This is my internalised ableism showing.
The first pic I’m standing with one leg up and resting behind me, to avoid having blood spots on my stockings in frame.
Even though Sunday was great, my friends are the best and my outfit was fucking fabulous.
The second photo is an up close photo of my legs – a yellow, teal and purple check dress and teal stockings, plus purple boots. Two small blood spots are on my leg.
Probably hurt my leg on a bag of shopping. My skin is that fragile
Disabled and chronically ill people sometimes get embarrassed about the visibility of symptoms.
For me, it’s the skin and ointment I leave behind – on seats, surfaces, my clothes, other people…
I grew up with shame about my residue. Was discouraged from hugging people and touching things. I’d get them oily, leave skin behind.
It still happens, sometimes. Just like the being told not to have children thing I was tweeting about earlier in the week.
I worried about the ointment imprint I left on my friend’s couch today.
Today those spots of blood on my legs weren’t a problem to anyone but me. Nor was my bum print.
But because of shame, because of the low expectations of disabled people, the gross-out and ridicule factor of shedding skin, smeared ointment, the expectation that presenting neatly and put together suggests you’re not a failure in life and other elements of disability left behind, I wanted to hide those spots of blood.
This is a topic I want to explore more. Especially the time I got asked if I could use a separate toilet to my colleagues due to my skin flakes on the toilet floor.
And about the time I was discouraged from riding in extended family’s car. One day I will get the courage to write.
Anyway, we shouldn’t be feeling self conscious about disability traits we cannot control. But shame and embarrassment is hard to shake when it’s ingrained.
I want to reiterate – even with a strong sense of disability pride, we can still have internalised ableism.
Sending love and solidarity to all the disabled and chronically ill people out there who are embarrassed about what our bodies do naturally, embarrassed by the things we leave behind. I see you, I love you.
Has this post helped you think about disability and ableism? Will you use it in your work? Please consider buying me a drink!