A crooked nose can be attractive. A round belly can be sexy. A pair of big feet can be downright adorable. But a whole body full of scars and deformities? In our society, where physical beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, I simply didn't fit into any category.
Who would ever love me?
What man could ever want me?
Who would look at me and think I was any ounce of beautiful – a plucky red-haired 27-year-old who spent more times in hospitals than singles bars and had more scars than freckles.
I eventually got tired of letting those questions have free reign in my mind, so I tried overlooking, maybe even denying, the fact that my disability had anything to do with my relationship (or lack thereof) with men.
But the truth was, it did. Or maybe more important, it did to me. In my attempts to deny my disability, I also pushed myself so inward that no one – not even the strongest man – could penetrate the wall I’d built around myself.
But finally, it began to sink in. I had followed other people’s notions of beauty for so long that I’d lost track of my own. I thought that if I could just walk, if I could just cover up those pesky scars, if I could just be blonde and blend into the background for awhile, I could be just another face in the crowd.
Maybe that's part of the reason I became a writer in the first place, not so much to escape my disability altogether, but to take a little breather every once in awhile. In my writing, I could be anyone I wanted to be. I could be the woman who gets the guy. I could be the woman who is chased instead of the one always doing the chasing. I could even be the girl who finds her Happily Ever After.
It was only in that moment when I realized that there is really no such thing as normal, that I could start to feel my insecurities melt away.
Who knows, maybe men were more turned off by my insecurities than my disability all along. I know I’ll never be a 5”7’ blonde model walking the runways of Paris, and that, yes, to some extent, my disability will always stand out. But I also know that’s okay. I’ve finally learned women can’t keep relying on others to guide them on all things beautiful; it’s up to every women to form her own category of beautiful, to find what it is that makes her stand in front of the background.
The more I grow, the more I love the category I’ve created for myself. I love how my red hair turns heads, how I’m not afraid to look people in the eyes when we’re talking, how I’ve discovered a newfound confidence as a freelance writer and how I no longer care if I’m the one who laughs the loudest. I feel more womanly than I’ve ever felt before. I feel confident and sexy. I finally feel like me. A strong woman can live with her disability but not live within it
It just happens to be that my disability is the first thing people see when they look at me. If they dug deeper, they'd see I'm more than the sum total of all my parts, deformity, scars and all. I'm a daughter. I'm a sister. I’m a best friend. I'm a writer and lover of great movies. I'm feisty and have known to be stubborn more than once. And of course, I am a woman.
And anyway, who says scars can’t be sexy?