I preach a lot about women's rights on here and a lot about the damaging pressure our society puts on women and their bodies. I share about it a lot because I've felt it myself. Not in huge ways, but in small, seeping ways that eek into my mind and trick me into thinking I'm only as valuable as the shape of my eyebrows or the clarity of my skin. Or that I couldn't possibly show up to a community event when my hair is a mess. Or go to that swimming party because someone might see my extra weight gain or how frizzy my hair gets after it's wet. That somehow I'm less worthy of regular human interaction just because my face isn't painted. Some pressures are subtle and some are not. Some days I am able to see through the lies and some days I don't. But I'm aware of it. I'm aware of the pressures that have been placed on me since birth and just knowing it, helps immeasurably.
Which is why what I'm going to share with you today is so important for you to hear. Because there is another damaging dialogue society is perpetuating and I didn't even see it until my daughter helped me catch a glimpse.
I hesitated to even post about all of this because I don't feel like I even fully grasp all of it or have enough awareness of my own "abled privilege" without saying something harmful or insensitive. But I've also come to learn that staying silent and ignoring the issue is almost worse than being ignorant to it. So I'm going to share and explain to the best of my, sorry for the pun, ability.
Also, there is an entire history of how I've come to discover this issue and perhaps on another day I'll share that journey with you. What it boils down to is that my discovery is in large part because of some very beautiful people who were put in my life and others who I intentionally put in my life. But more of that another time, here is what's important.
Our current culture demeans people with disabilities
Again, it's the small, underhanded tricks. Like the attitude that taking care of a person with a disability is a burden, or that they can't work, the lack of accessibility in many places, the fact that they are rarely represented on any public platform or media and if they are, it's usually because their bodies are "failing" them or need to be "fixed". Imagine growing up with the idea that you always need to be "fixed".
I have a really horrible analogy that hopefully you'll forgive me for but it came to me one day while I was wearing my "every now and then I fall apart" taco tee. Yes it involves tacos, obviously it's gold then right?
Anyway, here is the idea. What is a taco made of? There are obviously many variations of the taco but for the sake of this let's say it's meat, pico de gallo, lettuce, cheese and of course the shell. This is how we all expect tacos to be right? When we order a taco and that is what we are handed there are no questions asked. We have our taco and we are happy humans, ready to devour. That is society's accepted form of taco.
Well what if my taco order comes out with a broken shell? Is it still a taco? You want to say yes don't you? Because it is. It is still a taco. Just like a person with a disability is still a human. Yes, but there's more to it.
Yes it is still a taco, but the problem is we've just labeled it a "broken" taco, we may not ask for it to get replaced but we certainly understand that it does not have the same value as a regular, not broken taco.
So where am I going with this? What if instead of looking at it as a "broken" taco, or not a regular taco we look at it with different eyes. What if instead we realize that we've actually just discovered something entirely new. The taco salad. Nothing less, nothing more just a different way of eating the same exact ingredients?
I mean that's all Mexican food really is right? The same ingredients enjoyed countless ways?
Can we then jump to the conclusion that a person born with a differently abled body than the typical body isn't actually a "broken" person at all. That they don't need "fixing". Instead, we can see that they are just a new version of a body that is teaching us the same things in different, unique ways. Sure it may require adjustments like the addition of a fork, or maybe not. The point is we need to stop perpetuating the golden taco or golden body idea. We need to look with new eyes at each individual and welcome their glorious, different presentation and widen our definition of taco.
I don't know about you, but I think heaven on earth is a limitless taco bar.
Speaking of limbitless. Did you know that April is #limbdifferenceawarenessmonth? No? Neither did I until I had a daughter with a difference. As a way of celebrating these lovely differences I've created a "Limbitless" tee. Part of the proceeds will go to the Lucky Fin Project. A non-profit that advocates for those with limb differences.
Click the shirt to support them or follow along on Instagram @lucky_fin_project.
Or here are a list of other accounts I have found to be inspiring and that help me see things with a new perspective.
Rebekah Taussig a creative writing teacher on wheels @sitting_pretty Her words are beautiful and she has a gift for sharing her real experiences as a person with disabilities that usually leave me pondering them for days.
Amy Webb a mother to a wonderful family of girls, one who happens to have unique physical traits. @thislittlemiggy has been sharing stories of people with differences for years. She also recently published an adorable children's book, When Charley Met Emma, that teaches differences are ok.
Brittany Anne a new mom learning to navigate the world of motherhood as a relatively new walking paraplegic. Her Wheelchair Wednesdays @brittanyanne278 always impress me and give me a sense of respect for what it takes to adapt to a body's new, ever changing rules.