I don’t meet many people who love their bodies. It could be their thighs, their boobs are too small, and their belly is too big. We all have our insecurities. This life. This also has nothing to do with the onset of social media, although it’s made insecurities for millions worse, but what constitutes beauty has been dictated by different societies for thousands of years.

In the 1920s, it was beautiful to be voluptuous … In the mid-90s being an anorexic stick figure was apparently attractive. Who dictated these trends? Well, another topic for another time.

I decided to do a little experiment with my caregiver the other day with a tasteful sexy photo shoot in my bed. Who did I make this photo shoot for? ME (I also didn’t feel like spending $500 on a boudoir photo shoot, although that might be fun one day as a present myself)

Right before my accident in 2010 I thought I had the most rocking body. I worked out 4 hours a day, had a four pack, and beautiful triceps dips. I worked really hard for the body. In fact, about 3 weeks before my accident I just developed these triceps dips for the first time in my life. About a week into living the ICU I recall saying to my sister, while crying I might add, how all I wanted to do was get back the shape in my arms. Apparently, my priorities were a little off kilter at that point 😊

Now, as a quadriplegic, I continue to have my pear-shaped body with the addition of quadriplegic belly because I have no muscle control, no muscle tone in many parts of my body, and the list goes on. I used to love my long legs, but now as a quadriplegic transferring and having people move my 5’9 body … Well, it’s a pain!

It took years and years to eventually develop this mindset where I feel that I look just as sexy curled up like a little Eskimo as I do half naked in lingerie. Truth – I still don’t feel as sexy as I did before my accident, but I’ve had to learn to adjust to a different reality is so many of us do.

Today though, I want to celebrate how far I have come with respect to image for myself alone. Not for anyone else. I want to showcase all types of bodies and build confidence for those who do not have it YET!

When I was first injured in 2010, I did gain about 50 pounds due to an obscene amount of medication. Leaving that aside, I could not look in the mirror because society and social media were telling me I was just ugly. My disfigured paralyzed body was not normal. Honestly, for 2 years I could barely look in the mirror – only when I had to. I couldn’t stand the sight of me in a wheelchair. I could not figure out who was going to love me if I couldn’t love myself inside and outside.

When I first started dating after my accident, which took 5 years by the way, I was so nervous. I was so used to a flat stomach and having control of my body. I was concerned if I was going to have a bowel accident or pee on some guy that I was in bed with. These are real concerns for many of us living in wheelchairs. Most able-bodied people don’t think about these kind of things… We do. I was wondering if my blood pressure was going to go skyrocketing or if my body would break being bent to different positions. Turns out the first time I did have sex I did end up breaking my tailbone because I bet my legs too far behind my head. I learned my lesson on this one and I have been careful on this front ever since 🙂

Today is just a post on body image love … all shapes, all sizes, all curves, and more. I have learned that there is someone for everyone and each of us find different types of bodies attractive. Since my accident, I don’t love to be naked of my quad belly rolling around when I’m being intimate with my partner, but they love all of me, so that’s quite heartening. Even during my online dating experiments when I would be intimate with a gentleman for a short period of time, it didn’t seem to bother them.

I’m also a little quirky and advertise myself as “Paralyzed Barbie.” What does this mean? Well, I’m pretty bendable (to a point) and they can have their fun way with me as long as they are the ones that move me. I have not received any complaints yet! However, I am quite open with my sexuality, so if something does go wrong, well, that’s just life.

For me, normalizing highly uncomfortable topics is how we consistently move the needle on changing societal perceptions — especially on issues relating to disability.

After all, 8/10 people will acquire some kind of disability throughout their life. There’s no discrimination here. Disability doesn’t do that … Just remember what the late disability activist Hale Zukas said “Everyone is Temporarily able-bodied.”

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