This blog post by Kaley Roosen was published on December 10, 2013 by the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC), a Canadian non-profit providing resources on eating disorders & weight preoccupation.
When I was in the 10th grade, like most students, I started thinking about what I was going to do after high school. However, unlike many high school students, I was concerned about who was going to help me get ready every morning once I moved out of my parents’ home. I have muscular dystrophy, a progressive muscle wasting disease that impacts the muscles in both my legs and arms. I had been just two years shy of using a wheelchair at that point. Going from standing to sitting all day, I had gained some weight. And weight gain for a disabled woman, I learned, was not an option.
At first it was my doctors. They warned me that my parents would not be able to lift me all my life and that I would have to find a new way to transfer from sitting to standing. This scared me. Terrified me! If no one would be able to lift me, how would I ever leave the house again or use the washroom? Then there were my attendants, who frequently made comments about my weight and how difficult it was to help me. The thought of not being able to move out on my own and go to university also terrified me.
Because of this, I started to diet, but like with any diet, especially for a person who can’t exercise, it didn’t work so well. I had to keep cutting out more and more in order to continue to lose weight. And I did lose weight. As I did, the compliments grew. But, they weren’t the compliments that you would expect. I wasn’t told that I looked better in my clothes: I was told that it was so much easier to lift me. I wasn’t told that I appeared to be healthier: I was told that it was so much easier to help me pull up my pants. The compliments weren’t about me, rather they were about how much easier I had made it to help me.
For the entire blog post: http://nedic.ca/blog/whose-body-it-anyways
Kaley Roosen (M.A.) is a Ph.D. candidate in Clinical Psychology at York University. She lectures on topics concerning weight, disordered eating, and body image. As a woman with a disability, she has focused much of her advocacy & clinical work, teaching, and research on connecting scholarship from critical disability studies with psychology. Her current research examines eating and body image concerns in women with physical disabilities.
For more on Kaley’s research: http://www.soroptimistfoundation.ca/grantwinners/grantwinners2012.html#kaley
National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC)