My most popular quote on my tumblr blog is this, from the blog, This Aint Livin':
And why is disability never included in discussions of natural beauty, when disability is natural?
The quote has gotten a lot of reblogs and a couple of additional comments, including one where the person mentioned that she thought it is hard for an able-bodied person to find a disabled body as beautiful and to not be fetishizing if one does. This caused me to think. I think there is a difference between fetishizing a person's body and finding it beautiful. I can appreciate scars, or fat, or amputated limbs and I am simply a person that has a perspective open enough to be able to include those things in my own definition of beauty. It is only if I need to see that scar, fat, or amputation to be sexually turned on that my appreciation becomes a fetish. To say that an able-bodied person can only see a disabled person's body as beautiful if they are participating in a fetish is extremely narrow thinking and is an excuse for bigotry, in my opinion. In Christianity, we are called to see the face of Jesus in everyone we meet-now, I don't know if Jesus was classically beautiful, but surely if you can think of everyone as being a part of the soul of Godde, then you can see the beauty in everyone.
The comment also made me think about the beauty of my own disability. The original quote was only about physical disabilities and my disabilities are mainly invisible, but it makes me feel good to think of my disabilities as beautiful. And really, mental disabilities are still a physical disability, as the brain is a physical organ and my brain is beautiful. I'm sure that if you were to do a brain scan, my brain would look different than the average brain. For instance, here is a PET scan of the brain of a depressed person as opposed to one that is not and you can see the differences.
My mental illnesses can be terrible things-having depression, anxiety, and borderline is not fun at all, but I do find a beauty in what I have been able to accomplish despite having disability. My mental illnesses are terrible teachers, but they are beautiful teachers too. I have learned that I have massive inner strength and that I am incredibly motivated. I have discovered that I am a leader. I have learned to be kinder to myself and how to self soothe. Indeed, I am a powerful person and I would not know this without the help of my mental illnesses. My mental illnesses may not be physically beautiful, but they are beautiful in what they have taught me. For that, I am grateful.
People with disabilities are not broken. We are not symbols. We are people.