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Guest post: “My two cents”

May 5, 2010

Adam, a friend of Happy Bodies, reflects on ableism, subjectivity and personal beauty

I heard this radio piece the other day: Spinal Muscular Atrophy ‘Doesn’t Define Me’

It stood out to me particularly because I have been spending a good amount of time with students who are disabled lately. I think Ben Mattlin could teach us all a few things about healthy relationships with our bodies. He puts into words exactly the feeling I get from the students I’ve been around– that it is perfectly good to be happy in your body, even if your body doesn’t conform to those so-called “standards” society sets.

It also gives me some perspective on the idea of physical beauty. I am a little embarrassed to admit it, but I never met my students expecting to enjoy their physical beauty. Now I do. They have never aspired to look like movies stars or models, but I think I feel a more profound sense of pleasure when I see them than if I were to run across Halle Barry tomorrow. Now you know I’m serious!! It’s the feeling I get when I look at my mom. What’s a more beautiful than that?

I’m realizing more and more just how subjective personal beauty is. Subjective and important. I think we have a lot at stake in our own beauty, maybe even happiness itself. We may turn to society for help, but in the end we interpret our beauty for ourselves. That’s lucky, because if happiness is on the line I want to make my own decision.

My students make the choice not to compare themselves with normative models of beauty, and they seem happy. That makes them great to be around, and being around them for a while I start to love them, and their looks too. Their happiness starts making them beautiful. So let’s go by their example and take things into our own hands. Let’s try to be happy first, then beautiful!!

On that note, here’s another something to chew on…

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