Upon first glance, people don’t often know that I have a disability. I “look” normal. A closer glance would reveal the odd quirks and features of my body. The way my arms and legs curve, the scars scattered across my limbs like broken roadways of a surgerical map, the bone growths, and my “shocking” toes.
I hid the parts of me that were different for years, and I mean years. To this day, I still struggle with revealing these parts of me. I’ve learned to accept and even love myself, I’ve learned that I am beautiful and my disability does not define me…but that doesn’t stop the reactions my disability can and does have from strangers and people I am acquainted to from hurting me, scarring me deeper than the wounds left upon my actual flesh.
But I grew tired of hiding behind layers in the hot summer. I wanted to wear skirts and dresses and flip flops. I wanted to not swelter every time I went outside. But I feared the reaction my classmates would have. When I graduated high school, I honestly thought I didn’t need to hide anymore.
Only…the reactions haven’t stopped, and I’ve only very recently started speaking up against the ignorance that follows the not-at-all harmless question of “What’s wrong with your [toes/legs/whatever body part]”.
I used to tell myself, they’re just curious. They’re not meaning to be cruel or make me feel bad, only I’m realizing that’s total and complete bullshit. I’m realizing that I don’t owe anybody an explanation for why my body is the way it is. Being asked for one any time I wear outfits the reveal my legs and toes is rude.
I have a disability, but strangers do not have the right to ask me about it and put me on the spot. It’s rude. Curious as you are, I highly doubt you’d go up to someone in a wheelchair and ask them but why? Why are you in a wheelchair?
Do you know why you wouldn’t? Because it’s rude. And you know that they’re in the wheelchair because of a disability. And you know, to a degree, that if this person wanted to share with you why they are in a wheelchair, they would. Asking them isn’t polite and I’m tired of having to explain myself to total strangers.
I wore a dress yesterday, and flip flops. Of course, I was self-concious…I always am. But I wore it any way because it was warm and I kinda felt pretty and feminine.
I got to the bus stop. I was talking to my friend about how excited I was to get a pedicure. A woman at the bus stop, whom I see every day, looked down at my toes and exclaimed “Woah!”.
I looked at her and said, “woah what?”
She stumbled for a minute, then suggested I go to a place in town. I told her I was going somewhere else and tired to ignore the fact that she kept staring at my legs and feet.
In the afternoon, at pick up, she bluntly said, “can I ask why you have all those scars?”
I clenched my teeth, because it irritates me to answer this question. Every time I feel forced, put on the spot. It’s difficult to accept the fact that I cannot go anywhere wearing a sundress without giving at least one “curious” person an explanation, but I told her.
That was that. Or so I thought…until this afternoon. I was wearing flip flops and shorts and talking to the two ladies at the bus stop, one being my friend and the other being the same one who questioned me yesterday. The one who questioned me yesterday looked down at my feet again and started laughing.
“Oh my god! Your toes!” She laughed, as if it was a hilarious joke.
“Excuse me?” I said, seething with anger and embarrassment. “That’s incredibly rude.”
She laughed again, and said “I’m sorry but…they’re just so weird looking. Were you like born that way?”
By this point, I seriously wanted to clock her. “Yes I was, and you are being incredibly rude.”
I couldn’t believe it. It was worse than my usual encounters with “curious” strangers.
I know that this particular person is rude and cruel, but it still doesn’t make it any easier to go through.
You know what’s kind of ridiculous? I experience more shit from females about my physical differences and quirks than I do males. For every 1 male that questions me about my toes or legs or scars, there are literally 6 females demanding an explanation like they’re owed it, or putting me down.
So if you’re one of those people who think that they’re owed an explanation from someone they hardly know about their disability, you need to check yourself before I pop ya one in the nose.
I don’t mind sharing my story, on my own terms. I don’t owe anybody an explanation and I’m no longer going to answer strangers prying questions. Especially if they’re doing it to be cruel, like this woman obviously was.