Making Peace with my Body

CN: This Post includes mentions of assault, drug use, and body image issues

On May 14th, I finally managed to get my first tattoo. Ever since I was a kid, I had an obsession with drawing pictures on myself. Whenever I was able, I would get henna tattoos of various sorts. I loved the idea of wearing art on my own skin.

Growing up, my parents would appreciate the art, but still disapprove of the whole concept of tattoos. They believed them to be irresponsible, silly, and a waste of money. They made the jokes that have become a social trope, about the hilarity of aged skin and what those tattoos would look like on a senior. It’s not uncommon to hear boomers of all sorts complaining about them and about the people who get them.

Until I was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis and lost major functionality in my legs, I expected to grow up to be a doctor. If not that, I at least expected to be a professional of some sort. I knew that I would be doing myself if I got a tattoo somewhere visible, and so I made myself a deal: I wouldn’t get a tattoo until I turned 25. If I still wanted it by that point, then it was something I truly wanted and could find a way to make it happen.

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Making Peace with my Body
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Dismissed By People like You

CN Spoilers for Grace and Frankie, NSFW, Discussions of Sex, Consent, Mentions of Rape

Note: The bottom quote does not include some of the text, but has been edited down to contain the relevant parts of the discussion.

Grace: What are we doing? I’ll tell you what we’re doing. We’re We’re making vibrators for women with arthritis.

Frankie: Yes! Vibrators! Brilliant!

Grace: Oh, grow up. Older women masturbate too.

Frankie: And we have vaginas.

Brianna:  I highly doubt there’s a vibrator market for geriatric women with arthritis.

Grace: There is. I’m in agony.

Frankie: It takes a lot longer for us to get off, Sol.

Grace: She’s right. Our blood doesn’t flow as easily – and our genital tissue is more delicate. I did some reading. The more effort it takes to orgasm, the more you irritate it, and the more it inflames your arthritis. And I mean shouldn’t older women have it better than that?

Mallory: How do I explain to my children that their grandma makes sex toys for other grandmas?

Grace: I’ll tell you what you can tell them, honey. We’re making things for people like us, because we are sick and tired of being dismissed by people like you.

So ends the second season of Grace and Frankie. The line “We’re making things for people like us, because we are sick and tired of being dismissed by people like you.” Seems to me like a perfect summary of the first two seasons of Grace and Frankie. Nominally the show is about two older women relearning how to live on their own after their husbands leave them for each other.

More than that, the show is about two older women realizing the extent to which they have been taken for granted, and the extent to which women past a certain age get treated as invisible and irrelevant. The level to which women’s identities are subsumed into that of their families and especially their husbands.

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Dismissed By People like You

Intersections within Intersections Part 2 of 2

Part One Here … 

This is a fairly long post, so I split it into two parts. I ask however, that you not respond to either of them unless you have read both. There are nuances to both parts that I think are pretty essential to one another. Because this is dealing with some heavy and possibly delicate areas of theory, I’m pretty terrified of some of it being lost. 

I’ve run into similar arguments before at different times, being told that black people cannot be ableist. At the time I believed, and still do, that the statement is completely false. Not only is claiming that black people are not influenced in the same way by social prejudice as everyone else seems to me like a form of benevolent racism which is still harmful, but it is especially damaging to disabled black people. By that logic, a disabled black person who has to struggle with ableism in her community and in her family would be told that her experiences are not real.

It can be tempting to excuse a black person’s ableism towards a white person given the history of racism, but even with the racial power dynamics at play, ableism hurts black people too. A person who feels comfortable insulting someone on the basis of disability because they are white, is unlikely to treat disabled people of their own race any better. The ableism will inform their actions towards other disabled people, and even when it doesn’t, the ableism they display at disabled white people, will cause splash damaged to disabled black people.

However, in having the discussion, it is important for me to be aware of my own privilege.

I commented to a friend recently, that in these discussions the framing is always a white woman talking to a black woman, but why can’t it ever be framed as a disabled woman talking to an abled woman. This was, after all, a discussion about ableism and I was speaking as someone affected by it.

The answer of course is because it is always both.

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Intersections within Intersections Part 2 of 2

Intersections Within Intersections Part 1 of 2

This is a fairly long post, so I split it into two parts. I ask however, that you not respond to either of them unless you have read both. There are nuances to both parts that I think are pretty essential to one another. Because this is dealing with some heavy and possibly delicate areas of theory, I’m pretty terrified of some of it being lost. 

Earlier, I participated in a bait thread on a friend’s wall that made the statement: All men who do not stop street harassment, are complicit in it. Many of us came onto the thread to agree with this statement, until someone jumped in to accuse all of us of being racist. The argument was that it is not always safe for certain men to speak up in certain circumstances. I agreed that this was true, but argues that that didn’t change their complicity. The responder then accused me of having said that all men are culpable always.

