The Ugly Beautiful and Other Failings of Disability Representation
Those who spend their lives in bodies others deem unworthy grow accustomed to building our own self-worth.
It is deeply troubling for able-bodied people to learn that we find beauty and pride in ourselves, not in how we can most align with what nondisabled people think human bodies and minds should look like.
Often, though, this kind of reclamation is associated specifically with glamour and conventional beauty; Lauren Wasser, the model with the golden legs, or Mama Cax, a fierce Haitian model with cheekbones that could cut glass and a collection of stunning, bold prosthetic limbs, often in bright patterns and colors, sometimes minimalist and fierce, other times elaborate and lacy. Any one of them costs more than most amputees can afford.
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Disability ruins everything, these stories tell us: disability itself is tragedy. These people’s lives are over, apparently, even though they are palpably still here.
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I want to surround myself with people who argue with me, for I learn so much more from these conversations.
You will remember, in fact, the first doctor who does ask, who says ‘is it okay if I put my hands here,’ gesturing, waiting for you to say ‘yes.’