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Let's Talk About Body Privilege and Disability

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I had a somber thought this morning about disability…

How does disability color our view of the world, security and life?

Over the weekend, my daughter and I went to visit my dad, while my neighbor shopped at my stepmom’s store. My daughter and Dad were spying on me from the security camera.

“You know, Mom,” the teenager said, “Your cerebral palsy is a lot more noticeable on video. Because when you look at you when you are together, it’s just that you walk a little funky. But looking from the camera it’s obvious that bodies shouldn’t do that.”

My initial thought was a relief because I thought everyone saw me as I appear on video. I have only seen myself walk on video. It’s the whole reason I refused to allow anyone to video my wedding. And smartphones weren’t a thing back then.

So today — while pondering recent stresses in my life — I had a somber thought.

Does disability teach you to rely on others and therefore make it easier to ask for help?

That’s how I see my friend, Nan. She’s been blind since birth. She never had children. She’s outlived her whole family. Yet, she has this amazing network of friends who are also helpers. And we all love her sense of humor, her adventurous spirit and of course her practical approach to everything.

But for me, disability has intensified my insecurities to the point where I think no one, and nothing, is reliable. I know there are a lot of other factors that contribute to that in my mind, but I wonder if my disability “tightens the screws.”

I can’t rely on my body. Will it be an easy walking day? Will I trip and fall? Will my S1 joint protest? Will aches and pains plague me? (Or will my allergies act up, as if I don’t have enough health issues?)

Embracing my identity as a woman with cerebral palsy and accepting my limits, talking about how I am different and my challenges — this is all new to me.

But I want to make people think.

I want people to consider how we are all different.

I want people to appreciate what a privilege a conventionally working body is. Yes, I’m suggesting that “body privilege” is a “thing.”

A banner promoting The Mighty's new Our CP Journey group on The Mighty mobile app. Click to join.

Getty image by Elena Odareeva.

Originally published: July 15, 2020
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