Ella Glendining’s candid documentary sheds light on the experiences of being a woman in her 20s living with a condition commonly known as proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD). Despite not using this term in the film, Glendining openly shares her journey of navigating life without hip joints and short femurs. Despite being able to walk and use a wheelchair, she faces challenges primarily due to society’s discriminatory views.
These include those who are excruciatingly well-meaning: Glendining and a friend with autism recount a revealing anecdote about Glendining using her wheelchair in the street, and someone quite far away on the pavement starting to cringe away from her, apparently making space but in a weirdly self-aggrandising way, radiating coded pass-agg hostility while saying: “Sorry … sorry … sorry … thank you … sorry …”
Glendining has a partner who is not disabled and a child. She believes that the difficulties she encounters as a young mother and a young person in her profession, which is film and TV, are primarily due to ableism. Her physical disabilities are not the root of the challenges, although her condition is rare. In fact, she used to feel completely alone and trapped before the internet, but now she longs to connect with others who share her experiences. She expresses, “I desire to see myself in someone else.”
Glendining embarks on a trip to the United States to connect with others facing similar circumstances, as well as the able-bodied parents of children affected by the same condition. She has a tense encounter with Dr. Dror Paley, a renowned practitioner of limb-lengthening surgery at his opulent Florida clinic adorned with life-sized images of himself. While Dr. Paley views the surgery as a positive advancement, Glendining sees it as a painful and distressing process that perpetuates ableist ideals of the body. Tensions arise when Dr. Paley suggests that those who oppose his perspective simply need to be “educated”, although there is no explicit on-camera discussion. Glendining, on the other hand, offers her own form of education.