I have a sexy disabled body and I’m not afraid to use it!
What does a sexy disabled body look like?
Will people ever say ‘sexy disabled body‘ when describing a disabled person? Will they ever see ‘sexy disabled women’ in the media?
What is a ‘sexy' body? What is a 'sexy disabled body'? What is a 'sexy disabled woman'? What is a 'hot disabled woman'? Is it a slim one? A toned one? One with scars? One with missing limbs?
For centuries humans have worried about their appearance to greater and lesser degrees. The confidence that you have in yourself is (in part) derived from how you feel about your body.
When Henry VIII was knocking about, it was all about big girth back then because it showed wealth. Feel a tad sorry for all those destitute peasants, but unfortunately for them, a welfare system hadn’t quite been established.
But I will tell you this for nothing, the ‘body beautiful' has never been equated with a disabled body.
Back in the days of yore, peeps' lifespan was generally shorter, and even more so for those with illness and/or disability. Therefore those with illness and/or disabilities were most definitely fewer and further between than able-bodied and disease-free folk.
But with the great advancements in medicine and medical technology, especially in the last century, the tide has somewhat turned. More illnesses can be cured or at least treated, and there is more aid for people with disabilities, including life-saving operations that can allow you to poop in a bag, for example.
Disability is more visible in modern society, with people (like myself) taking advantage of being able to speak openly about it to a wider audience.
I believe it is incredibly positive that other disabled people and I can be more open and challenge the stigma attached to disability. However, the question still remains; will disabled people (or, in my case, a disabled woman) ever be seen as just as attractive and sexy as an able-bodied person, or is our society just not ready for our jelly?
I’m a disabled woman and sexy: self-love in the age of the selfie
Recently I was featured in the Metro, in an article talking about self-love and body confidence when you have a disability.
The article argued that disabled women mostly go unnoticed in the media, and I would have to agree.
How often do you come across disabled women or men, for that matter, modeling clothes, for example? Almost never! Unless you specifically go searching for sexy disabled women, sexy disabled men, sexy disabled people, or disabled models.
In a world where we are inundated with ideals of the ‘body beautiful,’ it is no wonder that anyone who doesn’t fit that ideal goes unnoticed – more than that – they go unrepresented.
Where are the sexy disabled women in the media?
So why does it matter if disabled women mostly go unnoticed in the media, and why do we care to fit into what has deemed the idea of perfection? Probably because we’re all just a tad narcissistic! Did you know Kim Kardashian takes over 300 selfies just to get the ‘perfect one’ to pop up on social media? Well, she does, and it’s lame.
Read more: Dating a disabled woman
If what we’re seeing with our eyeballs whenever we click on social media is a misrepresentation of the average human, it’s no wonder that the average human feels more than a little self-conscious. In her book Body Positive Power, Megan Jayne Crabbe cites that “only 5 percent of us naturally possess the body type that the media loves so much.” So add a disability into the mix, and you will likely feel somewhat lacking.
“I’m dead sexy… Look at my sexy disabled body”
Growing up with a disabled body
Growing up, my disability was more obvious than it is as an adult and I believe my early experiences impacted greatly on how I viewed my body.
Up until The Age of the Mitrofanoff (as I like to refer to it), I had an indwelling, urethral catheter that had to be on drainage all the time. This meant that I had the catheter attached to a drainage bag.
During the day, I would be attached to a ‘leg bag’ – a drainage bag I could strap to my leg, and at night I had an aptly named ‘night drainage bag,’ which basically had a long tube that went down to a bigger capacity bag – this meant I could pee to my heart’s content at night.
The ‘leg bag’ marked me out as a tad different. Up until about 13, I had to have the leg bag attached during the day, which meant I had to wear trousers.
I know what you’re thinking – ‘trousers? No, surely that’s the worst thing EVER!’ Your sarcastic response is right. Doesn’t sound like a big deal. However, when all the girls around you are wearing skirts (back in the sexist 80s and 90s, it seemed to be mandatory to have all the girls wear skirts at school), being a girl and wearing trousers to school marked you out as different.
I was immediately a weirdo to all the young eyes that looked at me at school. To add insult to injury, the school had a fab summer uniform that consisted of light blue, gingham skirts – so my mum made me gingham trousers, which was a very thoughtful thing for her to do. Still, I looked at them, felt different again, and stewed over my disability. In fact, I hated my disability.
My disabled body made me different
I went through school being marked out as different. As the word on the grapevine filtered down, most of the children at school knew I had a disability and some knew exactly what that disability was (or at least had an idea).
This idea wasn’t subdued by the fact that as the day went on, the leg bag would fill up with pee, so the bag would expand, and therefore my left calf looked like it was expanding.
