The problem I have is not with the participants on the show, it's with this habit reality TV has of placing disabled people in the 'ugly' or 'Other' box.
Shows like Katie Piper's Face to Face, Too Ugly For Love, The Undateables, or Embarrassing Bodies are sending the message that disability means you are wrong.
They're saying that you should somehow be ashamed or embarrassed of who you are, and how you look.
Again, I am not criticising the participants of the show or, indeed, Katie Piper herself, who is pretty awesome.
I think that disabled people and people with skin conditions have every right to wear make-up if it makes them feel like themselves, and if it's what they want to do. And f**k anyone who says different.
Because it's your choice to wear make-up or not ...isn't it?
Not always. You will not know just how little choice you have as a woman in the West until you choose not to wear make-up.
Because I don't wear make-up (except a little nail polish.) And people react like you've told them you're a puppy assassin.
My skin allergies/contact dermatitis mean that a lot of cosmetic products will literally leave me in agony - I end up with what is essentially chemical burns wherever the product touched my skin.
To put it in perspective - severe poison ivy/poison oak reactions are a form of contact dermatitis. Now imagine that reaction with everyday skincare products.
Which products? Well, actually, I don't know until I try them. There are certain chemicals I avoid, but beyond that? It's trial and error.
People's reactions to this vary from accusing me of lying, to saying that I just haven't found the right make-up yet (maybe that's true - but I don't want the pain that comes with finding it, I really don't care about make-up enough to go through that.)
Generally, I now say that I don't like make-up - a sort of half-truth.
That leads to weird looks, but less people accusing me of lying, or trying to get attention, or being lazy (as if make-up is something that must be worked towards.)
I get less people doubting me than I do when I tell the whole truth.
And I know of HR departments who discriminate against women who don't wear make-up to an interview.
Because apparently that shows a lack of effort and/or respect. Even though they would never expect a man to turn up to an interview in make-up (and it might actually go against them if they did.)
Never mind, either, that that's illegal. But who, at the end of the day, would be able to prove it?
But what about Embarrassing Bodies? That's about fixing people, right? And starting a conversation?
No. That show is about putting people on display. If they really wanted to help people, they wouldn't have named the show Embarrassing Bodies; and that's just for a start.
As for starting a conversation, it's probably not the kind of conversation we should be having.
A school-friend once talked about watching Embarrassing Bodies, and how gross and weird one woman's physical deformity was.
She didn't know that I have the exact same deformity - a very slight one, which I've had since birth, and which isn't visible on a daily basis (or to anyone without permission.)
My birth defect is not a big deal.
It'll only become a problem in very specific circumstances.
Honestly, 'fixing it' isn't on my to-do list - especially considering how potentially painful it could turn out to be to 'fix' something which is primarily cosmetic.
I wish I had the confidence to tell you exactly what it is - given everything I've talked about on this blog, it seems kind of silly to get stuck on this - but every time I think about telling you... I just can't.
Partly because of an Embarrassing Bodies episode that I didn't even watch, and the words spoken in that 'conversation' that it started.
Disability is not ugly. Don't make disabled people feel that way.
Nerd Church is taking a break next week but will be back on 23rd April.
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