Toph’s blindness was one of the most excellently handled aspects of AtLA because it wasn’t treated like a disability. So often in shows (and especially children’s animation) disabled characters are limited to apperances in “very special episodes” where the main characters have to learn a lesson that these people are capable “in spite of” their handicaps, like that episode of Kim Possible wherein Kim constantly stumbles over herself around Felix. This approach is often just as insulting as making them the butt of jokes, because it’s patronizing and it limits the amount of roles disabled characters are allowed to have.

Avatar challenged that stereotype with Teo, and then sent a giant middle finger its way by introducing Toph. She’s turned what would otherwise be a disability into an advantage, and she’s not afraid to crack jokes about it. She functions well enough that the other characters often forget that she is blind, but at the same time it’s an integral part of her bending and allows her to be the greatest earthbender ever. It sends a powerful message that having a physical disability does not make you less of a person, and often affords you a unique perspective that the so-called “normal” people never get to experience.

One of the many reasons I love this show.

All of my Toph feels. And Avatar feels about how they tackle several themes that in many mainstream media is considered taboo, and gives every character the dignity they deserve.

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