I recently became a member of a Facebook community called Wheel Mommies, which is intended for women wheelchair users who are moms, soon-to-be moms (like myself) or even want-to-be moms. It’s a closed community where the members can ask questions, vent, brag, get support or anything else that one could possibly need and/or want from a community of women in similar situations. It’s a fun group and I’m glad to be a member.
Recently there was a thread of members posting selfies and the moderator, Ashley Roberts, noticed that many women were only posting their faces, and not including their wheelchairs. She posed the question of whether the ladies were ashamed of their wheelchairs. (I know it’s a closed community and things there are supposed to be kept private, so I hope I’m forgiven for sharing this.) The responses were varied. Some women were fearless and embraced their lives on wheels — they weren’t embarrassed to have their wheelchairs in their pictures. Some of their answers were funny, saying things like they needed a selfie stick to get more in the frame.
But some women stated they did not like their wheelchair shown in their pictures. It was a mixed bag of not wanting to memorialize it, not wanting to see it, not wanting to accept it. The discussion then turned into moral support for everyone. (I swear, if you are a female in a wheelchair, join this group because the support you will receive from everyone is so positive and uplifting!)
It was shocking to see how different people react to a similar situation. Using a wheelchair was never anything I was ashamed of or embarrassed about. Not including it in pictures was never even a thought in my head, so to hear how some of these ladies felt was eye opening.
The funny thing is, while I don’t mind the wheelchair, I HATED having my cane in photos. Before the wheelchair, I had to walk with a cane, and that was my embarrassment. I would have rather fallen down while posing without my cane than to have it featured in a photo. Stupid? Yes. Vain? Very. But at that time, when I looked at myself in a photo, the cane was all I saw. The lack of fine motor skill and the inability to stand without stumbling jumped out at me. It was how I defined myself and I hated it. And now I would give anything to be able to still walk with just a cane!
The point is this: Love yourself. It doesn’t matter if you stand 6 feet tall or if you’re in a wheelchair. It doesn’t matter if you walk normally or have a huge limp. Just embrace who you are and strut in whatever way you can. Let your attitude and self-acceptance shine from within. I truly hope this can be your gift to yourself this new year: Love yourself. I know that’s easier said than done and extremely cliché, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
And for the record, on this particular subject, I fell into the full body/wheelchair picture category. What can I say, I was wearing a good outfit that day.