The Stigma of “Disability” in the Beauty World

By in beauty, disability, Meant To Be Lindsey B on November 23, 2020
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I have been thinking about/obsessing over this topic for quite some time and I have honestly started to try to write this blog entry for months but I can never seem to find the right words. I don’t even know where to begin because I feel like people are going to think “Who does she think SHE is to be writing about beauty?” (and maybe they’re right) but this is part of the problem. This has been a topic that has been oddly heavy on my heart these days, so I want to be vulnerable with you all for a minute.

I have always been a girly girl. My entire life I have also heard things like “You’re so pretty for a girl in a wheelchair!” and while that seems like it’s a compliment, I interpret it very differently. When I hear this statement, what I actually hear is “Because you have a disability, you are in your own separate subcategory of beauty because you don’t belong in the same category of your typical, able-bodied peers because ‘disability’ in itself isn’t pretty”. While living with a disability can be challenging, this narrative of being shocked that “disability” and “beauty” can co-exist is very dehumanizing and belittling (even with the best of intentions). This narrative starts very early on and is so ingrained in us that we don’t always recognize it. I really want to see this narrative shift because there are far too many incredible, beautiful people with disabilities who feel like they are never enough. The media, in general, doesn’t help this narrative when they portray the person with a disability as helpless or they make the character’s primary goal to “find a cure”. Let me be clear… I do NOT place judgment on people who want to find a “cure” for whatever it is in their life that they feel needs to be improved. We all have things about ourselves we wished were different but honestly, disability isn’t that for me. My disability has truly brought a lot of incredible experiences and people into my life that I would never want to trade for anything. I also have so many bigger and better things I want to do in my life than just sitting there feeling sorry for myself that I will never be classified as “normal”. I’m just deeply saddened that so many people with disabilities start to believe that they aren’t “enough” if they don’t fit a very narrow definition of whatever is deemed worthy of love or acceptance. Personally, I also don’t want to sit there and focus only on getting a cure or becoming “normal”. I have too many opportunities that would have passed me by if I had only focused on that. I’m not perfect… No one is and that is OKAY. While we’re at it, I am also not helpless, a charity case, or a goblin. I think I am average in many, many ways and I’m good with average but people constantly want to remind me that I’m not average. I’m either below average or above average just solely based on the perception people have of my life with my disability. I also don’t want people to think I am Pollyanna either. I have really bad days just like anyone else. On the flip side, not all of my bad days are rooted in my disability. Some days I just hate my nose or the size of my pores like any other “normal” person. We have to stop assuming that the only options are extraordinary or horrible in general though. We also have to stop setting ourselves up to think that anything less than “perfect” will ever make us feel better. That sets us up for failure too. We have to start figuring out how to embrace who we are, what we look like, what we like or don’t like about ourselves, and then we have to focus on what we can do to be more comfortable in our own skin. I am still personally learning how to embrace my imperfections every single day.

I’m not focusing 100% on beauty with my Meant To Be Lindsey B brand (and I probably never will), but that’s partly because I feel like I still have a lot to learn and I’ve never been someone who focuses solely on one thing anyway. Also, I’m honestly still a bit terrified to try to get more established in the beauty world because I know it can be brutal. I keep hitting mental roadblocks about it because of the narrative of never being “enough”. I love makeup and I want to help make other women feel more empowered and more comfortable in their own skin but I am also still learning how to do the same though.

I actually consider myself well-versed in everything makeup and beauty these days but it’s really hard to put yourself out there when the demographic you “fit into” isn’t viewed as (or the world in general) doesn’t view you or your circumstances as “beautiful”. There is also a part of me that doesn’t want my love for makeup to come across as superficial either though because (to me) beauty really does come from the inside out, but yet I still hold myself back when I don’t really want to for fear of judgment. I know that there is a deeply seeded part of this that screams for me to show that side of myself more. It’s important for me to acknowledge this inner turmoil because I know that when you’re comfortable with who you are on the inside, you are more easily able to reflect it on the outside. It requires you to get uncomfortable first though and that part is terrifying to me.

I recently decided I wanted to apply for a makeup artist position at a makeup company that I love. While I am excited that there is a possibility that I might eventually get this job, it is absolutely terrifying and intimidating. (Side note: COVID kind of messed up this opportunity for me right now because they are in a hiring freeze right now) – Honestly, I can’t stop thinking about this job and what it would mean to me to eventually get this job though. I have so many logistics to work out just to adapt to the environment in a way that not only makes me feel comfortable but that would also help customers feel comfortable too. I have played out so many scenarios in my head of being rejected by the company itself OR being accepted by the company but not by the customers. I am smart enough to recognize how strangers treat me in my day-to-day life and I know this would be no exception. The difference is that I would be getting paid to deal with these comments and misperceptions and (obviously) I’d like to keep this job if I ever get it, so I can’t just “put them in their place” in that particular setting. There is a part of me that has honestly felt majorly robbed of the excitement of the potential of even getting this job in the future because of the preconceived ideas of my life as a person with a disability that I know people will have. Not only would I be judged by my skills but I would also be judged based on things I cannot and would not want to change about myself even if I were to get the job. It’s not like these misconceptions just stop once I get the job though. I have had enough experience in the 35 years I’ve spent on this planet to know that isn’t how it works. I know I would constantly have to prove myself to people in a way that others wouldn’t. I don’t ever want to be put on a delicate pedestal but I also don’t want extra criticism (especially in that environment) because it did take a lot for me to even put myself out there and go for the job to begin with. I just want to be enough.

At the heart of WHY (which is way bigger than any excuse I have), I want to be hired for this job is my genuine love of all things makeup and beauty. I want to empower other people through the beauty world in some way. I also want to be a part of the solution that can help the beauty world become more inclusive for everyone. I firmly believe that the world needs more “real” people to represent them. I also believe that my feelings are something that many other people have felt about themselves. At the end of the day, representation matters. No matter what your background is, everyone deserves and is MEANT to feel good in their own skin. Yes… even YOU!

If there is something that you want for your life, just do it! You will never grow or reach your goals if you let fear hold you back. Also, if no one has told you this today: You are beautiful. You are worthy and you are allowed to BE you and whatever that looks like for you. You are allowed to feel beautiful, even in a world that tries to make you believe you aren’t. Also, as I am wrapping this up, the song “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman just came on, so I’ll take that as my meant to be cue and I’ll leave you with these lyrics. Happy Monday, y’all!

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are
But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown ’em out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh
Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun (we are warriors)
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become (yeah, that’s what we’ve become)
I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown ’em out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh
This is me
And I know that I deserve your love
(Oh-oh-oh-oh) There’s nothing I’m not worthy of
(Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh)
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown ’em out
This is brave, this is bruised
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come (look out ’cause here I come)
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum (marching on, marching, marching on)
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown ’em out
I’m gonna send a flood
Gonna drown ’em out
Oh
This is me

 

    • Angela Piazza
    • November 23, 2020
    Reply

    LOVE IT!! Thank you so much for an awesome article.

      • Lindsey Becker
      • November 23, 2020
      Reply

      Thanks, my friend! I guess that “week off” did me some good after all. 🙂

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