July is Disability Pride Month!

Logo for The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair: text reads The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair, woman is posed, legs crossed, arms crossed and the wheelchair is pink

July is Disability Pride Month!

Black wheelchair, arms on wheels and the wheels is yellow

I’m committed to amplifying the voices of our community every day as well as sharing stories of my own including real life stories such as the accessibility in my own local community! Do you pledge to help me? Let’s make Disability Pride 2020 be memorable even during COVID-19!
Image Description: Logo for The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair: text reads The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair, woman is posed, legs crossed, arms crossed and the wheelchair is pink Text reads, “ July is Disability Pride Month!” Image of black wheelchair, arms on wheels and the wheels is yellow. Text reads, “I’m committed to amplifying the voices of our community every day as well as sharing stories of my own including real life stories such as the accessibility in my own local community! Do you pledge to help me? Let’s make Disability Pride 2020 be memorable even during COVID-19!“

July is Disability Pride Month! That’s right! PRIDE MONTH! 30 days of Disability Pride!

Just like the image says, I’m going to be using the platform here to be taking advantage of how we can celebrate inclusion. It’s also so important to encourage and promote accessibility. I’m beyond excited to show off the incredible diversity in our disabled community. The disabled community is so incredible. I‘m so happy to be apart of this truly amazing community of advocates.

I’m going to be using my platform this month to elevate and amplify the disabled community, but also taking advantage of educating during this time. I have been blessed over the years (and especially the past few weeks) to be educated by many loved ones and friends with wisdom and guidance on social issues. I am happy to guide in the same way.

While cities like New York and Philadelphia have parades to celebrate Disability Pride, they were cancelled (understandably) and either moved to virtual celebrations or are focused their energy to host bigger celebrations next year. I may not have a city where Disability Parades have happened (maybe some time soon!), I do have a platform. Through that platform, I can use it to educate as I mentioned. This is something that I’m choosing to consciously to do as a way to foster something that may help. Education by my loved ones made a huge impact in my life.

Let’s also remember during Disability Pride time that disabled people encompass minorities, immigrants, multiple sexualities/identities, etc. As we navigate 2020, it’s imperative to remember that Black disabled people (especially women/womnx) are apart of this equation. One of my dear friends with a progressive, debilitating and rare disease brought up recently about a racist experience that she experienced at the hospital. The system is already setup to disavow disabled people, even when they’re not Black.

As we go into Disability Pride Month, I want to talk so proudly about all of the things that I love and hate about being a person with a disability. I want to talk rawly about the privileges I will never have because I am a woman with a disability. In that same light, I must acknowledge my skin is not black like my friend and I never experienced anything like her. We have to talk simple here because sometimes people don’t get it. I want to talk about the way I wish I could attend a parade because I am so lonely some days. I want to be honest, raw, and make people proud because I am proud of who I am. And who I am is a person with a disability. These are all thoughts I have thought in relation to “Disability Pride” and they are important. Inclusion, diversity, and accessibility are important. Disability refers to both physical and non-physical disabilities.

It means people like me, but also hearing disabilities, visual, hearing and developmental disabilities too. Disabled people can have invisible disabilities where their disability and or chronic illness makes them appear able-bodied. The same way you may not know a person is low-vision. Bottom line: disabled people are diverse and that needs to be apart of our Disability Pride 2020. Diversity is rad.

With all that I said,

Happy Disability Pride Month, friends!

P.S. This is a new exciting chapter of my life and I’m very excited this aligned with July. As many of my friends know, I’ve revamped The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair to be completely accessible to all disabilities including screen readers and low-vision. Old posts will start “popping up” as the images get Photo IDed. Be patient with me, friends. I had surgery recently and I’m still moving slow. Slowly, but surely!!!

Disability Pride Month is an exciting thing in itself, despite many celebrations being cancelled. But hey – who knows? I have some ideas of my own!! Wait and see! 😉

Finding Self Love as a Disabled 20 Something Woman

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Self love is something that you read about incessantly if you are addicted to Pinterest like me. Come on, I am not the only one. Or am I? It’s also become more popular — too — on Instagram.  Self love is something that has been as foreign to me as understanding people who are naturally morning risers. It has never came naturally to look at my body and say, “I love this body. I love this reflection of myself. I love this image of myself. I love this disabled body of mine!” Yeah, it’s complicated. It doesn’t help that women (able-bodied) are already scrutinized and can’t conform to beauty standards. Try being a disabled women. It suddenly feels like you can’t conform to something that feels impossible.

