I was recently listening to a woman’s hour podcast, in which the photographer and author Laura Dodsworth was being interviewed along with some of the models from her most recent book. Manhood the bare reality. The book focused on one to one interviews with men and how they felt about their body along side a photo of their penis. This is the second book in the series, in 2015 Laura published Bare Reality 100 woman — their breast theirs stories.
When I got home I ordered both books, as I flicked though them both (I have to confess I have not read them cover to cover.) There was plenty of interviews from cancer survivors or how changing the function like having a child and needing to breast feed changed the persons view of their bodies. I came across one interview with a man who as spina bifida, he stated his impairment disables him when he interacts with society and states sexuality is more complex when you are disabled. I began to reflect on how I feel about my ‘disabled’ body and in particular that leg, the right one the one that causes me all that pain.
Over the years I have explored how I feel about my leg, within poetry and a few years ago for an art exhibition at work. I took a series of photos of my feet in various situations to reflect how different they looked and how I managed different occupations. For this blog I have decided to revisit this idea. As a child I used to refer to it as the ‘dead leg,’ but do I need to readdress my relationship with my leg and embrace it?
Its swollen, bruised, scarred, I don’t have an ankle, it looks and feels odd, its on my mind all the time as every movement I make is a painful reminder its still there.
Some days it tells be to stay in bed, other days I ignore it and carry on regardless, but every now and again it catches me out, with a good pain free day or a day of tears and feeling sorry for myself.
- I hate that in makes me wear flat sensible shoes that don’t go with the outfits I would like to wear,
- I hate that it sometimes stops me from doing the things I want to, need to or that I am required to do.
- I hate that I have to rely on others, during this time.
- I hate having to justify myself to health professionals as I go to yet another appointment that does not solved my problem.
- I hate that people give me advise all the time as if you have not researched it and tried everything yourself.
- Most of all I hate how it dominates my thoughts I feel the need to talk about it all the time — it must be so boring for others.
But these are bad days and there not everyday.
- I love planning out my day in detail to minimise the amount of walking,
- I love a duvet day,
- I love the unique insight into the world it gives me in particular how I look at each new environment, to work out how can I do this.
- I love the comforting conversations its allowed me to have with others,
- I love how it has brought me closer to friends and family,
- I love how it forces me to think differently, and creatively,
- And I confess I love the opportunities it gives me to talk about myself.
I’m not ashamed of my body the leg or any part, it is what it is. These series of photographs help me love the leg again.