'I just say it like it is': Why woman with paraplegia likes the term 'pretty cripple'

Beth Greenfield
Senior Writer
Yahoo Lifestyle
Magdalena Truchan (Photo: Emily Soto for Yahoo Lifestyle)
Magdalena Truchan (Photo: Emily Soto for Yahoo Lifestyle)

Accessible Beauty is a miniseries of profiles that Yahoo Lifestyle will run the week of Dec. 3 in order to continue the spirit of that date’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, created by the United Nations. That story focused on six empowering individuals, and today we highlight one of them, Magdalena Truchan, 48, a graphic designer and style blogger living with paraplegia resulting from a car accident when she was 24.

Why Pretty Cripple is the name of her blog: I am an irreverent, politically incorrect person. In an email to a friend one day, I said something like, “Did you see those pretty cripples in that room?” My friend was like, “Wow, did you just say that?” I thought, wow that would be a perfect blog name. I wanted it to be irreverent and also make people think about what that means. Because “cripple” can mean a lot of different things — mentally crippled, emotionally crippled, don’t cripple the government budget. I had to use it, because I just say it like it is. Some people get offended, but most totally get it. A lot of people want to be offended and enjoy the witch-hunt du jour. But it’s just tongue-in-cheek is what it is.

On facing stigmas: Surprisingly, in my life, people are very helpful, and I’ve never found that I’m discriminated against. As a disabled person, people will cut me off in line, they won’t notice me, but you have to be determined. It forces you to be more direct and assertive and vocal about who’s pissing you off.  … I admire people who are advocates for the disabled. I don’t think I’d have the patience for that.

On what makes her feel most beautiful: 
Fashion and lipstick. I’ve always loved fashion since I was a kid — hats! I think it’s really boring waking up as the same person every day, so I [always] style my hair a different way, wear a different hat, a different lipstick, a different perfume. … I feel like you’re transformed into a different person. I think that’s because I’m a Virgo and an artist, I don’t know. But there’s a thrill, not in a shopaholic way, but in finding that one piece that you know looks great on you and makes you feel good. There’s an energy about a good outfit. I’ve always fed off of that.

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