black and white photo of Ali posed in wheelchair half dressed looking forward

Yesterday I had an hour to kill and I decided to do a fun filled beauty Photo-shoot for myself.  I think my mother was an excellent photographer. The behind the scenes of setting my body up, well that was rather comical and gave me a great giggle for the day, but it propelled me to think about something more intellectually and emotionally substantial.

Ali in black-and-white photo Lane back in wheelchair wrapped around with beach cover-up half naked for Photoshoot with one arm in the air.

I started thinking about what is sexy? What is good-looking? Why do we feel we constantly try to make ourselves look more able-bodied or hide our physical disabilities from the world? The narrative is slowly starting to change with respect to representation in the media for people with all disabilities.  However, I have been pondering what constitutes being attractive as I enter the dating world as a single 40-year-old quadriplegic once again.

It all comes down to Ableism. Too big of a topic to dive into at the moment, but I will spend some time on this in future posts.

Without a doubt, no matter how physically attractive a person may be to me, they have to have the intellect and common moral ground in their belief systems with me.

Of course, there needs to be an initial attraction on both sides, but you have to talk to this person over time you plan on being with them, so you better like what they have to say or at least have an engaging conversation.  Especially as you get older the concept of companionship becomes increasingly important in the sex part of relationship doesn’t carry the same weight as it did in your early 20s I suppose.  Well, that’s my general philosophy, but I’m sure there are some who may feel differently.

I put up a post a month or two ago of me all snuggled up in my bed and looking rather ridiculous, but I think still rather cute with all my stuffed animals (I share again below). I was thinking about the dichotomy of my life and that while I am a strong, independent, and capable quadriplegic in a wheelchair there are so many sides to me. I am serious and silly, deep and lighthearted, hard-working and playful, etc. the expression of my photos is no different.

As I look at some of these photos, I absolutely love them. I love that I can confidently show off my wheelchair and be proud of everything I’ve accomplished in 13 years despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles at times. That doesn’t discount that I am still a woman who wants to feel beauty with or without another partner.

Why do I feel like these photos are more beautiful? Probably because of all of the stereotypes of what beauty is in our society. I’ve opened up a can of worms and I’m sure many have many thoughts on this.

Ali in bright pink beach wrap with beach wheelchair and Photoshoot with legs sprawled out on mattress and blonde hair

I think we all want to feel desired and sexy, smart intellectual, snuggly and vulnerable, and everything in between with people we share an intimate connection with.

For the moment though, I actually truly applaud my mother for this post because she helped me find a moment on a really tough day that I just needed to do something for me. I want women with disabilities to feel empowered and sexy, no matter what that looks like to you or anyone else.

Dating, marriage, or finding your person in life is no small feat. It’s a numbers game and it can be a grueling process. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I always encourage people I work with and coach to not give up. I watch so many folks in wheelchairs fight for their lives to, not only survive, but to thrive.  Dating or finding a job or navigating through a complex medical diagnosis is no different.

You may have to go on 20 bad dates, accept that some people will not accept the wheelchair life, but you know what?

What about the 21st date?

It really just comes down to statistics. It’s no different than finding a job and applying to 200 organizations with 150 rejections.

I know many people who do not give up their job hunt or seeing multiple specialists to diagnose a medical problem, why would you give up your dating search?

It’s about constancy to purpose. Maintain a consistent effort, but don’t obsess over it. Life is too short to obsess because we just don’t know how are life plans will change from moment to moment or day-to-day.

Ali and near black-and-white photo with arms in the air leaned back on wheelchair covered up in beach wrap for Photoshoot

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