I posted this picture after realizing that it was OK for me to show my eye in my selfie.
It got me to thinking about why I was so shy to post it. It got me to wondering what it was that brought the shame back. We all know I’m proud of my eye, we all know I identify as the feminist incarnation of Odin.
And what I realized was that it came back to the bullying.
I’m 28, it’s years later, and the insults from my childhood still ring in my ears when I think about being pretty.
So, no, Jezebel. My selfie is not a cry for help.
My selfie is a fucking battle cry.
My selfie says that I am no longer ashamed. I got the help I needed. I fixed it.
I no longer think about the boy who would make the cross and run away from me when I approached him on the playground. I no longer think about the people who shuffle their children to the side when they see me. I no longer consider the children who ask me if I’m an evil witch. I no longer consider that they think I’m posessed. That I’m evil. That I’m a demon.
The opthalmologist who told me I would be prettier with matching eyes? Fuck him. I do not need his approval. I left his office in tears, but I am stronger now.
My selfie is not asking you to validate me. My selfie is about showing myself to the world without shame, and about celebrating that I am free of the barbs which have been flung at me. You want to put me down?
I am a disabled feminist. Hear me roar.
Even though I wrote that post “this is what a blind person looks like” and included my own selfie… I still have such issues with my eyes. In some ways, part of me feels more comfortable now that I have to wear tinted glasses…. because then it’s not so obvious that I look “weird.”
I do have bouts of “fuck you if you stare or make fun of me because I’m blind and look different….” but decades of bullying often override my self confidence. I hope that one day, I’m able to embrace how I look without any insecurities.
I applaud you for this post & how fearless you are <3.
Hello there, I just discovered your wonderful website after reading your piece on XOJane about being “blind enough.” As I read this I was struck that for the first time I was reading someone else write about an experience I’ve had that left me feeling very alone most of my childhood. I’m 34 and lost my left eye to a serious accident when I was eleven, spent three years in and out of hospitals as they tried, in vain, to save my eye, and was laughed at and taunted in school the entire time. The boy who grabbed me and covered my sighted eye and told his friends they could beat me up since I couldn’t see, being called Cyclops. But kids are awful and cruel, and I’ve let go.
As an adult, the prosthetic has shown me the worst the “grown up” world has to offer. What’s odd is that the questions about my blindness, and the prosthetic are annoying and get old, yes, but it’s the occasionally lobbed insult or dig that I’m stung by most even now. Much as I’m tired of explaining that the eye isn’t glass; I don’t have to take it out at night; no I don’t want to wear a patch; and no I do not have a lazy eye, guy who is now going to tell me he could tell it was a prosthetic (okay); I deal with it. But it’s the insults that make me feel self conscious about my “weird eye” and what people think when they look at me. I can still hear the friend of a friend, “Oh, were you talking to me? I can’t tell because your eyes go different directions.” The one big difference between eleven year old me and 34 year old me is that now I stand up for myself, even if inside I’m crushed.
I wish I was as brave as you. I avoid photos, most of my “selfies” include sunglasses, angles, dogs held in front of my face, etc. I think your overall sentiment is much the same as mine; come at me bro! Perhaps I’ll approach selfies with your confidence and zeal one of these days. In other words, thank you for advocating for you, me, and everyone else you touch with your words.
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