Kansas City native, UMKC alumna, recent mother, and author are all appropriate terms to describe Rebekah Taussig.
In her debut semi-autobiographical book, “Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body,” Taussig reflects on her disabilities and how they affect all of us, indirectly or directly, through her personal experiences and lyrical essays.
Having lived in the Kansas City area for the majority of her life, Taussig is a Midwesterner through and through. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees at UMKC, and she went to the University of Kansas to earn a Ph.D. in 19th century British and American literature.
For Taussig, the genesis of her book started at UMKC.
“My friend sent me some disability studies scholarships in graduate school that I started reading and looking at,” said Taussig. “They sort of blew my mind, and changed how I looked at everything. It was a giant spark of creative and intellectual energy for me. And so, I was reading all of that academic work, but it was also highly personal. I started writing.”
While in college, outside of the disability studies scholarships, Taussig felt there was not any representation of disability culture or literature in her studies.
“I don’t know if I would call that ableist; however, I think it may be in a roundabout way,” she said. “It is just interesting in retrospect — now that I have done so much work — to look at just all of that disability literature, disability history, disability culture.”
Taussig started writing about her life as someone with disabilities on her Instagram account, @sitting_pretty. The purpose of the account is neatly described in the bio, which reads: “mini memoirs and photographs narrating life from my ordinary, resilient disabled body.”
After finishing her Ph.D., Taussig felt it was a good idea to expand her online platform into a book.
“I thought that that would be an easier transition because I was like, well, I’ve already had so much done in this online space,” Taussig said. “But it was just as hard as you would ever think writing a book would be.”
The completed book, “Sitting Pretty,” was published in August of this year. It has become a critical success with reviewers and readers alike.
Taussig reflects on everything from living independently with a disability to romance and relationships, and how prevalent ableism is in our everyday life and media. She challenges her readers, as well as her followers on Instagram, to consider those who have disabilities when doing day-to-day tasks. She wants to make people more aware of others who are different.
“It is like teaching people about oxygen so that we can be mindful of it. It is here; it is present,” Taussig said. “I talk about it in the book. I hope it’s engaging, and I hope it sparks curiosity and conversation so that we can look at it without feeling threatened, [but] feeling encouraged and passionate to do something about it.”