Tonight I watched the Dateline NBC segment about teenage plastic surgery with a lot of interest. I will not comment directly on the children who were the subjects. However, I do have experience with the subject as they described it – being born a little different than most people. I realize that being born without a hand is different than the subject of the show, but the core of the issue is closer than you think. To me, the real core is ‘are you happy with how you were born’? And to take it a step further ‘is society telling you that you should not like the way you look’?
Everyone has things about them they don’t like. It could be their height, it could be their hair (or lack of), it could be their build. It could be anything. Some things can be changed – and maybe some things even should be changed. That beer belly you have? Well, even though you may be proud of it and it is well earned, at the end of the day it is not healthy. And sure, you can get a rug and/or plugs for your hairline…but the stretching machine from the dark ages is certainly not in style anymore. So where is the line? And more importantly, who is creating the definition of the line? And lastly, do we as people who are considered different need to tow that line? The last thing I want to do is preach about where the line is. That is exactly what I feel is part of the problem – people preaching about where the line is as though it is a fact. I would, however, like to share my own experience with the ‘line’ and outline some of my own life choices that may apply.
I was born without a right hand. There, I said it – it’s out there for all the world to know. Wow, what a load off my mind! Well…not really. Why not? This is where I do share some similarities to the people outlined in the show. Simply put, all you need to do is take one look at me and you know. No need to come out of the closet, because there is no closet I can hide in. Keep in mind that if I chose to hide it, I probably could. With today’s technology, I almost certainly could. However, the choice I made ions ago – so far back I cannot remember – is to be “me” physically.
That choice does come with repercussions. Everywhere I go, there is 99.99% chance that I will be the only one like me in the hand department. (And yes, that is seat-of-my-pants math, but I’m sure you get my point.) If you are under the impression that people like me don’t catch you staring, you are wrong my friend. I get stared at constantly. I also hear the mumbles and my kids notice as well. But here’s the thing – I love it. I own it. When kids are being kids and ask their parents out loud “Mom, what happened to that man’s hand”, I think it’s cool. Simply put, I have no issue with being stared at, mumbled about, abilities doubted …whatever. No issue at all. Again, I own it.
In today’s society, people are led to believe they should look a certain way, feel a certain way and act a certain way. For a man, they are led to believe they should be tall, dark and handsome. They should have an athletic build, a full head of hair and dare I say, two hands. I guess two out of three ain’t bad. But please remember you are in control of the ‘line’ as much as anyone else is. Being comfortable with yourself and how you appear is vital to your overall happiness. Chasing what others deem acceptable is a zero sum game.