negative comments – a response


Today I received a lovely little gem of a comment about my “dating game” blog post from last week. Lest I ruin the sentiment by paraphrasing it, I’ll include the comment in its entirety below:

“It’s wrong write someone off as a shallow jerk b/c he or she won’t consider a relationship with a person who has a deformity/disability. You get a lot of ppl who tell you it doesn’t matter only b/c it’s the pc thing to do. But I saw one of your full body pics. So the fact that you’ve had only one serious relationship proves my theory. I even showed your pic to my little bro who said you were hot. When I revealed your deformity, he immediately wrote you off as a possibility. Unscientific, I know. But he’s not into you. That’s cool. That’s just the way he is. You can call him a shallow jerk but know that he volunteers his time at an animal shelter and entertains residents at a local nursing home by singing Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin songs to them. I know it sux b/c you were born this way, but that’s the way it is. Just play up your assets and hide your liabilities. Besides, you already found someone new.”

Normally I would ignore and delete negative messages like the above, but this one just seemed so accusatory that I thought it best to respond. This woman (I’m presuming it’s a woman because the name, which I’m 99% sure is an alias, is a female name) assumes quite a few things about me that are blatantly untrue. So I thought maybe I could clear a few things up for her:

1) I did not mean the phrase “shallow jerk” as a blanket statement that applies to all males who do not date a girl with a limb difference. When I wrote that “not all guys are shallow jerks looking for perfection in a girl,” I was being hyperbolic. I don’t actually think the world is filled with guys who are looking for perfection, which is a good thing because perfection doesn’t exist in any girl, regardless of whether or not she is disabled. I apologize if you took that as a personal affront to your brother, but I can assure you that that wasn’t my intention.

2) I’m not a fan of political correctness either. I try to keep it real and be honest on this blog, so I’m not going to sugarcoat things. I do feel that physical attraction is important when it comes to relationships, but I don’t think that a physical difference necessarily precludes attractiveness. There are a lot of physically disabled people out there who are happily married, and I highly doubt their spouses chose them out of pity or for their personalities alone.

BJM5ZilCIAADxyG3) In terms of looks, you can’t win them all. I remember watching an episode of the Tyra Banks Show years ago (yes, I used to watch that religiously after school) where she said something along the lines of ‘I’m a supermodel, and even I can’t get any guy I want.’ And that’s the truth. People have “types” that they usually go for. One of my best guy friends almost exclusively dates brunettes, and another friend only likes Latin men. I’m flattered that your brother considers me “hot,” but he’s entitled to writing me off in favor of someone with two hands. Is it a little shallow that he thought I was pretty until he found out about my disability? Sure. But it’s his prerogative to date whoever he wants to date, and I can’t blame him for that. I’m also very picky when it comes to who I date. That’s perfectly understandable.

4) While my disability may have something to do with it, I doubt it’s the main reason I’ve only had one serious longterm relationship in my life thus far. I think my initial lack of a love life can probably be traced back to the fact that I went to an all-girls high school and was extremely sheltered by my parents. So for those four years, I think I can count the number of boys I knew (including the men in my own family) on my fingers. I’m not even exaggerating there. I only started dating when I got to college, and I entered into that first relationship when I was 18. I’m now 21 and, while I was single, had no shortage of dates. I turned down my fair share of guys, and I continue to do so now that I’m seeing someone and am no longer single.

5) I’ve never met your brother (at least I don’t think I have), so I can’t vouch for his character. I’ll also point out that doing charity work does not automatically mean that someone is a good person. I mean, I know it’s an extreme example, but O.J. Simpson used to donate a lot to charities. And we all know how that turned out, right? Good for your brother that he finds fulfillment in singing Frank Sinatra for the elderly. He may very well be a good person, and I wish him well. Frankly, I don’t care that he wouldn’t ask me out because I wouldn’t want to date someone who has a problem with the way I look. And who knows? He might not even be my type anyway.

