So when starting this blog I knew I wanted to strike a balance between talking and starting conversations about the hard stuff, illness, pain, loss, vulnerability, and also sharing my other passions such as music, fashion etc. It is easy to pigeon hole someone as ill or well, book smart or street smart, into fashion or math. Yet that does not paint a picture of people. All parts make me, and so, I decided I would be doing Fashion Fridays.
I've been obsessed with clothes, style and fashion since I was a young girl. I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic-aka there is no such thing as too much leopard. I would even put on fashion shows for my poor, supportive mother. I was always a giver though and made sure to provide imaginary popcorn before the start of each show. I would then yell at her when she wasn’t eating said imaginary popcorn correctly. Me? Control issues? No, that won’t be a theme on here. I'm not sarcastic either.
I woke up like this... Flawless.
Anyways, I sat here getting ready to post fun pictures of myself in my favorite outfits for winter after I was inspired by this quote by Kate Spade. “Playing dress-up begins at age five and never truly ends.” I have a playground right outside my apartment window and thought Bingo. I thought this would be fun and light and then out of nowhere a few nights back it hit me that there was a much deeper issue here to discuss. Shit.
I started to reflect on something that has bothered me my entire life. Why do people feel it is ok to comment on and confront someone with a disfiguring disability? (hate the word disfigured, we’ll get back to that). I would be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time a complete stranger has asked me a litany of questions ranging from “Did you get burned? to “what’s wrong with your hands? Or, my favorite, “does it hurt?” And not in the cute did it hurt when you fell from heaven pick up line way. No, the- I am a complete strange let me ask you about what looks to be very painful and personal. I think I get a lot of comments too because since my face is “normal” to most it looks like something just “happened” to my hands. No one knows, nor should they necessarily, that I have a complex severe illness that has left my entire body “disfigured”. How when I catch your eyes on me I instinctively pull my shirtsleeves down to cover my hands, or adjust the collar to make sure my neck hasn’t peeked out.
Body image must change for those with physical disabilities. Just as we wouldn’t (hopefully) go up to someone who is overweight and ask "What happened why are you so fat?” our bodies should also be respected and not viewed as a perverse curiosity.
Why does the term physical disfigurement even exist? If the media, celebrities, your local congregation all preach and espouse that there is not one type of body and we should all embrace however we may look, then why are physical disabilities put outside this chart? The ideal stating that there is no one size, shape, type and everyone is beautiful. Physical disabilities seem to be the asterisk on the bottom noting- except if you have an illness or other type of disability. If you have been burned or scarred, if your face has shifted from a stroke or brain bleed, if you walk differently or belabored, if you have lost a limb, or breasts, or an eye.
Each week, I want to continue to delve into an issue that I've honestly hid from for a long time. When I would hear snippets of arguments presented once in a blue moon about the dangers of all body types not being represented in the media, I never thought to stop and consider myself a part of this. Yet I now recognize the danger in not being seen and the shame demons that spring forth from the shadows. We as human beings are afraid of what we do not know. So I am not here to sit and blame the world and everyone else. I have to stop bitching and start leading by example.
So I will push myself and begin with not hiding my hands. This may seem so small to some but is one of my biggest hurdles. Body image issues span greater than just the world of "disability" though. Just as it may seem like a nightmare when I picture walking into a room with just a tank top on, another young woman "able bodied" may feel overweight or not good enough and have the same paralyzing fear. I want to create a space for all to be seen and celebrate one another. I know I’m tired of hiding. Are you?
*also I look fly and style is fun. It’s not that serious so let’s have some fun…
I so did not wake up like this...