By Katherine Magnoli
I feel their eyes burn a hole into my soul as I go by. Why? You might ask. Am I beautiful? Well some may say I am, others’ may not. However, beauty is not the reason for the stares I receive. The reason all eyes are on me is because I’m in a wheelchair. Now, some of you may think “oh well that is just a natural curiosity,” and indeed it is. However, the real way to cure one’s curiosity is not to stare but ask what happened.
Unfortunately, due to the misconception that people in wheelchairs are angry at their lot in life that response rarely ever happens. However, in the case that it does it’s usually followed by a “God Bless You.” or “You will walk again, some day.” Now, as nice of a gesture that is meant to be that can also be very insulting. The reason this is insulting is because it’s as if that person feels that my life will magically get better if I start having use in my legs. They can’t even imagine for one second that I am as accomplished and/or happy with my life that I discussed in my first article. However, when they hear my list of accomplishments the look of surprise and shame on their face puts an extra little smirk on mine.
Another thing that truly makes me laugh is when I am wheeling up a ramp, and let me just preface this by saying I have visibly very strong arms, yet someone feels the need to come up behind me and start pushing me without asking or me giving permission. When this occurs I always wonder, how would this person feel if I came up behind them and started pushing their butt in order to make them walk faster.
Another aspect of living with a disability in today’s society that I find humorous is the assumption that we only date those with a disability. Now, I know many handsome and intelligent men who happen to use wheelchairs, so that is not the offensive part it’s actually quite humorous to be honest. I say that because I, myself, have only dated “able-bodied” men. Which brings me to another funny aspect of living with a physical disability. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I go in public with a partner who can walk, people automatically think he is my brother. They think this until we start kissing that is. Then the look of shock on their faces is extremely comical.
Now that is not the only part of dating that is difficult when it comes to interability dating. Honestly, I have lost count on how many times I have heard “Have you ever um?”, fill in the blank here. Now, I know I started this article by encouraging questions but some are just silly. I mean I am 35 years old, if I hadn’t had yet I would be much crankier than I am.
Okay well on that note I will end this article, but before I do I just want to make it clear that this article is in no way complaining about being in wheelchair, in fact I celebrate this everyday. I do it because it has made me the strong, independent and determined person that I am. This is simply to help educate society to avoid some of its faux pas that people with disabilities deal with on a daily basis.