As simple as this may seem, most of us women, but especially those of us with disabilities will easily forget or be unaware of this simple rule . I have, so many times, seen physically attractive people who do not come across as such because that is not how they see themselves, and it is their inner being what is being projected outwardly. I suppose this truly proves that inner beauty is the real beauty and the one that really matters. However, I know it is so easy to fall for the unrealistic able-bodied expectations of beauty standards that are drilled into our common understanding of what we should look like, feel like, and be like. This, of course, ties in directly to the self-love thing which I always bring up as the foundation of a positive self-esteem and body image. How can we see ourselves as “beautiful” unless we love who we are inside?
Happiness is a strange thing. We all seem to chase it, and do so without even realizing that most of the time we will not find it outside ourselves. While some factors will contribute to our ability to feel beautiful or attractive, learning how to be happy with our personal gifts, is, perhaps, one of the secrets to projecting beauty. Beauty is not so much about being thin, or being tall, or being able-bodied. I think it is more about being comfortable with ourselves. It is about being good to ourselves and to our bodies, and about sharing the uniqueness of who we are from a platform of empowerment. We have so many wonderful things to offer, but can only do it when we recognize and embrace them as part of our personal gifts.
Once others see who we are from the inside out, our physical differences become secondary. I have worked with women with disabilities who are afraid of being stared at. I guess all of us disabled folks go through some aspect of this at some point in our experience. For me, the stares came early in my youth I guess because I grew up with a disability. The memory of it is still vivid…especially when people would follow me with their eyes and stare me down until I felt like I wanted to hide under a rock. It is never a nice feeling, and unless we have the self-esteem and confidence to deal with it, chances are the experience will be painfully uncomfortable. It has been a while since I wanted to hide under a rock. I guess some people still stare at times, but I barely notice it perhaps because I have grown so confident and comfortable with myself that if people stare at me now, I just flirt with them assuming they stare because I’m projecting energy of empowerment and sensuality.
Dealing with being stared at is something every person with a disability will handle differently. It is common to feel the stares everywhere you go when first becoming disabled. The lesson about others seeing us how we see ourselves often comes directly from us having to deal with this experience. Whether people stare at us or not, we will feel stared at if we are not comfortable with ourselves. We feel others are constantly focusing on our differences when WE are constantly focusing on them. The minute we begin to positively change the way we see ourselves, people will also begin to see us differently.
Although our physical differences will still be there, when we focus on our own natural beauty and accept ourselves, others will simply know it.