 

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

 

(images found on Tumblr)
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why you should embrace your limitations

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Last week I happened upon a great TED talk by Phil Hansen, a talented artist I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of before watching the video on YouTube. I don’t want to give the whole speech away, but Hansen basically talks about a tough point in his life when his hand developed a neurological shake and threatened his art career. Instead of “overcoming” (I hate that word for so many reasons, but that’s a completely different topic) his disability, though, he “embraced the shake” and made the bold claim that personal limitations are actually what drive creativity. Seriously, watch the full video. This guy is rad:

Inspired by Hansen’s talk, I thought about my own limitations and how they can be beneficial to me in some way. I grew up in a very artsy/literary family, so I like to think I’m a creative type myself. And I think having a disability, specifically my limb difference, has been an asset for me in that sense. When you have a physical difference, you have to search for new ways to perform ordinary tasks most people take for granted. I don’t tie my shoes the way two-handed people do. And the same goes for playing guitar, pulling up my hair, opening a bag of chips, typing on a keyboard, and a million other things that probably wouldn’t even occur to you. It’s as if I was forced to be creative from the second I was born.

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Bruce Lee by Phil Hansen, painted using only karate chops

I’m not an artist like Phil Hansen, at least not in the same capacity, but I do use my creativity in many aspects of my life. I put a lot of my ideas and channel my different ways of thinking into writing fiction, which I love to do as a hobby. And I’ll admit that my quick thinking has helped in various situations and experiences.

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Virgin Mary by Phil Hansen, created using peanut butter and jelly sandwich slices

Ultimately, I think the beauty of Hansen’s statement lies in the fact that it doesn’t just apply to people with disabilities. We’re all a part of the human experience and are all therefore limited in some way (most likely in many ways). So if there’s one thing I’ll take with me from this brilliant talk, it’s this, which Phil Hansen puts perfectly:

“Learning to be creative within the confines of our limitations is the best hope we have to transform ourselves and collectively transform our world.”

Embrace the shake,
Caitlin Michelle

 (artwork images from Phil Hansen’s website)
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getting back in the dating game

d817c98d4cec328f029b8b4e6718c8c9Hello! It’s been a while, huh? I’ve now finished up my thesis and graduated college with a degree in English (which my dad likes to joke is about as useless as a payphone nowadays). And as I mentioned briefly in my last post, I broke up with my boyfriend of two years. It was my first major breakup and, although I’ll admit that it was tough adjusting to a life without someone who was so much a part of me, I’ve been okay. I’m a survivor (sorry, emotional stuff typically makes me break out the cheesy adages).

Anyway, I’ve learned that one of the worst feelings to deal with is the anxiety that accompanies a newfound singleness. Soon after the breakup, my mind was flooded constantly with troubling questions: Did I get what I deserve? Will I be alone forever? What if no one else wants me? I know that these are fairly normal questions young (and clearly melodramatic) women face. But I  had one more thought that wouldn’t cross most girls’ minds: would guys still be attracted to me when they saw my artificial left arm? I knew that guys could be attracted to me, of course, but I just assumed that took time for them to get to know me as a person and get over the shock of my arm. I never believed someone could be into me and my looks (complete with the robot hand) before getting to know me.

c7bb4876cbe032c86f34e6e10a71f678My theory was that a prosthetic limb serves as an automatic turnoff to any normal red-blooded male. However, said theory was proven incorrect a few weeks ago during a bus ride home from work. It was mid-April so I was wearing a light sweater, but you could easily see that the hand was fake and not very humanlike. The man in the seat behind me thought it was a good idea to swing over to the open seat next to me and strike up a conversation. He started by asking about my arm, so I thought he was just another curious busybody wondering what “happened” to me. But when I was finished explaining, he stuck around and kept asking me questions. By the time we reached his stop, he was asking for my number and trying to make plans for our next meeting.

I never did go out with him, but the experience served to ease my worries. Here I was, being approached on a bus by a random (and yes, cute) stranger trying to flirt with me despite knowing all about my limb difference. And while I could probably write the incidence off as a fluke or a one-time thing, I can tell you that that was not the only time it happened. I’ve come to realize that the world of guys and dating is not as scary as I used to think. Not all guys are shallow jerks looking for perfection in a girl. And a perceived flaw like a limb difference doesn’t immediately preclude a man’s attraction to a girl. I don’t know if it’s my smile or my walk or the way I wear my hair on certain days, but I’ve come to understand that something appealing or interesting about my person almost always outweighs the shock of my very different-looking arm when it comes to dating. And  that’s sort of a beautiful thing.

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

 

And in case you were wondering, the answer is yes – I’m currently seeing someone new now.

 

 

(images found on Pinterest.com)
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