on rejection, the worst part of dating

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A few days ago, a friend (whom I met through this blog and who also happens to have one arm) told me about a recent dating experience. Just like I used to do, she tends to hide her limb difference when around members of the opposite sex, so the guy she’d been seeing had no clue about her arm. I encouraged her to be open with him and confident in herself, but things didn’t go very well after the Big Reveal. Surprisingly, he reacted like a complete jerk; he was reluctant to see her arm and basically dropped all contact with her. Not cool. And it’s not the only rejection I heard about this past week.

On the “Women Tell All” special episode of The Bachelor, limb different contestant Sarah Herron spills all about the pain she felt after Sean Lowe told her she was not the one for him. “It’s the worst to be told ‘you’re great, but you’re not good enough for me,'” she says. “I always fall back on, ‘Oh well, it must be because I have one arm.'” It’s a heartbreaking moment as the audience sees Sarah fighting back tears. And it brought me back to the times when no boys wanted to dance with me at parties and my 6th grade crush told me my shorter arm was ugly. So for the sake of honesty here, I’ll confess this: I cried after watching the show. I know exactly how Sarah felt, and I cried for her and for my friend and for myself and for any girl living with a physical difference in a superficial world.

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But here’s the thing that may just shed a little light and hope on this sort of situation – we’ve all been there. Turn on the TV or pick up a book or magazine, and I doubt you’ll have too much trouble finding a scene where a beautiful and seemingly perfect girl with two arms faces rejection from the guy she wants. Rejection is not a phenomenon exclusive to women with limb differences. People get rejected for all sorts of reasons, whether or not they have a disability. I know there are a few moms who read my blog who have young children with limb differences, and I’ve been hearing a lot of worries about their kids’ future love life. All I can really say is that dating isn’t easy for anyone. You will have to comfort your daughter after her first breakup and console your son after his first crush doesn’t pay any attention to him. But the fact is that you’ll have to do that with any kid, limb difference or not.

And when it comes down to it, a limb difference isn’t an automatic deal-breaker for most people. Just because you’re missing a limb doesn’t mean that all guys are going to reject you. It bothers me so much when people tell me or anyone with a difference that there will be a man who won’t be “shallow” and will look “past the disability.” That almost makes it sound as though a limb difference is some horrible deformity that makes you totally undesirable, which is completely untrue. I’m sure there are plenty of guys interested in girls like my friend or like Sarah simply because they’re gorgeous. A missing arm is not something a man should have to “accept” or “look past.”

215637_10151415710297642_1891414064_nI know I’ve been very insecure about my arm throughout my life, but I feel comfortable knowing that my boyfriend loves all of me just as I am. He’s there for me and he’s happy with the way I look, even with messy hair and 1.5 arms. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this here before, but he’s the one who inspired me to start blogging about my limb difference. And it’s definitely made me realize that I’m not alone and that I’m worth loving.

There’s not really anything comforting or intelligent I can say about rejection other than this: it really sucks. But when you do find someone who really loves you and who you can connect with and be vulnerable with, you’ll realize that all the hurts and heartbreaks kind of just fade away. So in closing, I’ll leave you with the lesson Sarah Herron took home from The Bachelor experience:

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Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

 

 

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end-of-year updates

Hello, all! I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas season. I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging as often as I would like, but I’m getting back on the ball for the new year! In the meantime, here are a few exciting updates on

what I’m up to right now:

My new job is going super well! I love working at Current, and I especially like working with my former boss at Oxygen again – she’s awesome. The hours are long and I’m constantly busy, which is why I haven’t had as much time to write, but I’m loving every minute of it!

I’m 21 (as of tomorrow, anyway). I am now officially recognized as an adult and can be served alcoholic drinks at bars and restaurants. Also, I’ve been told this is the last birthday I’ll be excited about celebrating before I start feeling “old.” So we’ll see….

I am now a pet owner! That’s right – I adopted a beautiful Yorkie, the dog I’ve always wanted. I’ve named him Augustus (yes, after the character in The Fault in our Stars). Pictures to come!

 

Okay, so that’s it for now. Tell me: what are your big changes for the New Year?

 

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

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being a good girlfriend

When I was younger, I was obsessed with the show Project Runway. And what girl wasn’t? It was a reality competition series featuring several talented fashion designers competing for the ultimate prize: $100,000 to start their own line and the chance to show their collection at New York Fashion Week. Of course, my impressionable teenaged self decided after the first season that I wanted to be a fashion designer. But when I announced this to my father, he told me it was a stupid idea because I would never be able to sew or make the clothes like a two-handed person. (Yeah, my parents are big believers in “tough love.”)

One of the pockets I sewed up for Chris

Although my dreams of becoming a designer eventually faded (along with my desire to become an actress and my goal to become a lawyer), I have always loved clothes and style. Up until recently, though, I was in the habit of throwing an item away if it had a rip or tear. What was the point in repairing it if I could just buy a new one of whatever it was? My boyfriend is way more practical and money-savvy. So when he ripped the side seam (and both side pockets) in his pants, he turned to me and asked if I knew how to sew. I didn’t, but I lied and told him I did. I figured I’d give it a shot.

