An amputee without legs turned to TikTok to scold a woman who had engaged with her for parking in a handicapped spot. On Jan. 13, 28-year-old Jessica Long, a decorated swimmer who won one gold, three silver, and two bronze medals at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, slammed the nameless person for assuming that she had no right to the space even though she has a handicap parking permit.
“So, it just happened again,” she says in the now-viral TikTok. “I was parking my car — and I hope she sees this — this woman just has the nerve to look me up and down disgusted that I parked in the handicapped spot.”
And this experience isn’t a one-time thing. “I get two to four comments per week, just going about my normal routine and parking in handicap spaces. I’ve had people yell at me, leave notes on my windshield, knock on my car window, or wait for me to get out of my car just to tell me I can’t park there. My worst experience to date was an older couple that followed me around a grocery store and kept making comments because they wanted the handicap spot I took and said that I didn’t need it. I even explained I had two prosthetic legs and they told me I was a liar,” she explained in one of her Instagram posts .
After she had to defend herself for parking in a handicapped spot, Jessica Long made a TikTok to tell people to be careful when making assumptions
It all started when a woman pulled up next to Jessica’s car and gave her a disrespectful look, saying she shouldn’t be parking there
But Jessica is an amputee — she doesn’t have legs
Jessica said her initial reaction when people shame her for parking in handicap spots is always hurt. “I get it, I don’t ‘look’ handicapped, but what does that even mean?! I’ve been through more surgeries than I can count. My whole life I’ve had to adapt. I rely on my handicap pass. Every day is different… some days my legs don’t hurt as bad, but for the most part, they cause me pain. So, when I park in a handicapped spot, I actually need it. There are some people who will abuse handicap parking, but mostly I believe people need it.”
The woman whose video already has 4.2 million views was born with a birth defect called fibular hemimelia
650K people follow Jessica on TikTok and 57,000 on Instagram. It’s undeniable that she’s making an impact helping to reshape the way society sees disabled people. “I think people are afraid to ask questions because society says it’s rude, but a lot of times that translates to shame around the topic of disabilities,” she said. “I absolutely love sharing my story and journey with the world. I hope to educate how amputees use their prosthetic legs. We make it look easy and it’s a natural part of our everyday lives, but it’s also hard and can be painful.”
“My adoptive parents had those amputated when I was 18 months old so I could be fitted with prosthetic legs and learn to walk”
Jessica is a great swimmer: she’s a 13-time Paralympic champion!
She began swimming in her grandparents’ pool and joined her first competitive team at age 10
At age 12, she became the youngest member of the US Paralympics team, winning 3 gold medals during her debut at the Athens 2004 Games
Having achieved so much, Jessica loves being an inspiration, but doesn’t want to be treated as “other.”
She said, “If I can do it with the challenges I face, you can too. What I don’t like is people commenting how ‘inspiring’ I am doing normal daily tasks like grocery shopping, getting coffee, or taking a walk. THAT is not inspiring. People can be inspired by my work ethic, career, healthy lifestyle, or positive attitude, but not me living my normal life.”
Here’s what people said after watching her viral TikTok