Natalie E. Illum, Guest Writer, The Body Is Not An Apology - April 28, 2014
This is another great article on the very tricky, hard to explain, but absolutely crucial issue of disabled people learning to recognize and then shed shame about our bodies.
Don’t let the art world and poetry slam setting of the essay distract you. You don’t have to be a poet or a performance artist to grapple with the same issues Natalie Illum did, or to make the progress she has. One part of her story that I think might be essential, though, is having a friend or even just a casual acquaintance ask the right question or say the right thing at the right moment that helps penetrate the walls we build up around us and get to the kernel of the issue. Do we love, do we accept, do we have any positive feelings at all about our bodies, or not?
For most of my life, I assumed that it was enough to appreciate my own mind, and sort of forget about my body. Now I’m not so sure that’s a choice you have to make, just because you have physical disabilities. It may not even be a sustainable choice. Fortunately, it seems like one of the few things you can change about yourself, without needing other people to change as well. You can just start appreciating your body as it is, and having some fun with it’s unusual shapes and angles. That positivity can often rub off on others, and they in turn will be more positive about your appearance. But even if they don’t, it doesn’t really matter because you made the key change in your own head.