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  1. Danielle
    Danielle April 24, 2013 at 3:45 pm | | Reply

    Absolutely agree. When I tried contacts for the first time, everyone was telling me, “Oh you looks SO pretty!” I started to think, “So… did you all think I looked terrible before?” (I’m back to glasses now.)

    1. Manda
      Manda April 25, 2013 at 1:43 am | | Reply

      I had the same situation! I keep my contacts for emergencies, the beach, water parks, and trying on new glasses so I can see how they look…but I don’t like how I look without my glasses. Sure, they might be awkward sometimes, but they are a part of me and I don’t feel the same without them, no matter how I might look.

  2. P S
    P S April 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm | | Reply

    Very interesting article, thank you for sharing it! I’ve always had a very different experience with the medical profession on the subject of looks. I’ve always been lead to believe that I’m not worth bothering with when it comes to the beauty industry.

    I have a second partial set of adult teeth that making speaking difficult, distort my ‘real’ teeth and (then I was thinner) showed against my cheeks. I had two separate dentists refuse to do any surgery to correct them as it couldn’t make me attractive. The speech issues were completely ignored. My teeth are ugly, but so is the rest of me, correcting this won’t improve that.

    I started wearing glasses/contacts to function whilst in high school. One of my ears is higher than the other so theres an obvious slant to my glasses when I wear them, that no amount of fiddling with the frames can correct. I was switched to contacts after a few years because “the slant makes you look weird, but its a shame because at least the glasses cover some of your face”. I was never sold frames based on what looked good or suited me, like the other women at the opticians, I was always sold them on size.

    When I was diagnosed with a lifelong potentially-fatal illness (wrongly as it turned out) I was told that I “wouldn’t need to worry about the rashes or staying out of daylight” as “someone like you isn’t exactly a sun worshipping body flaunter”. This was from someone who had known me 30 minutes. She later told me not to worry about cosmetic procedures later on in treatment as “there wasn’t enough cosmetic surgery in the world”.

  3. Andrea
    Andrea April 24, 2013 at 10:25 pm | | Reply

    ICreepingr been pretty, although I hit “all right” on a good day. As a kid with amblyopia, I got taunted by other kids all the time because my one really thick glasses lens made the eye behind it look huge.

    These days I am excused from the beauty standard as a visible cripple creeping up on 40, and I experience it as a relief.

  4. Andrea
    Andrea April 24, 2013 at 10:28 pm | | Reply

    Er, that should be “I have never been”. Swype sometimes doesn’t play nice with comment forms.

  5. fridawrites
    fridawrites April 25, 2013 at 9:30 pm | | Reply

    Have you read Alice Walker’s essay on her eye?
    I’d like to see both of your essays published together in an anthology.

    Also, did you see the Dove ad featuring a woman who is blind? She appears conventional, though.

    I’ve had people look surprised when they find out my husband is married to me. But it’s worse when they think we’re not married and my kids couldn’t be mine and that I must be some other relative–an aunt maybe.

    I couldn’t sit in a wheelchair at first. I couldn’t see myself as a wheelchair user rather than a scooter user, though it’s what I needed. I don’t know why, except that it was about self-image in some way, that I was disabled but not *that* disabled yet. I don’t *think* it was prejudice, but rather slowly coming to terms with it. I wanted to see myself as someone who could still walk a lot.

  6. fridawrites
    fridawrites April 25, 2013 at 6:02 pm | | Reply

    You’re welcome–I’m glad I mentioned the article.

    Here’s the Dove ad and a piece on it by the great s.e. smith.

    I wrote about coming to terms with my chair at the beginning of my blog in 2008, but I’d like to revisit it and add to it through the perspective of 5 years.

  7. Gareeth
    Gareeth April 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm | | Reply

    I’m in a very strange situation right now of having been extremely ill ( I also have multiple disabilities) for over a year. I lost more than half my body weight. Granted I was morbidly obese going into it or I would be dead now. Even now when they are on the verge of putting me in hospital because I am still losing and I fell on my head a few times, and now matter how often I tell people to stop saying it they tell me how terrific I look. I took rather drastic measures to stop that in the short term and shaved me head. (That will shut the bulk of them up for awhile) When I was very fat I still felt “pretty” not that pretty matters but I was perfectly fine with the person I was and since my obesity was mostly about my metabolism and my mobility issues there was no point in not having a healthy outlook. So now when my life has been endangered by rapid weight loss (not because I wanted to) now I look great? My mother died of cancer two months ago. She weighed what she had as a child and was still dieting. Twisted notions of beauty and the value of it need to just end.

  8. Val
    Val April 25, 2013 at 10:16 pm | | Reply

    Such a great post! As if we needed more proof of your badassery.

    Your mention of contacts makes me think of a game I play with my preschool students sometimes. They’ll go, “Take off your glasses!” and I’ll do it, just for a second. And when they see my face sans glasses, the face that most people in my life have told me looks better than my glasses-clad face, my three-year-old students howl with laughter. They say, “You look like someone else!” Just more proof that standards of beauty are learned.

  9. Tracie
    Tracie April 29, 2013 at 1:26 am | | Reply

    A few years ago, I had an accident that left me with a damaged knee and eventually muscle atrophy. I had to re-learn how to walk, I had to wear a very large black with metal rods knee brace. I walked with crutches for longer than I wanted to…at the time I was also running a burlesque show. I remember one night after a very successful show where I was feeling good about myself as I was finally down to just one crutch and singing my heart out…I was chatting with an audience member, we had regulars who would wish us well, tell us they enjoyed the show and at the time give me good wishes on my physio and healing.

    This audience member, while I’m sure had good intentions told me “I can’t wait for your knee to be better” At which I’m thinking “Me neither!” but before I could respond he told me “It’ll be nice to see your leg without the knee brace, much more attractive on a burlesque performer”. I’ll be honest, my heart sank. I grabbed my crutch and stormed off back stage as fast as I could and for the rest of the evening, hiked my damn skirt up to show off the brace.

    I work with special needs kids now, and honestly, their personalities make them some of the most beautiful humans I’ve ever met.
    I think it’s sad, how society *still* places emphasis on outward looks (and I’m not saying I don’t like getting dolled up and such, but I’d like people to know me for me) over inner beauty.

Please comment politely with a regular pseudonym or real name.

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