My friend Nicola made a Youtube video about disability and beauty. She asked for vlogging ideas and I wanted to know what her relationship to beauty was like, when considering her disability and not. She made a vlog and said that she used to believe that people wouldn’t find her attractive because of her disability, but she felt better about herself once she surrounded herself with friends who didn’t see her disability as an issue. She became more confident and happier in herself. That in itself is the most beautiful thing in anyone: self-confidence and intrinsic happiness.
I grew up believing that I was ugly and I was called ugly all the time. I have been called gimpy, ugly, and disgusting since I was very little. If anyone finds me attractive and tells me so, I instantly push back and say, ‘No I’m not,’ as though they have slapped me in the face. I can never take the compliment because I don’t believe it, and I believe that they are only saying it to make me feel better or buck me up.
A couple of nights ago, someone called me unattractive in a roundabout way. I tried to tell myself that his response to my looks said something about him and not me, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt. It’s also why I reject anyone’s compliments about my physical self: I am so used to hearing that I’m ugly that I think anyone who says otherwise is lying.
I had two very tough yoga classes this morning. I cried through both of them. The first did nothing to ease my pain and discomfort and I just felt broken and defeated. The second was a little better; my teacher asked us to set an intention for the practice, then added, ‘Your intention is why you’re on your mat.’ My intention is to get better. The truth is that I would still feel ugly even if I could completely overcome my disability and walk out of it tomorrow. I would still feel ugly and people would still think I was ugly.
Disability does not equal ugliness. I just think I would still feel ugly even if I weren’t disabled. Even if I had grown up an able-bodied person, I would still consider myself an ugly person and other people would consider me ugly. It’s actually why I have never made the jump to YouTube and vlogged about my disability or my life. I am too afraid of the criticism about how I look. I am too afraid of comments about my body and of people calling me ugly.
I don’t know what it will take for me to consistently consider myself an attractive person. I think I just need to make some peace with what I look like and build strength in the other parts of me, the parts that I like. I think the rest will flow from there.