Do you remember the first time you felt beautiful?
Guys, do you remember that first moment where you felt like the stud in the room? For girls, was it prom? Was it the moment you put on your dress or when you saw yourself after your hair was done? For guys, was it the first time you put on your team jersey and got out onto the field? Now this one might be harder, but do you remember the moment when you stopped feeling beautiful?
It’s harder to see a beauty or a handsome guy when there’s a whole lot of wheelchair in the way. Sure. But does it need to stay that way? The first time my husband told me I was beautiful when we were dating, I didn’t believe him. I was nervous, he was cute and I knew my make-up could not be covering up the volcanoes of breakouts on my face. The day I believed Dusty was when I saw his jaw drop as I was coming down the aisle. I learned my own beauty by believing the compliments and comments at the beginning and then growing to believing in myself. I grew to know, from the respect and love of my husband and finally in my own opinion, I was drop dead gorgeous.
And then I woke up a paraplegic.
I was 21 when the accident occurred, which is a fragile time for a young woman. My growth in having a positive self-image was immediately arrested and I had to start all over. Looking good is one thing; looking good sitting in a chair and being 4 feet lower than everyone else is quite another.
Today, I have no idea if I’m actually beautiful by everyone else’s standards because I don’t understand what people actually see when they see someone with a disability. In my experience, generally people only see my chair when they meet me. It doesn’t matter to me if they think I’m attractive; someone who ignores the person but sees the chair is not a person whose opinion is worth valuing.
No, I have no idea if I’m truly “beautiful” because the person whose opinion I care about, Dusty, still thinks I couldn’t be more gorgeous. And that didn’t change with the accident. So I learned to once again trust in my own self-value and look the way I want to look.
And how do I want to look? I think I’m drop dead gorgeous, so I want to give all those people who stop to look a true reason to stare.