Student Lydia Hawthorne spent much of her senior year bedridden in severe pain. A previously stellar student, she watched her grades drop because she couldn’t attend class. Fortunately, her luck turned around when she discovered a loophole: fake protest.
“Schools don’t listen to doctor’s notes and accommodations,” Hawthorne explains, “but they are rendered powerless by hippie nonsense.” She has claimed to protest almost everything from war to global warming to the school’s “flavorless” cafeteria pancakes. The only consistency, it seemed, was her insistence that her cause required her to remain lying down.
“I was super worried when I started this journey that I’d be held to an impossibly high standard,” Hawthorne recounts. “As a disabled person, I rely pretty heavily on delivery and processed food. I thought that people might call me a hypocrite for being against billionaires and then turning around and ordering shampoo from huge megacorporations. As it turns out, nobody really cares what I do as long as I look righteous doing it.”
Hawthorne has added tie-dye and tassels to her wardrobe, noting that they confuse casual activist types into agreeing with anything.
“Once, I woke up to a message from my friend. Someone had superimposed my shopping list over a picture of me wearing big sunglasses and bell bottoms. It had two thousand shares. People were calling it profound,” Hawthorne recalls, laughing.
Unfortunately, the one issue she can’t seem to touch is the systemic ableism within her school.
“Trust me, I’ve tried. They keep telling me that accessibility is too big an issue. Last week I was protesting world hunger, but suddenly adding an online program and an elevator is undoable.”
The rejection of Hawthorne’s access needs is a metaphorical shot to the head that can be compared to the one that ended the activism career of her inspiration, John Lennon. Unlike the late Beatle, though, Lydia Hawthorne is forced to continue her hollow campaign, armed with only her wits and her Austin Powers costume from Party City. The one certainty? She will not take prejudice lying down.