I then went to The Gimp Parade and decided I was thinking about this the wrong way. Blue offers a characteristically sensible discussion of this, links to the excellent As The Tumour Turns and offers her own answers. Which in turn has inspired Mark Siegel, who hit the nail on the head;
Those of us with physical disabilities have a tendency to internalize some pretty negative messages from society regarding our appearance. We learn to regard our bodies as freakish, deformed, or simply embarrassing. The concepts of disability and beauty rarely intersect in our popular imagination.Indeed. It is a similar mechanism with non-disabled women of course, who are often programmed with ideas of perfection to which they cannot possibly measure up to - not because they have any impairment, but just because they are human beings as opposed to architypes. But we all have things about our bodies which are attractive or otherwise enjoyable. We are none of us so elevated that we don't live in the physical world or lack appreciation for physical things.
As you can tell, brain fog and a tendency to think too hard aren't doing me many favours this week.
So here's mine, all physical stuff:
I could only think of five, but I'm quite chuffed with my own immodesty given the week I've had.
- I like my hands. Mostly because they are extremely useful, they type and write very quickly, they can do all sorts of weird and wonderful things. And they also look pretty good; they are slender but padded enough not be bony. My fingers are long and I manage to keep my nails in good nick, usually varnished in a rare display of vanity.
- I like the fact that, in my opinion, I can carry some extra weight without it showing as much as I might. This would be on account of my height and my bizarre shape, which means that even when I was properly obese, I still went in in the middle.
- I like the fact that I can walk. It is certainly overrated in the wider world, but it is a massive advantage. Just now (excluding this week) as I’m gradually able to stand up for longer and walk a bit further, I am bursting with gratitude that I have this potential.
- I like the fact that although I’m struggling to find things which I particularly like about my appearance, there is nothing about my appearance which I consider an ongoing source of misery. Which is nothing to do with the way I look, just the fact that I know it doesn’t matter that much.
- I like my capacity for pleasure. I have an entirely amateurish theory that illness and particularly chronic pain may actually increase a person’s capacity for physical pleasure. If you feel okay most of the time, then you’re only a few notches below feeling good. Whereas when you’re sick and in pain, feeling good is a far more significant improvement. The most obvious example being orgasm; orgasm kills pain, but if you weren’t in any pain to begin with, that’s not going to be all that spectacular. Hmm, perhaps I am at risk of starting the new fetish of stubbing one’s toe directly before making love… Anyway, I do feel that I get far more pleasure from food and music and all those kinds of things much more than a lot of people.