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Monday, January 11, 2010

Let Go!

I've been told about the phenomenon by various disabled people, but had never experienced it myself until today. The phenomenon of a complete stranger grabbing hold of you without warning, to 'help'.

Today was the first time I left the house since the snow started. It was a very scary prospect, helped a lot by yaktrax. My walking can be pretty dodgy at the best of times, but amidst ice and snow I just haven't been able to risk it. But by today I was tearing my hair out. I needed to see something other than my 4 walls. So, yaktrax and woolly hat on, I ventured out.

It was pretty precarious. The city centre pavements were worse than I'd anticipated, but I did most of what I had to do, then waited for my bus home.

It was when the bus arrived that the presumably well-meaning man grabbed me. From behind. By the shoulders. The jumping-out-of-my-skin which resulted was far more likely to make me lose my balance than any amount of ice, and his holding onto my shoulders was hardly going to help with that.

It was only when he said, "Here, let me help you on the bus" that I knew I wasn't being mugged.

I know, I know, he was only trying to help. But seriously, grabbing a woman from behind is not a good thing to do. It's inappropriate and way too invasive to personal space. And when that woman has a walking stick, which is perhaps why you're grabbing her, you're probably more likely to cause injury than to prevent it.

If you really want to help, just ask. I would have actually appreciated being able to hold onto Mr Grabby's arm to help me on the bus, had he asked if I needed any help. Don't presume, don't grab, don't force a blind person across the road or a wheelchair user down a kerb. If you ask, and they need help, they'll tell you what you can do. And you won't frighten or injure them that way.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Resolve Not to Resolve

It's that date when, every year, people resolve to go to the gym, lose weight, cut out nice food and starve in the pursuit of thinness.

The fact is that you really do not need to do this. You are allowed, as a woman, to take up as much space as you take up. You are allowed to resist the messages relentlessly bashing us over the head from the media which insist that we copy celebrities and hate every inch of our body which is not clinging unhealthily to bones.

95% of diets fail. Their whole philosophy is one of deprivation and undernourishment, which is not something that the vast majority of people can stick to for any length of time. The result being a cycle of miserable starving and bingeing, which feels endless.

The trick is to stop dieting at all. Start to love yourself and your body exactly as they are. By all means do your best to eat well, but banning foods will make them more tempting than ever, and punishing yourself via what you put in your mouth creates a horribly negative relationship with food, and food is something that we have to deal with every day of our lives if we are to survive.

(Cross-posted at The F Word)