I have never been able to recite the words above as I’ve said. Why is it you may ask? I never felt it in my bones. I’m naturally a dead honest. And as much as I love the reflection of others, I have always battled so much of my own.

As someone who is now what is considered a young 20 something (and is definitely a not a hip one): I wanted to change. I want to look at selfies of myself and say, “I love this image of myself.” The real question is: how do you do that? These things below are things that I have been saying to myself to love myself, to treat myself better, and mostly to fall in love with myself in ways that don’t lead to false positivity or driving myself to levels of false esteem that I can’t reach.

This is how I have been going about my little self love journey by a few of these little numbering ‘check points’ below:

1. Your body is always going to be different. Embrace your different. Love your different. That is not a bad thing. It is a good thing. Your body has survived so much. You are a survivor. How many bodies have survived what yours has… and have still have gone on? When I was growing up in my chair, I wanted to be able bodied and hated my body. I couldn’t see that anyone would want this body. Now that I’m in my 20s, I still struggle with my thoughts. Since I’ve started this journey: I see myself as a disabled woman who loves herself including the many facets of her disease. It’s liberating.

2. Stop being ashamed of the hidden parts (aka the ‘ugly parts’ to you) of your disease/disability. There are many facets of many people’s lives that are not glamorous too. How many people hide themselves or parts of their lives? Be who you are and don’t be ashamed. Your disease is out of your hands. If someone thinks a symptom is ugly, disgusting, etc. than that part is not worthy of your time. Point blank. The next time

3. If you name something that you hate about yourself: you must name 10 things you love about yourself to combat that behavior. This is easy, right? You probably hate your stomach if you’re a quadriplegic or someone with immense core weakness (like me) or maybe you hate the fact that your legs are atrophied. It’s easy as a woman who is abled bodied to name 10 things in general. However, it’s hard to name 10 things. Do it. Name those 10 things. It can be internal or external. However, really focus on them. Make yourself look in the mirror. It will help you see yourself in the way that another person does. Fall in love with yourself!

4. Find something that makes you feel sexy. Yes — sexy! I seriously lost that sexy feeling. (I sang that as I typed it.) It was something that I enjoyed feeling when I was young and more free — despite my disability when I was ambulatory. I started incorporating things that made me feel like I was again. That means testing out makeup, buying some good bras, and keep on with my skin. It is not for anyone,  but for me. It’s a good feeling. Try it out. I struggled a lot with this. It wasn’t necessarily my chair, but my progression. Treating yourself to pretty things helps your brain.

5. It’s okay to feel nothing sometimes about your body. Loving yourself is hard. We do not always need to feel positive. Just feel accepting of your body and move on. If someone told me this years and years ago, I would’ve been absolutely mind blown. This has been a hard concept for me. Don’t get me wrong. I am totally here for body positivity. I think it’s amazing — especially when it relates to disabled women, women of color, etc. However, body positivity is hard, too. It’s hard to always feel positive especially with bodies that don’t function. Sometimes it’s okay to just say, “I accept my body. I love you, but today I don’t like you. I will treat you right, but eh.” This has been helpful for me. It’s just a medium ground for me. No strong feelings of hatred and no wild feelings of love. It’s helped me to see myself as more than a body as well.

I cannot say that I have everything figured out. Does anyone ever have it all? I am continually evolving in this journey of loving my body and loving myself. I feel like I’ve done a great job lately. I’m proud to say that I can look in a mirror lately and not feel angry or upset. I often feel good when I look in a mirror. I think I would’ve made 16 year old feel proud. I hope I can make 16 year old you (if you’re reading this) find some inspiration if you’re battling the thoughts that I was.

Your body is perfect even when you think it’s not. Your wheelchair is beautiful even when you think it’s not. Your speech is lovely even when it’s not. All of you is absolutely beautiful in so many ways regardless of what the media wants you to believe.

I hope you can find inspiration here to love yourself better.

What’s been your number one tip in finding self love as a disabled woman? Drop it below!

love,

dee