who has faced such a life-changing accident.
    I go with your friend Fflur, perhaps it is what you needed – go out there and show them! Friendships, relationships are about connecting to the inner person..Character!!!! you’ve certainly got that…….get out there – you’ve got so much to share and offer to enrich our world.
    Good luck for your remaining time in China.
    love Celia

  8. Hello Suzanne,

    I’ve been out of the blog-o-sphere for a bit but I’m just catching up with everyone on my reader.

    I don’t know what to say about the researcher. How unprofessional! It sounds like she was fishing for information by quoting completely unsuitable charities.

    I watched the first series as and it was quite interesting. There were some people who where newely disabled, some who’d had their disability from birth and a few people with conditions like tourettes. The most recent series, however was starting to feel a bit desperate, and I can’t stand the condescending tone of the narrator!

    The implication that people with disabilities were ‘undateable’ really offends me too. The ‘undeatebale’ ones are the people too shallow to look past the wheelchair and appreciate the person that our disability has made us!

    Take all the time you need to decide when you want to set about finding that special person. It will take longer but they ARE out there. I’m currently single by choice but I have no doubt that I will eventually find the person who deserves me. And you will too x

  9. Hi, my partner alerted me to this blog post as he actually appeared on season two of the undateables and we met on season three. I’m sorry that the email that was sent to you made you feel so negative and shitty. The television industry can be extremely blunt and cold at times. However, the title of the show isn’t calling the contributors undateable, it is intended to break down prejudices and make the viewers see that no matter who we are we all want to be accepted and loved. Whilst participating may not be for everyone it can help not only you but people who may have been through what you have. My partner has tourettes and whilst he never took part with the intention of becoming dateable or finding love, he just wanted a platform to raise awareness for his condition and break down prejudices and misconceptions. He achieved this and since the show has become quite the ambassador for other TS sufferers. I hope this helps. Please don’t feel that anyone was labelling you undateable, and please don’t let it bring you down. I wish you luck with whatever path you take.

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