Inclusiveness in terms of Body Image

Just a piece of homework that gives insight into who and what I am. 
For those who are interested.  

OSU – WSGS 223 /Week 4

Textbook:  “Engendered Voices, Feminist Visions” By Susan Shaw and Janet Lee
Readings: Chapter 4 Introduction and Readings 26, 28, 29. 

Page 158

     I don’t live anywhere near OSU.   There is no way I can take a tour of the campus.   I am wondering what I can look at instead.  I come from a family of short women.  I’m the tallest in a few generations, today standing at 5’3.  I have shrunk, I used to be 5’4”.   So, I will look at the home(s) I have seen and see if there are ways to accommodate short people, as well as people with handicaps. 

My assumptions of course, are that all buildings in the world, especially those in the United States are designed with much thought in mind.  That all sorts of situations are taken into account.  Doorways should allow for wheelchairs and walkers, and also the possible large furniture that might come and go.
Stairs should be wide enough to accommodate at least a “normal” sized person (whatever that is).  A door stoop should not only have a guard rail to help hold you upright, but the whole area should be big enough to accommodate those extra-large people.  These are all things that I’ve noticed either at my house or at someone else’s house. 

     It has come to my attention how much difference one little inch can make to some people.  My mother, in her prime was 5’2”.  She’s probably now 5’1”.  I have two daughters who proudly let people know they are “five foot nothing”.  Thank goodness for one daughter, shortness is her main physical problem. 

    I learned that my mother can no longer reach her overhead kitchen cabinets comfortably.  My sister wants her to move to a place built specifically for older folks—shorter older folks so she can reach what she wants. 

     My daughters are constantly complaining about having to ask for help or jump for something on a shelf.  I constantly hear how being short is just the worst thing in the world.    The shelves at the library are too tall even with a stool sometimes.  The top of the grocery store shelves are way too high for short people.    

     I hate to say it, but my guess is that mostly men came up with these designs over the years.  Most of them I suppose tower over me.  Someone needs to sit them down and ask them to please keep short people in mind when they draw up their blueprints!

      I was looking at a photo of a tiny home yesterday.  Against one wall was a flight of stairs.  The first thing I noted was the lack of banister.  I am a registered and well known “bull in the china shop type” –clutz is my middle name.  Not only were those stairs not wide enough there was nothing to hang on to.  Being taller won’t cure that problem.  But, with an enlarging population making the stairsteps smaller seems just silly to me. 

      My shortness isn’t even really all that short, but I can’t stand on a small ladder and reach our fire alarm to change the battery.  My house has storage areas I’ve never been able to reach on my best days.  For such a small house, 940 square feet, & 2-bedroom one bath, this house has the widest hallway I have ever seen in my life.  I’m not the biggest person in the world nor am I the smallest. But if there is one thing, I do like about this house it is the wide hallway where I can cross paths with a 5’9” man and not worry about running into him or the wall.  If the house were not designed so poorly in terms of making things easy for people, I’d wonder if the hallway was made that way for people in a wheelchair.  But truth is, only if they are housebound.  There is no comfortable way to get anyone who either can not walk or even is having trouble walking out of the house easily and safely.  Unless you want to put them on a gurney that waits outside the door, and let others do the walking for you (been there, done that, got to ride in an ambulance too).

Page 169 – Expanding on Body Image.

This one is going to be so tough.  I am 5’3”—with light brown hair and working on going grey, blue eyes….and white, white, skin.  Well, except the tan parts. Which to some degree seem to be permanently tanned?  Mostly my arms.  My idea of a perfect body must be me, 37 years ago.  When, I was 20.  I had quite the figure back then. Of course, I did not know it.  I thought I was ugly.  I’ve said many times, I wish I knew then what I know now, life would have been way, way more about taking chances, and not settling for anything less than the best (by my definition of course!).

I am supposing that for at least American men, my ideal body image would probably fit their idea of the ideal as well.  Not so sure what women would like.  Which seems odd considering I am one of those animals. To build on that silhouette and make it more expansive and diverse would probably to build either a body by collage, or to put at least 1,000 people of all sizes and colors in one room and then call it “a body”.    There is that old saying, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”   My made-up body would include male and female, black, brown, white, yellow, red and every shade in between of people.  I’d like to add here, there would be no race in my little dream world.  We all bleed red…we are all one big family.  The perfect body would be short and tall, large and small, size 16 shoe all the way down to size 2! There is beauty in every single phase of life: the beginning, the end, the middle and every tenth of second in between.  So, I would include the young, the old, and all the middles.  Sky blue, ocean blue, pale blue, green eyes, brown eyes, grey, and hazel – red eyes just in case someone’s are bloodshot!

