Emma's Summer Contemplations - June 9th

Last night’s topic was health and bodies. In Crip Camp Sweden we discussed how the very definition of health has been – and still is – quite ableist, as well as how one’s own body has suffered from it. The topic of health is too big to be able to tick off in a small blog post. What is health? What is being healthy? Does anyone else ever has the right to express opinions of your well-being and how can we redefine the notion of health to make it more accessible and meaningful? You can write a Ph.D. about this (you can write plenty!). So, today’s blog post be about the body – and more specifically, the view of and the love for The Body of One’s Own.

Parts of me think that this is too private for a public post. The very thing I detest is to be considered an “inspiration”. The dangerous word that crips too often get to hear just because of their very existence. Then add the dimension of corporality and – oh my! – feeling comfortable in your own body, and you will with a 100 % accuracy meet endless cheers. It is of course not that weird when you look at it. Because, as so many other people have stated before me: there are few things more radical than loving what other people rejects. The disabled body is, according to society, not wanted. It is too often going through surgery, being edited, investigated, and discussed. So to stand up for (or rather: stay seated) and proclaim that you actually do like your body, think it is nice and in many ways decent and – especially! – totally reasonable, will suddenly turn into a radical act in itself. A political one at that, even if the only thing I ever said was that I was just fine. Consequently, it is not weird that you do not feel up to posting a bikini picture on your Instagram; who wants to deal with the comments on you being strong and lovely when all you ever did was to relax in the sun? All the positive affirmations are obviously made with the best of intentions. People of course have the right to be surprised at something they have not experienced before, just as it is a good thing that people start to think. But, from there to express your surprise and how you got inspired… I had actually hoped society had gotten further. I will not write about how we are not allowed to comment on each other’s bodies. It would be absurd. But we should consider how we comment. And when. And to whom and why.

My mum and I both got long toes. When I was a kid, she used to tell me that she was combing my fringes (that is; the toes). It was a compliment given to something as small as ten small toes. I love my toes. Just because they are mine. I do not use them for anything other than aesthetic purposes, it really does not make that big of a difference if they are there or not. But they are mine and they belong to me. I like the rest of my body in the very same way – every little part of it. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it itches, sometimes it works and at other times it does not. But my body is mine and it is the one in which I live.

When physical therapists measure angles and say things like I “suffer from a decrease in mobility due to loss of strength and/or muscle tightness”, and “oh Emma, not good, not good at all”, all I can do is to look at them and despair.  Did someone just have an opinion? A minute ago people thought I was an inspiration for showing some skin, and the next moment somebody wants to make me more normative and hence less inspiring? Can you perhaps make your mind up? Or you know what: don’t. Let my body be mine. Put your opinions in a neat little box and seal it with an iron belt, and let us keep our bodies. And then, when society have figured out decent answers to how, when, to whom, and why, then all of us can celebrate fringe toes and other nice things. When my body is mine and not a political symbol that is valued, oppressed, and a battlefield for opinions. That is when I will be satisfied.

(By the way: what is your opinion on moss green toenails as the color of summer 2020? I think I am all for it!)

Emma Åstrand

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