Foundation & Blush: A Confession

I've always passed by the store in a hurry, its poster-sized prints of women with lips awash in a sticky shine, or women with lashes that curve blissfully like that of a hammock, are quite frankly, intimidating to me. Their glazed over beauty is something that I've always mindlessly watched during twenty-second commercials for the latest "anti-aging revitalizing face sculpting cream," as I refuse to believe any of their advertising ploys have sunk further past my pores.
So, what has sunk further past my pores? What is the foundation, the blush, the shine, the shimmer, the gloss that has been applied to the image of myself my brain projects? It's some form of the phrases below - some lightly swirled on with a brush for special occasions, while others caked on for daily application:
"You're beautiful." 
"It's inner beauty that matters."
"You're still so cute, you haven't changed at all!" 
"You're perfect just the way you are."
"You don't need to change a thing - you should just be natural."
"You don't need this, you're fine."

The point of this post isn't to say that none of the above is true, or that I plan to ever stop believing in any of the above. But I will say that by internalizing these statements well into my quarter-century years, I may be denying something some actual blush and foundation might reveal: I'm still a woman.

The truth is that I don't really identify with being a woman. The statement "I'm still a woman" makes me cringe, it makes me uncomfortable, I feel almost embarrassed. Why? Because I don't actually know what that means. In the year 2012 I am not barred from voting, it is not wholly surprising that I graduate from college and get a job, I am not expected to don an apron and raise kids behind a white-picket fence. For the most part, my life as a young girl or woman hasn't really been all that different from the lifestyles of the other women, or guys that surround me. My gender just hasn't been a big part of my life, not in any obvious ways anyway. And that might actually be the issue.

"You're probably not getting married, so you'll be independent. You're going to take care of yourself." I think I was in middle school or early high school when my mother told me this. If I recall, she didn't actually say it in a condescending or menacing way - it was like a fact. And because I didn't know any different, and nor had I seen (any other woman with a disability with a family) any different, I heard what she said and took it as fact. In my head I thought okay, so this is just something I should accommodate my life around. Just like I accommodate for my disability.

That mentality isn't wrong, but it isn't right either - of course, now, I know that it's not the whole truth. How do I know it? Because a twitter-follower I met during the OIF Conference volunteered to put make-up on me. Because I have been in relationships before. Because I have now seen, and know women with disabilities who raised families. Because Dr. Jen Arnold from the Little Couple on TLC shared her life on national t.v. Because there are shows like The Push Girls. Because I am helping to coordinate a conference for young and older women with disabilities in Boston. Because I sought out these other women who proved my original mindset wrong. And it's a certain terrifying breath of relief that they did: terrifying because I now have a lot of figuring out to do for myself. Relief because I know that there are many options I previously thought were not for me, now are - and, more importantly, it isn't because I am in a wheelchair.

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