My mum would come and empty the pee and poop bags every lunchtime at primary school, which was yet another routine that outed my disability to the kiddie population. Kids teasing me about my disability was my reality. I was also bullied during my time at school, which assisted in adding to my lack of self-confidence, and I blamed my disability for the fact I was bullied.
I was the 'disabled girl' who peed herself school
There were times (and thankfully few and far between) that the leg bag would leak. Yes. Pee would come out of the bag and leak out on my trousers and down my leg.
I remember an occasion when this happened. I was in the playground, sitting on the playground floor on a hot summer’s day. We were all lining up to be led into class, but for some reason, all the children were sitting on the ground before going into class. The girl in front of me had turned around, and we were chatting, and then she pointed to the ground in front of me and said, 'the disabled girl peed herself.' I lowered my eyes to where she was pointing, and low and behold, a puddle of piss was forming.
I don’t remember how I dealt with it. I would have had to get up and tell a teacher in order to be led to the nurse’s office, but I’ve blanked whatever happened after the puddle and the girl’s accusatory finger and comments.
These experiences growing up as a disabled girl impacted my confidence greatly. The lack of confidence I felt as a child followed me into my teens and into adulthood. My confidence directly affected the way I felt towards my body. Hasten to add, for many years, and even now to a certain extent, I could not equate my body with something that was in any way desirable.
“We’re all just sexy humans trying to get on in the world and whether you feel your disability marks you out as different or not, remember how awesome your body is – it’s got you this far after all”
I’m a sexy disabled woman … Look at my sexy disabled body
Oh to have Fat Bastard’s self-confidence from the Austin Powers series! I can’t say I have ever got to a point where I can say with total and utter surety that I am comfortable in my own skin, but I’m working on loving my broken body.
Growing up, especially in my teens and early twenties, I was jealous of able-bodied people. People without a poop bag attached to their bodies, without the need to worry where the nearest loo is in case anything starts leaking.
I was jealous that I couldn’t wear bikinis, crop tops, etc., not so much that I specifically wanted to wear these, but I wanted the option. I used to covet my friends with what I would call ‘perfect bodies.’ My best friend has a midriff that is to die for, and I have felt a bit pervy staring at it when she has worn crop tops. She didn’t know what cellulite was either, which was just adding insult to injury!
Having started to write about my disability and following other bloggers in the illness and disability blogging niche, I have grown more confident in myself. No longer do I look at my body and think, ‘if only I were normal.’ Because what is ‘normal’? And more importantly, by putting myself out there and talking about my illness and disability, I value my body a lot more than I used to.
Through writing a blog, I have come across some awesome people who are not afraid to show their bodies off, like Sam from sobadass.me and Rachel from rocking2stomas, but to name a couple. By putting yourself out there and showing your body, disability, and all, I believe that it is making disability more mainstream and not something that should be hidden away. These bloggers have certainly made me more confident about my own body.
I also have an amazing husband who finds me desirable not despite my disabilities; he just doesn’t give a shit – he doesn’t see the disability; he sees the person.
No matter how you may or may not be feeling on the inside about your disability. Whether you feel confident enough to show off your disability or even if you want to keep it hidden, it is a part of you that is unlikely to change.
How to be confident with a disability
As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized I have wasted so much time wanting to be different. Wanting to be ‘normal.’ I will never be that, and I have come to the conclusion I don’t want to be the idea of ‘the body beautiful.’
My disabilities made me who I am to a large extent, and (not to blow my own trumpet) I am pretty darn awesome (or at least I’m not a total idiot!)
With more visibility of disabled people in the media and a growing understanding that not every disability is visible (which is already happening, though I feel more can be done), perhaps people will start to see the human rather than the disability.
Lucy Martin is an example of someone with a disability who has a job in front of the camera. Lucy’s right arm ends at the elbow, and she also presents the weather on the BBC.
In the main, the response to seeing Lucy on TV was positive, with many people happy to see disability being represented more overtly in the media. Lucy’s visibility has also given confidence to disabled people similar to her and disabled people in general.
Certainly, there have been some close-minded douchebags who found it offensive and outrageous to see a disabled journalist presenting the news on their screens, but thankfully these people are few and far between.
This is just one example that goes to prove that having a visible disability in the media is not an issue. In fact, it is a positive thing.
Disability or no disability, we are all human and should be allowed to be who we are with no apologies – unless you are Hitler or Pol Pot that is… in which case, many apologies are required from them.
We’re all just sexy humans trying to get on in the world and whether you feel your disability marks you out as different or not, remember how awesome your body is – it’s got you this far, after all.
I’m a disabled woman and sexy: my awesome body got me this far
Kate Jennings, author of "I have a sexy disabled body, and I’m not afraid to use it!" always thought she was a writer but didn’t believe it until her kidneys failed and showed her they don’t always have it in for her… kinda.