The once-ripped/now-stitched side seam of Chris’s pants

And so began my first adventure with sewing. Granted, I wasn’t creating a dress for Versace; it was a simple restitching. But still, I was glad I proved to myself (and to Chris) that my lack of an arm doesn’t mean I can’t be a domestic diva. I’ve read and heard about people saying they wouldn’t be willing to date someone with a disability because of the lack of functionality rather than a more superficial reason. And while I understand the concern, I know first-hand (sorry about the pun) that someone with a physical limitation can still find a way to do almost anything and live independently. So am I concerned about being a good clothes-mending/dinner-cooking/floor-sweeping wife someday? Not at all. I’m already getting my practice. And to be honest, I’m way more nervous about finding a way to balance my career and my home, just like most “normal” young women my age.

 

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

 

(Mannequin photo from Pinterest; other photos my own)
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2 years later

On this day two years ago, my boyfriend Chris took me on our first date and a love story was born. It’s been a crazy ride with its ups and downs, but through it all, we’ve never let go of the love we have for each other. Chris is my rock and my biggest supporter in anything I do. He’s my dance partner and best friend, and I’ll always have his back no matter what. He’s the most amazing man I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and I hope we’re blessed with many more years together.

Peace,

Caitlin Michelle

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style

You know what they say: another day (or week in this case), another discovery. And this week’s discovery was more of a reawakening than a realization. In addition to working on Oxygen’s upcoming fashion-based shows, I’ve been styling my friends and helping them shop for the outfits that I know will make them look best. I’ve always loved shopping and clothes and all that fun stuff that comes with being a girl living 20 minutes from New York. So it’s not like my boyfriend Chris had to twist my arm to get me to help him buy new clothes for the Fall. It’s become a relationship routine of sorts; with every major change in weather, we head to the mall and I pick out some basic pieces and cool accessories to supplement his seasonal wardrobe. He ends up looking quite put-together and handsome, if I do say so myself. This autumn I was going for a sleek look with button-downs, sweaters, and vests (think Justin Timberlake circa 2007), so I was running around the store looking for the clothes and then running back to his dressing room to deliver the next piece for him to try on. Then just a few days later, I hit the mall with my friend Lyss to find her new outfits for Fall. And yes, I must say I enjoyed these shopping outings immensely, especially since I believe that what a person wears says soooo much about him or her.

One glove only

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t love fashion for the reasons that non-fashionistas (is there even a term for people who aren’t into clothes?) may think. I’m not shallow or all that materialistic, and I certainly don’t judge people solely on appearance. But whether or not you’re pretty/plain/rich/poor/disabled/all of the above, you have the freedom to choose exactly how to decorate and present your body to the world. And how awesome is that? As a writer/creative/media professional/artist/20-something/whatever you want to call me, I’m really into personalizing everything. From the background photo of my baby cousins on my iPhone to my hot pink and zebra print bedroom (rawr), it’s all about self-expression. And what better canvas than the body that takes me through every moment and every action to showcase who I am?

Now let’s get one thing straight: I don’t buy into the “ideal figures only” approach to fashion. Having a disability doesn’t preclude me from celebrating the way I look and wearing the clothes I want to wear. And over the past few years I’ve found a handful (haha, I love puns) of ways to highlight and prettify my asymmetrical figure. Sadly, though, the computer that was home to the majority of my photos crashed a while back. So I hope you don’t mind if I post pictures I found on Google or store websites instead of pics of me in the completed looks. Anyway, I type too much. So without further ado:

1) One-Shoulder Tops/Dresses – I LOVE asymmetrical necklines because they mirror the unevenness of my arms and make the statement that strange or different proportions are beautiful. There’s a lot of talk in the science world about beauty and symmetry being synonymous, but this look proves that it’s the unique and the off-kilter that strikes the eye and holds attention.

Subtle but lovely

2) Upper Arm Bracelets/Cuffs – When I’m not wearing my prosthetic hand, I don’t have a wrist on my left arm to wear a bracelet. But I think that arm deserves to wear pretty accessories too, so upper arm cuffs work particularly well. Plus, it’ll go just as great with a party dress as it will with casual jeans and a tank top. If Cleopatra could pull it off waaaaay back when, then I say why not?

3) Opera Gloves – Yes, they look super fancy shmancy over the prosthetic and paired with a cocktail dress, but I think it’s also pretty cool to wear just one on any given day. (Note: For me, it started for practical reasons rather than as a fashion statement. The “skin” on the prosthetic was easily stained by ink on newspapers and books, and I hated how it looked “dirty” so I just wore the glove over it.)

4) Grecian/Roman Goddess-Inspired – The famous Venus de Milo statue has long served as a standard of beauty for all women, in spite of AND due to her lack of arms. So it’s always fun to channel this icon with a Greek/Roman-inspired piece or full outfit.

So there you go – just a few ideas on how I like to use clothes and style to my advantage. I hope this has been an interesting post. And I promise I’ll start taking more pics of what I wear so I can post them on this blog. Do you want to see more style/fashion content on this blog? Let me know what you think.

Peace,
Caitlin 🙂

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