This is a post that I’ve tried to write three or four times over the last year. It’s a difficult one to cover as it’s opening up more than I usually do. This is not however a post asking for sympathy, just a way to explain a bit about some of the “invisible” effects of AS.
A couple of my friends have posted on Facebook about body image in the gay community. It’s one of the things that I don’t think gets talked about enough, actually men’s body image isn’t talked about in general. We talk about the impossibly high standards set for women (and we absolutely should, they’re often ridiculous) but men are kind of left out of the discussion.I’m not a sociologist, but I have a feeling that this is because most of the body standards are set by men. Or to attract men. Anecdotally, I think that men are more inclined to focus on the attractiveness of a person that we’re attracted to whereas women seem to take a more holistic approach to attraction.
I’m sure that you’re wondering what this has to do with AS. And why I should be posting about it, I mean everyone knows that I’m an almost perfect example of an attractive gay man. I don’t enter the Mr Gay UK competitions because it clearly wouldn’t be fair on any other candidates. (Stop sniggering in the back row. And you at the front!)
Most of the articles that I’ve read on the subject seem to focus on weight and age. But I’ve yet to see one based on disability. As I mentioned a while ago, I’m bent. I’m also really lucky to have a partner whom I love and who loves me back. But if I didn’t, what would happen?
Having a disability, especially a chronic illness, often affects more than just one part of your body. It can cause pain elsewhere, and even if it doesn’t, the fatigue it can cause makes things like trips to the gym difficult. Sometimes even doing your physio exercises is a struggle, never mind then doing additional exercises to build up your body to reach the arbitrary standard set by society.
There’s a big push about “real people” and how everyone has a beauty about them. In particular I’m thinking about the Dove Real Beauty campaign. It says don’t worry about your size, or age, or blemishes. They make you unique. But all of the models they use are beautiful women. When was the last time you saw someone with a visible disability? Sure, some of the models might have invisible disabilities. In fact it’s likely that at least one of them will. But we (as a society) don’t think of people with disabilities as sexual or sensual.
So maybe it’s time to talk about it. Women have the right idea and have started to address it, maybe it’s time for people with disabilities to do the same?