I will concede that perhaps a clarification could have been added specifying that this was referring specifically to gendered street harassment, and not other forms of hate speech that may get thrown about on the streets. While all forms of harassment on the street are bad and should be talked about, there is something unique about gendered harassment in that many people are not convinced it is a bad thing. Many respond to concerns about it saying that “It’s meant as a compliment. I wish people would yell nice things at me walking down the street.” (For the purposes of this post, when I refer to street harassment, I am specifically taking about this gendered type and not all forms of hate speech spoken on the street. )

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Intersections Within Intersections Part 1 of 2

Thank You

[The wheelchair I’ve been using was a donation from the family of a woman who passed away recently. Although they could have chosen to sell the chair, or do something else with it, instead they donated it and made it possible for me to get one. I wanted to write them a note thanking them for their donation. I’ve edited out the name for the sake of their privacy, and using a stand in name in one place. Friends who read the letter suggested I post it on here for others to see and maybe help encourage other people to be generous with their inherited accessibility devices.] 

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Thank You

This Chair Gives me Wings

Yesterday, for the first time in I don’t know how many years, I was able to experience nature that wasn’t immediately adjacent to a parking lot. I got to watch the sun setting gently as I made my way along the river and feel the wind in my face.

I can’t remember the last time I was able to spend that much time outdoors without being overwhelmed by pain.

Did I find some new magic med? Did I manage to reduce my symptoms?

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This Chair Gives me Wings

The Anxiety of Many Faces

I am terrified of appropriation.

I don’t mean that in the sense of say using AAVE, although there is an element of that. I don’t mean that I’m scared to be called a hipster or a fake whatever. I’m not even scared of claiming my own at times, when I need to.

I am scared that my identities, who I am, the ways I define myself, are costumes. Illusions so clever, so complete, that I managed to fool myself as well as others with them.

I’ve mentioned this before when discussing my own gender feels. Life hasn’t stood still long enough for me to really examine my feelings further regarding that aspect of things. I’m lucky enough to have surrounded myself with a community who will support me no matter what my ultimate gender identity ends up being and if feel the need to do a thorough examination sooner rather than later, so for now I can wait. Or is this just the excuse I tell myself as I avoid my fear of taking on a label, an identity, until I am completely sure that it belongs to me.

To my knowledge, I’ve never taken on an identity that didn’t belong to me.

I’ve been curious about my past heritage, but I don’t think it entitles me to claiming those cultural identities and is rather an interest in knowing my history. I discovered my ADHD before diagnosis, but even if I was able to fool the doctors and the tests, I can’t fake my reaction to the meds.  There are enough people among my friend-list who would think nothing of tearing me to shreds, were I in the wrong, to act as a safeguard. I know all this.

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The Anxiety of Many Faces

PSA: Don’t Touch Accessibility Devices

Accessibility Devices are, for all intents and purposes, a part of our bodies and should be treated as such.

DO NOT touch an accessibility device WITHOUT CONSENT. In case this is not clear, I mean the consent of the disabled person.

Do not touch a wheelchair without the consent of the person in it.

Do not touch a walker or a cane without the consent of the person using it.

Do not move a walker or cane out of the way, even if the person isn’t using it right now.

Do not push a wheelchair without consent, even if you are just trying to help. Even if you just want to make it easier for them to get up a hill.

Do not put a cane where the person who needs it can’t reach it. It is not funny.

Do not take a person’s prosthetic. It is not funny.

Do not push a person’s wheelchair out of your way, or to make them go faster. If you wouldn’t shove someone out of the way, then consider pushing someone in a chair as the equivalent.

Do not take a person’s hearing aid. It is not funny.

Do not try to make a person’s hearing aid produce feedback.

Do not push someone wearing a hearing aid into a pool, or spray them with water.

Do not touch a service dog. Doesn’t matter how cute it is. Doesn’t matter how small it is. If the dog is wearing his vest or currently working, DO NOT TOUCH THE DOG. (Or Any Other Service Animal)

Do not talk or stare at a service dog – dogs are social and if they are paying attention to you they are not paying attention to their job. They’re trained, but they’re still animals who CAN get distracted.

 Do not put a walker or a cane somewhere else, even if it is not currently being used.

DO NOT try to help by lifting their walker or the person themselves unless asked. If you offer, respect their no.

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PSA: Don’t Touch Accessibility Devices

Disability Misery

I’m multiply disabled, by whichever model you use. I am on disability assistance and I live in Canada where I even have access to healthcare. Given all this, you might think that the fact that I still have disability related depression, that I am proof that disability really is misery. That the medical model is right.

I want to make this really easy to understand.

I’m not miserable because I’m in pain.

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Disability Misery

Lessons from a Failed Bodyform

As a result of all the different things going on with my body, not to mention our financial situation, finding clothes for me to wear can be really difficult. For some time now, I’ve been strongly considering starting to make my own clothes. In order to do a better job of this, I’ve been wanting to make a bodyform out of my own body shape.

I’ve been looking up different ways of creating one. There are tons of ideas out there, including ones using plaster, duct tape, insulation form, all sorts of ideas. I decided to combine all of these different ideas in the hopes of creating something fantastic.

At the same time as doing mine, I decided to also make one for Alyssa. For all that people give her lots of clothes, there are some pieces that she has always wanted but couldn’t afford. I thought it would be fun to also have a form of her shape, so that I could potentially make them for her.

I decided to start with hers, and while I suspected this might be the case for some time not, I finally had to admit defeat. Her bodyform was a disaster. First we ran out of tape. Then the foam wouldn’t set. Then the top foam sank into the foam that wouldn’t set. Then the whole thing ended up very tilted. Finally, the plaster would not stop crumbling and the whole thing finally fell apart today resulting in a dusty and crumbly mess.

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Lessons from a Failed Bodyform