Rosemary (sophy) wrote,

WisCon 40 Panel Write-up Body Positivity and the Disabled Body

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Body Positivity and the Disabled Body
Body acceptance and positivity movements contain some very worthy goals. However, living in a disabled body can make those goals more complex and confusing. Physical symptoms of pain and fatigue can make anyone feel negative about their body sometimes. Some conditions cause drastic and unwelcome changes to the body — making acceptance more difficult. And many disabilities require excessive focus on the bodily condition due to constant treatments, accommodations, and sensations. How do we, as disabled people, engage with body acceptance and positivity movements? What insights do we bring to the table? How can our voices in these movements create positive changes for everyone striving to accept and love their bodies?
M: Elizabeth Roy. Kate Carey, Claire Light, Rosemary / Sophy(gurl)
#bodypositivitydisability for twitter

- Our moderator Elizabeth had a kind of cool intro where she acknowledged having a conversation about disability in an abelist world and advised the audience that it's okay if they have to get up and leave, lay down on the floor, pace, or whatever makes them more comfortable. She also defined some terms and attributed this all to disability activist Lydia Brown. (if anyone took more specific notes - please share!)

- One thing we talked about was skin hunger, with Kate especially discussing how using her scooter seems to cause a physical barrier to touch - people are less likely to hug her, for example. This is a legit concern for people with lots of disabilities - we literally need physical touch. See studies about skin hunger.

- Johanna Hedva's Sick Woman Theory was brought up, especially in regards to intersections of disability and gender and race.

- Also brought up is the book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma with the note that it is "trigger city" because it delves into trauma and it's affects on the body.

- Some discussion about how body positivity campaigns often focus on how a body looks, when what disabled people need is often more positivity about how our bodies feel.

- I talked specifically about the feeling of failing at body positivity when I'm feeling negative about my body and it's symptoms and limitations.

- We got into ideas of curing vs. accepting our bodies as-is and how that's a different kind of positivity, but also how it can be difficult to do a lot of the self-care involved in body acceptance when disabled.

- Claire talked about the Western Cartesian ideas about the mind/body split and about how she finds it important to think of her body as part of herself, not something separate.
-- I countered that while, yes, that makes lots of sense, for me personally I find dissociating from my body when it's in pain to be helpful and that it helps me to take better care of my physical self if I separate it out because very often my physical and mental needs are at odds with one another. For example, coming to WisCon means not taking very good care of my body, but it's essential for my emotional and mental well being. [I thought about this later when taking my body to the hot tub in lieu of doing another panel - like "okay body I'm doing this for you, if you do this other thing for me" - the kind of thought processes that help me to live with my limitations]

- Elizabeth brought up the difference between that kind of dissociation and dissociation due to trauma, and I agreed that doing it purposefully because of pain vs. it happening to me because of PTSD triggers is a totally different kind of sensation.

- Claire had a lot of wonderful things to add about being disabled and a woman of color, specifically with being a woman of color who sometimes "passes" as white and with having invisible disabilities and how those identities can affect one another.

- Kate had some super interesting things to add from the perspective of someone who is dying.

- And, oh gosh, my memory is failing me but it was a great conversation that the audience added a bunch to as well, so I hope some folks will add to this thanks!!
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