A Paralympic swimmer who had both of her legs amputated has revealed that a woman tried to shame her for parking in a handicapped spot because she didn’t realize she was disabled — saying this happens to her all of the time.
Jessica Long, who is training for the 2021 Paralympics in Tokyo, took to TikTok to call out the woman for making assumptions about her in a viral video that has been viewed more than 4.4. million times.
‘So, it just happened again,’ the 28-year-old from Baltimore, Maryland, griped. ‘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.’
Upset: Paralympian Jessica Long, 28, has called out a woman for shaming her for parking in a handicapped spot in a viral TikTok video, saying: ‘I don’t have legs!’
Awful: Jessica, who is a double amputee, said that the stranger gave her a ‘disgusted’ look and told her she shouldn’t park in a handicapped space
Jessica pulled out her handicapped pass in her car to show the camera, saying: ‘I don’t have legs!’ She noted that she didn’t need to tell the woman that, but she did anyway.
‘She just kind of rolled down her window and proceeded to be like, “You shouldn’t park there,”‘ she recalled. ‘I was just like, “Okay, I’m an amputee. I don’t have legs.
‘That’s why I’m parked in the handicapped [space]. That’s why I have the handicapped pass. And she kind of just drove off.’
Jessica said things like this happen to her a lot, admitting that she gets picked on more as an adult than she did as a child.
Hard to handle: When Jessica explained that she doesn’t have legs, the woman ‘just drove off’
Childhood: Jessica was born birth defect called fibular hemimilia and was missing her fibula bones and several other bones in her lower legs
‘I was never bullied as a kid and I didn’t know that I was going to be bullied by adults because I park in handicap,’ she said.
‘And I get it. I’m young, I’m athletic, but I’m also missing legs! And I know I make it look easy, but it’s still really hard. My legs are heavy, they hurt me. I’m in pain.’
The athlete ended her video with a message for ‘all the handicapped police out there.’
‘Just be kind,’ she said. ‘You don’t need to know why someone is parked in handicapped.’
Live-changing: Jessica had both of her legs amputated at 18 months old so she could learn to walk with prosthetics
Success: The swimmer is now training for the 2021 Paralympics in Tokyo, which will be her fifth time competing. She has won 23 medals, 13 of which are gold
Jessica was born in Russia with a birth defect called fibular hemimilia.
‘I was missing my fibula bones and several other bones in my lower legs. I did have a little foot with three toes on each leg,’ she told BuzzFeed.
Jessica’s biological mother, who was only 16, put her up for adoption out of fear she wouldn’t be able to care for her because of her disability.
Her American parents adopted her when she was 13 months old.
Five months later, they had both of her legs amputated so she could learn to start walking with prosthetic legs. She had to have over 25 surgeries growing up, but her life changed for the better when she discovered swimming.
Candid: Jessica said she gets ‘mean comments’ weekly for parking in handicapped spots. ‘My legs are heavy, they hurt me. I’m in pain,’ she explained
Hitting back: ‘I was never bullied as a kid and I didn’t know that I was going to be bullied by adults because I park in handicap,’ she said
Jessica was just 12 years old when she competed in her first Paralympics and won three gold models. She has since won a total of 23 medals, 13 of which are gold, and is now training for her fifth Paralympic Games.
Thousands of people have commented on her thought-provoking video, with one person noting: ‘Karens are always minding everyone’s business.’
As long as there is a plate or placard it’s none of your business,’ someone else agreed, while another wrote: ‘I love when that happens to me. I wish I could throw my leg at them!’
Some people argued that while the woman was in the wrong, she was trying to do the right thing. However, Jessica explained in the comments that this wasn’t the first time this has happened to her.
‘I get mean comments weekly… I’ve had so many notes left on my car,’ she said. ‘I’ve had people call me names, knock on my car window and wait for me to get out just to say I can’t park there.’