Body image and disability is complex and counterintuitive
This week Peta explores the relationship of how she views her body. How does never being able to have the ‘ideal’ body affect how she views herself? How would you deal with others who have the ability to have that 'ideal' body, the body that your disability stops you from ever having?
Peta [00:00:03] Hello and welcome to The I Can't Stand Podcast, the podcast, answering your questions on what life is like when you have a disability. Any question is on the table, no question is off-limits. My name is Peta and I'm your host on this podcast.
Peta [00:00:19] This week, I'm going to be talking to you about body image and disability. This is a question I wish got asked more often. I don't feel like people talk about body image when you have a disability. So I'm going to be talking about everything from how I view my body, to if I think it's well represented in the media and how I fit in when the perfect body that society is given to us will never happen. So let's go.
Peta [00:00:55] Can I ask you a personal question? How do you feel about your body? I always just assumed my perspective of my body is how most females perceive their bodies, but as I go along in life, I've realised this isn't the case. Now, I know you're probably thinking, well, duh, Peta, you're in a wheelchair. Of course, you feel differently about your body, probably a lot more negatively than I do.
Peta [00:01:26] Now, I'm not saying that I'm some sort of miracle female that doesn't feel anything negative about their body. Quite the contrary. But I think starting with the knowledge of when you're a kid, knowing that your body can't do something that everybody else is seemingly can, you do view it very differently than other people view their own.
Peta [00:01:48] When I look at how the media presents what a perfect female body should be, it is someone fit, healthy and lean. Someone who wears activewear, to actually be active in. Not just to have lattes.
Peta [00:02:07] So clearly, I'm never going to have that perfect body, I can't go for a run around the tan or go for a run around the harbour. I'm definitely not fit, I'm definitely not lean. I'm definitely not perceived as healthy. Even when I look at the so-called empowering images on Instagram, where someone like Ashley Graham shows off her stretch marks, it doesn't seem to reach me. I don't feel impacted by it at all. I think that's because her body doesn't look like my body either, even with matching stretch marks. Her body can stand, run and walk. Mine can't.
Peta [00:02:52] I think the lack of diversity in the media really determines how I feel about my body because even when I look at disability advocates, because their disability is so different to mine and disability vary so much, I still don't see myself.
Peta [00:03:11] To be honest, it sometimes does really annoy me that I'll never probably be a size 10 in a beautiful dress, at a wedding, posing for a photo in that 'sideways posy' thing that a lot of girls do, that are my age.
I sometimes get annoyed that I can't stand up in a bathing suit and show off my bum. It seems frivolous and not important, but there are some positives when you can't have the obtainable body when that's just not possible.
Peta [00:03:44] I have no pressure on myself or no comparison on how I should be or who I should look like. As far as I'm concerned, the only person I should look like is myself. Honestly, I think the key to having a positive relationship with your own body is to not focus on the outward stuff so much.
Peta [00:04:07] Like I said, I'm like all of you. I do have flaws that I wish I could fix or even my positives that I wish I could show off more but I can't deny I have a pretty positive relationship with my body. I think that's because I've been taught to focus on the positive, on all the things I can do. I guess that come from a place of not being able to walk. My parents telling me that I should focus on what I can do versus focusing, on the fact, that I can't go for a run or when I was little I can't play hopscotch or climb a tree.
Peta [00:04:47] Going into adulthood, though, I'm just grateful that I can do, what I can do. It seems silly to focus on my weight or the exact size that I am. I'm healthy. I watch what I eat and I'm really proud of how well my body has adapted and continues to adapt to all the challenges that it faces despite not having the full capability that everybody else does.
Peta [00:05:19] So I think if you could maybe focus on what your body could do versus what it can't do or what it should look like, we'd all be in a better place. In the end, we've only got one body and one life, so I try and be actively positive about how I feel about my body because being negative doesn't really solve anything. It just makes me feel worse. And that's just a waste of time. There's enough negativity in this world. So I try and make sure that my internal voice isn't doing the same.
Peta [00:06:01] Thank you so much for listening this week. If you want to get in contact or ask me a question for a future episode, you can get in contact in three ways. One, you can follow me and message me on Instagram @icantstandpodcast. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, you can contact me through the website www.icantstandpodcast.com. Please don't forget to write a review on whatever platform you're listening on. Have a lovely day wherever you are and I'll see you next week.