Reflection of a Woman

In Everyone has one, Opinion by Sofia Brenes

Growing up with O.I. made me realize that I was different from everyone else around me but at the same time I didn’t care of how others perceived me as. My short body and shiny wheelchair didn’t faze me until I entered high school.

I guess many can say that high school was an eye-opening experience to the “real world” because that’s exactly what it was for me.

All of the sudden I became consumed in putting on make-up, having the latest fashionable clothes, dying my hair, and doing everything possible to look the best that I could.

It wasn’t until later that I figured out why I went to such lengths to look better and it wasn’t for the sake of trying to be like everyone else.

I was subconsciously trying to conceal or make up for the fact that I was disabled. I used to think that by putting on makeup and wearing revealing clothes it would make others, primarily guys, look past my most obvious “defect”.

I was always in and out of relationships throughout my high school years because having a guy say I was beautiful made me almost believe it myself and when I didn’t have a boyfriend, I felt like the most undesirable girl in the world.

I can’t exactly pinpoint where my drop of self-esteem began but it probably had to do with the fact that I was in many unfaithful relationships and I had this gnawing feeling that I had to compete against all the gorgeous able-bodied girls out there.

I graduated in the summer of 2006 with honors and great, life-long friends. I deferred a year and a half off of school to get some surgeries out of the way before I began college.

I took this opportunity to not only to heal my body but also my inner self. Why did I possess such self-hatred? Did I become engulfed in society’s ideals of beauty?

I guess I did and I had to pull myself out of it. I faced the dreaded mirror everyday and said out loud what I loved about myself and little by little, I started to see myself in a new light.

All my insecurities slowly started to wash away and I began to love myself again. I finally started college this January as a pre-med major. I was all patched up body, mind, and spirit.

No longer did I need a man to feel worthy but I must say guys love confident women and I’ve had two college boyfriends, thus far. I still have my bad days like everyone else but the trick is to not let it get to you.

Society’s narrow perception on what type of woman is considered beautiful and “normal” has always puzzled me. Do we all have to be 5″7, 120lbs, thin, and with long-flowing hair to be considered worthy?

Many of us fall into this trap and start blaming ourselves for things that are out of our control. We should stop focusing so much on changing our physical appearance and concentrate on the root of the problem, society.

How are we suppose to change how people view disabled individuals if we can’t even accept ourselves? For years I blamed myself for not being nearly “perfect” and tried to compete with everyone else.

This is a lonely and depressing road to take, so don’t let it happen to you. If you think that losing just little more weight and having this particular hairstyle will improve the way you view yourself then you’re fighting a losing battle because every time you will want to tweak or change one more little thing.

If you are falling down this slippery slope, stop and work from your inside out. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look attractive, especially to the opposite sex, but don’t let it consume every aspect of your life.

Once we become confident, the opinions of others will fade away and be replaced with genuine happiness.

Dating is a controversial topic for many disabled women. The type of guys you pick as potential boyfriends is directly related to how you feel about yourself.

I’ve been in many stressful relationships, dealing with infidelity and verbal abuse. I always wondered, “Why me? What’s wrong with me that he won’t treat me right? Is it because I’m not as good as an able-bodied girl?”

It took me a while to realize that it wasn’t ME it was the image of myself that I projected off to guys.

Men can sense insecurity and lack of self-esteem, which in a way compels them to walk all over us and do as they please because we are expected to be too weak to fight back.

As the old cliché goes, “You must first love yourself before loving anyone else.”

Women usually roll their eyes at this but it’s true! Once you determine your own self-worth and love yourself regardless of how many or little guys say that you’re beautiful, men will start appreciating you more.

The same rule applies to men seeking stable relationship with women! Self-conscious girls attract jerks that aren’t worth building solid relationships with.

On the other hand, confident girls don’t need men to validate how they feel about themselves and this radiating form of independence allures mature, trustworthy men.

Take your pick on the kind of woman you want to be but you can save yourself from a lot of heartache if you choose to improve your self-esteem.

Disabled women face adversity everyday in the image department. The long stares, whispered comments, and the not so subtle pity tone in the voices of strangers is enough to bring anyone down but we must learn to move past that.

We are survivors of challenging diseases and injuries and we must be proud of the strength we all have inside. We don’t need to be ashamed of who we are but show the world that we are just as beautiful as the next girl.

Think of how boring the world would be if we all looked exactly the same.

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