Physical Health & Ability

Why is being fully able-bodied, healthy and fit seen as a privilege
Physical health is the extent to which an individual’s body is free from ailments, disease and impairments. People with chronic illnesses and physical disabilities have greater challenges in their daily lives. This can in turn affect how they are perceived by and interact with wider society.

Why is being able-bodied seen as a privilege?

Being able-bodied is the definition that someone is healthy and not physically disabled. This extends day to day advantage because they are able tofreely navigate society and are not impeded by the burden of obstacles and physical challenges.


Ableism is centred on the assumption that people who are not fully able-bodied are ‘less than’ and ‘need fixing’. It defines people by their disability, and is fuelled by discrimination and social prejudices rooted in the belief that typical abilities are far superior.


  • I don’t have to research the accessibility of a route before my journey
  • When I’m having a low mood, or feeling stressed, people won’t attribute this to my physical ability
  • If I decide to have children, I am praised and not criticised that my physical ability will hinder my ability to be a good parent

Stats don’t lie

  • The disability pay gap means that people with disabilities effectively work for free for the last 2 months of the year (TUC: Disability Pay Gap Day, Nov 2019)
  • Life costs £583 more on average a month if you have a disability (SCOPE – The Disability Price Tag Report 2019)
  • 19% percent of people with disabilities said they have experienced unfair treatment at work and 14% said they had experienced some form of bullying or harassment. (Equality and Human Right Commissions: Barriers to employment and unfair treatment at work, 2013)

What to do next?

The assumption is that being able-bodied, means one is physically strong and healthy, can easily arrange to get to places and can be independent. Some who appears to be physically fit and strong also gives the impression that they are disciplined and committed to a healthy lifestyle. If you’re interested in starting a journey to learn more, join the Privilege Project today.

Watch the recorded session on Physical Health & Ability privilege from our launch event.