Body Image

We all know that having a physical disability usually eliminates people entirely from acheiving the rigid standard of physical beauty enforced within western culture. Whether it is because the disabled are neatly segregated in schooling and living arrangements away from the average joes of society, or simply because people don’t know how to react to seeing a new image of the body, it’s highly likely that certain assumptions are made about the utility and beauty and of the body of a disabled person. What we as disabled people must keep in mind is that just because society says certain things does not mean that those things are the actual ultimate truth. We must learn to combat the bad feelings instilled in us by the judgements others make about our bodies. But most of all we must realize and remember that able-bodied or “normal” people experience many of the same anxieties as we do and often experience different, or more, pressure to conform. Consider the links below, all dealing with testimony and statistics regarding body image as it effects the average person.

Read this discussion on Scarleteen for proof that everyone has body image insecurities, even if they’re “perfectly able-bodied.”

Why do we look in the mirror?: Another article dealing with body image aimed toward able-bodied people with lots of useful and unexpected statistics.

Pick A Fold and Fuck It: On Acknowledging Physical Desirability: This article is aimed toward overweight people but addresses many of the issues we face as disabled people in coming to terms with our bodies and sexuality. Reading this, I could have simply replaced certain words and the article might have been talking about me!

Sexual Attractiveness and Disability: A very detailed and interesting article on how physical disability can effect sexual attractiveness and how our own attitudes can influence this.

Body Beautiful/Body Perfect: Challenging the Status Quo. Where Do Women With Disabilities Fit In?: at “Disability Cool.” A fairly comprehensive article addressing issues for women with disabilities and body image.

Disability, Media and Body Image
This article is short, to the point, and includes some clips and examples of people with disabilities in the media, along with addressing the typical stereotypes played on when we are sighted in the media. Very interesting and well-researched.

Our Bodies Ourselves: Exerpt, Chapter 1: Body Image
This is a fairly long exerpt which covers many aspects of body image, including disability.

Image, Sex and Disability
This article is a very good one which discusses a lot of the fears and insecurities which can come up for people who have disabilities in relation to their body image and how they can be dealt with.

Body Image and the Lower Limb Amputee
This article is very long and rather academic but VERY well-researched.

Body Image: Acceptance is Step 1
Another, less academically-oriented, article for amputees on body image.

Body Image and Multiple Sclerosis
This article is geared toward people with MS but may be helpful for anyone who has an acquired disability.

Body Image Articles from Bella Online
This page contains very good articles on body image, some of which are specifically geared toward the disabled. I am linking to the main page because it is impossible to link to individual articles via some web code that they have there… so go ahead and explore this section of their site yourself. (Sorry, I made an attempt.) smile