When you hear the buzzwords “body shame” or “body positivity,” it’s common to think those phrases only apply to those who have a little extra junk in the trunk, but a huge demographic is excluded the conversation when it takes that cliché Christina Aguilera “We are Beautiful” turn.
As a woman with a physical disability, I am usually glaringly aware of how my body is the polar opposite of what is deemed the norm. I have had to answer, “What is that scar from?” from strangers seconds into an initial conversation, and have seen the words “anomaly” and “deformity” scribbled all over my medical chart.
It’s a weird feeling to feel such a huge disconnect from your body. I’ve never been diagnosed with a thick skin, but it has definitely been helpful in my circuitous path to self-acceptance.
But how did I get to this place where I can say, “This is me. Deal with it!”?
Well, first of all, let’s be clear: it’s unrealistic to expect that anyone can be a bastion of confidence every single day. The portrayals of disability you see in the media are rare, and when they exist, the portrayal is often tanned and athleticised and toned down considerably from the reality.
I don’t often see myself out there, so I have just accepted myself as is. I was born with a disease called congenital muscular dystrophy, and over the years, I have come to terms with the fact that when I look in the mirror or at pictures of myself, I’m not going to be 100 per cent in love with it all.