Reading about the Transgendered and the medical and mental health issues they’ve had to jump through during all those years (Page 217).  Had I known it was a thing when I was a kid, I’d for sure —surely shunned being a girl!  I hated it.  I hated me.    I can give you a laundry list of why today.  But, back then as 7, 8, 9, or 10 years of age….all I knew was that I did not want to be me.  Had I known I had a choice I would probably be known today as transgendered.  As it stands, I think now, I met my first transgendered persons as a young adult, working in a grocery store in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Two men obviously dressed as and acting as women with makeup and EVERYTHING.  They were super sweet people, but to my ignorant eyes, super-duper weird too.  What would be wrong with teaching kids that it takes all kinds to make the world go around, and that it’s ok to love them all. 

There is something else that I want to include.  That most people probably would never think about.  Although it’s probably more in the conscious of people now than ever.  I add this because of very personal experience.   About 5 years ago a song hit the airwaves, “Scars to Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara (Links to an external site.).  I listened to that song over and over again when I discovered it about three years ago.  I could not believe my ears.  The young lady could have been singing about me. 

There are a lot of people out there who go through a lot of different situations in life.  Some people are scared on the inside—a broken heart, an angry spirit, a brew of sadist tendency made by a life of abused childhood.  Yet, some of those people can be quite beautiful in ways we may need to look for so that we can include them in our idea of expansion of body image.   Because what goes on in the mind surely affects the outward looks that we see in our gaze… large, small, short or tall. 

Then there are those who are imperfect, and who hide away.  Or are pushed aside in the name of keeping a child’s mind free of the ugliness of life.  Or pushed aside because it’s just too damn ugly.  Scars that can be seen from the outside.  Someone who has a big scar across their neck or face from a car wreck.  Another who lost a leg due to being with his/her squad while their vehicle met up with a land mine. Or loss of two legs due to disease.   The loss of an arm due to an industrial accident.  How’s about those people who breathe through the hole in their neck because of smoking cigarettes… is there not still beauty in those ravished bodies of theirs?  I think there is.

And last but not least, back to Alessia Cara.  There are people who cut themselves with knives, and other sharp objects.  I’ve seen scars on wrists, legs, and arms.  There are so many, MANY ways to “self harm”.    Some people, including myself, are scars literally from head to toe.  These people need to know that they are not ugly, and that they do not need to hide away.  They need to be seen as beautiful as any other person in this world.  To be conscious of that and to welcome them into your world would be one of the biggest steps to acceptance that either person involved could ever take.  It could help them both be a better person.

Just a Note:   About the “selfie.” (Reading 26, Page 190) I have been on Facebook probably for 12 years or more.  I have NEVER posted a selfie.  I didn’t like them.  (I don’t like my photo taken either)  I thought they were self-promotion and basically saying, “Look at Me” for selfish reasons.  What is funny is though I saw them that way, I never saw the people who posted them that way.  I was inspired today, by learning that for some people that selfies and blogs (have had one for years) are simply ways for people to feel included, or to help them make connections.  It was a comfort to read that in pretty straight forward language a selfie could be seen as a form of “celebration of life.”  I’ve tried to make it a ‘thing’ in my life to remember to celebrate life.  Our time is limited and God or not, I see it as a miracle of one form or another.  So, I really believe in the celebration.  So, while I was feeling inspired, I took my first selfie.  I posted it to Facebook, and let everyone know that I could do it because 1.  I was having a good hair day and 2. Despite my age, I was having a good face day too!!  ?  

Just me! (Again)

About PeggyAnn

Professional PC Consultant, Researcher, & avid people watcher, Peggy Ann Rowe started into her genealogical quest at age 15 after watching the mini-series, "Roots" with her parents. This new obsession has fueled her love of history, & study of cultures & societies in every epoch. Today she is 57 years old with four kids who are all grown up (& all have flown the coop). In between her 'gigs' with clients she volunteered at many different non-profits. Former President, Secretary, and Director at Large on the board of the Douglas County Historical Society for 10+ years, and former Secretary at the Cloverdale Historical Society (Sonoma County) for nearly 10 years. This website is an attempt to share the knowledge she has gained about her family ties with others who may be interested in the same things. She does not guarantee 100% accuracy and does hope that you will send corrections. To learn more about her, click the "about" button in the page menu. Thanks! Another goal of this website is to disseminate a message (i.e. education) about domestic violence, child abuse, and all forms of sexual abuse to society at large. The message comes from real experience from the whole spectrum of the violence from sexual abuse by a perpetrator to sexual abuse perpetrated by a husband, to the abuse of children within the family. Peggy has seen it, lived it, and been hurt by it. There will on occasion be details that might be hard for some people to read, and a warning is usually posted at the beginning of the essay so that those who want to turn and not read may do so. The only way to teach and to let others learn what to avoid is to SHARE what happened with every detail necessary to make the point. Thank you.
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