24 January 2016

#AppearanceDiversity: help find Ellen a flatmate in Adelaide


I really want to help a friend out - and think that you lovely, open minded readers will be able to assist.

My friend Ellen is looking for a flatmate in Adelaide, Australia. Her fully furnished two bedroom flat is near Adelaide CBD & Flinders university. It has a car space and a garage for storage, plus an Internet connection. And it's $160 a week.

Ellen is 24 years old, studying her honours, she is friendly, has a cat and is tidy. She's so smart and is a good conversationalist (we've had some great chats online). Ellen also has a facial difference.

Picture of Ellen, who is looking for a flatmate. She has blonde hair a beautiful smile.

She's had inquires from over 50 potential flatmates since late December, and they've all fallen through. Ellen told me this experience has brought up questions about how she manages disclosing (or not) her facial difference.

"I've met a few nice people, but most turn up on my door step and I can see the "crap. What did I get myself into?" looks on their faces when I answer the door. They then usually quickly walk through the rooms, don't even really "look", then get out the door asap. It's like I've put them on the back foot by not giving them some kind of warning before hand. But the few times I did a brief introductory "friendly" email/text about me that just made it worse."

She's positive though. In Ellen's words:

"I tell myself that it is not a reflection on me, it's just that many are not "Worldly" enough yet. They haven't experienced enough in life and haven't needed to confront or entertain the possibility that a person who has a disability can be independent, capable, intelligent too. That the landlady advertising a nice apartment in a prime location in an inner city suburb might actually have a disability. Might be a bit out of the ordinary. Might look "disabled".

But I'm actually fiercely independent. I am insanely loyal to my friends, I will do anything to help others out, but can't stand being "helped", or mollycoddled. I don't like the tokenism that is implied when people say to my friends "it takes a really special person like you to be friends with Ellen". I am determined to succeed in life. Not just get by "inspite" of disability or set back. I will define myself beyond the experience of disability. I have to be able to prove that I'm more than the way I look - that there is more meaning & substance to my life."

I'm not sharing Ellen's story to evoke sympathy or pity. This is often the reality of looking different - the low expectations, closed mindedness, discomfort and rejection. And while she's not taking the reactions personally, she can accurately read these reactions to her appearance.

I'm sharing Ellen's story to help get her a flatmate. She loves living in her flat and deserves someone to treat her respectfully, help cover half the costs and form a true friendship. And I know, from the conversations about facial difference and disability you've had on this blog and my Facebook and Instagram accounts, you're the right people to share it with.

If you know of a person who's looking to share a flat in Adelaide, please share this post. Thank you.


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