Every time I walk out the door people stare at my body in a negative context. I have what I guess they call a “non-normative body” I was born with a physical disability called Cerebral Palsy. When people look at me all they see a girl with canes, to them my body appears “Non-normal” but I would say its strongly mismatched with my identity. I have never truly felt limited by my disablility or that I walk with canes. My Disability has never defined me I’ve defined my own normal. I may have to use canes but my soul and mind are not disabled. I’ve never had insecurity when it comes to being a person that has Cerebral Palsy, I have had insecurities with things that go with this such as: that my arms seem so big compared to the rest of my body for carrying my body weight for 29 years, or that my hands are covered in callouses from using canes. I mean this is what comes with having a disabled body right? What can I do to fix it?
I wasn’t sure how to fix those things but what I was sure was that I could prove myself and show that my body isn’t the limit of what I can do! Inside this body was a lust for all things great in this world, great conversation, great friends and great adventures. I would use my energy to focus on the good that I can do then the negativity that usually comes with how I am viewed. I have been in Mosh Pits at Rock concerts, worked on movie sets, and just signed up to run a 5k! There is nothing I can’t do! I’ve taught middle school kids and started my own business.
I’ve had a lot of negativity thrown my way with my body from society, peers, and relationships that has caused me to not think that a disabled body can be beautiful. Instead of thinking of my own thoughts of my body I spent most time fighting what society perceives of me more. We live in a superficial world where people are judge based on whats on the outside. Well when they see me they think I’m not smart, or that I can’t do things, Illness repulses and people don’t want a part of that. So I’ve spend more time saying "hey my mind and soul are beautiful" and while that is the most important by far you know what my body is beautiful too!
People have often told me I was beautiful but I thought it was because they felt sorry for me because of my disability. My friends and family said it to me often but I never gave it much thought. I know that I am beautiful on the inside and thats truly all that ever mattered to me. I never looked in the mirror and thought “yeah I’m beautiful.”
Which is funny because I think it is essential that we create a world where people feel okay in their bodies, express themselves through their bodies, and feel comfortable navigating this world in their body, I support health at every size yet I go around covering up my own tummy and arms. I loved the beach but I was so scared to show off so much you would never see me in a swimsuit. (look at me now! yay!)
I am just now learning what it means to inhabit my body. It wasn’t until I could see myself through a guy I had a relationship with that I started to see the things he loved and didn’t understand about my body, soul, and mind that it got me thinking about them as well. Having him call me beautiful causes me to now look in the mirror saying he was right I am beautiful. Him not understanding my body and ultimately ending things has made me become more in tune with who I am as a whole package. I’ve often felt insecure that I had tummy and tried to do things about it but when I started to explore yoga and work out I realized “I have no core muscle due to my Cerebral Palsy!” but that doesn’t mean I can’t work to have it!
Having a person show me that all of me is indeed beautiful makes it easier for me to navigate the tumultuous world we live in. My only hope is to now do that for someone else. It doesn’t happen right away. Do things that make you feel good. Try a new beauty thing, take some fun photos. Have insecurities with a part of your body? Show it off more! Don’t give it the power! One day I will lose all my insecurities and today is a step in that, next the end of all of insecurities!!