Happy Friday, lovies!
Everyone pumped for the weekend? I am excited to hang out with Travis, but I am not nearly as excited about the potential 3-6 or 5-8 inches of snow we may get depending on the weather station!
As a special education grad student, we have a lot of opportunities to attend speakers, conferences, etc in the field. On Tuesday night, our class took a little field trip to the campus chapel to see speaker Eli Clare. He gave a thought provoking speech entitled “Gaping, Gawking, Staring: Living in Marked Bodies.”
For those of you unfamiliar with Eli Clare (which I was until this opportunity), check out the site about him. He has a long history of differing diseases including cerebral palsy.
Ok, now back to his presentation.
Eli started off by talking about what it means to have your body stolen from you. Not only do those with disabilities feel the impact of society’s evil. Often, we all allow society to “steal” our bodies from us. We allow it to take our sense of pride, confidence, beauty. Magazines and the media depict the “perfect body”, but perfect is different for each of us. Being “fat” doesn’t mean that you have to live your life in a state of depression. He showed us pictures of burlesque dancers who are known for their larger size. They get in front of a crowd completely naked and dance without feeling any sense of discomfort.
These dancers have “claimed” their bodies. They don’t care that people are staring at them. They have a sense of themselves and allow their own lives to be more important than the views of those around them.
He told about bodies as objects. A body is more than an object. It is not something to be studied, gawked at, put in a glass case so no one can touch it. A body is something to love, regardless of a person’s image, size, ability, or disability.
Eli also covered bodies as stereotypes. Hopefully, we all know that there is more to a person than what a certain stereotype portrays. Sometimes, though, I am sure many of us have allowed a particular stereotype to become somewhat of a fact in our heads. He encouraged us to look beyond those stereotypes and break down the walls that they have put between us and those around us.
Another aspect of Eli’s speech covered bodies to cure. He showed a picture of a sad but adorable little girl in a wheelchair with the caption “In Dreams She Runs.” The poster was showing that the girl would not be happy until she could run; that she was not fully living without the ability to get out of the wheelchair and go. That way of looking at people is robbing them of their abilities and strictly focusing on a disability. Regardless of abilities, a person is a person. Not all people want to be cured; in fact, many with disabilities are perfectly content the way that they are. We should all try to live that way: to love our lives regardless of ability and disability. We are all amazing the way we are; there is nothing that needs to be cured.
As a recap: we are not bodies to be cured, to be gawked at, to be stereotyped, or to be seen as an object. We all are bodies to CELEBRATE! By allowing others to steal our bodies away, we are losing so much of ourselves. Our personality, our body image, and our love can be stripped away from us. It is our job to reclaim our bodies and celebrate them, flaws and all! He encouraged us to stand in front of a mirror naked, which many people are afraid of doing. He even had us pair up or group up and talk about ways in which our bodies have been stolen and also ways in which we have reclaimed our bodies.
I encourage you to think about ways in which your body has been stolen. I know there are days in which I allow society to trick me into working out to the extreme or eating practically nothing so that I can maybe squeeze into a smaller size. Why do I do this?! Thanks, society! It’s a hard road to reclaim my self image, but it’s one that I am trying hard to follow.
I know this is a hearty topic for a Friday afternoon, but I felt the need to share it with you. And if you ever have the opportunity to see Eli Clare speak, I encourage you to do so!
Now, I am off to patiently wait for my boo. We have a dinner date planned for tonight
Can you think of any ways in which your body has been “stolen” from you?
Have you reclaimed any part of your life?
What are your weekend plans!?