I am not blithely grateful for poor treatment and I won’t accept the bare-minimum of accessibility and inclusion. My love for myself is revolutionary. This essay contains discussions of ableism and self-harm By Imani Barbarin I was 10 when I first came across
Frida isn’t a commodity, she was a person who fought against materialistic consumerism.As someone who has spent almost 20 years studying the life and art of Frida Kahlo, I’ve mused for hours over what her doll version would look. Here’s the Frida doll I’ve imagined: Since she spent so much time in a wheelchair due to illness and so many surgeries, her doll would have to come with one as an accessory. Accessories would also include a back brace, body cast, and washable paints so you could draw on her as she did herself. Her right foot to knee would be detachable, and modeled after the red boot prosthesis she designed and painted herself. Her clothing would be ethically sourced from the same villages she commissioned them in Mexico and would be an entire line all of its own to accompany the doll, as well as a variety of hairstyles and headdresses. The doll’s eyebrows would be thick and meet in the middle, and she would have a shadow above her upper lip. Underneath her elaborate outfit, Frida’s doll would be criss-crossed with a variety of scars across her legs, pelvis, belly, and back; Frida suffered her entire life and her avatar would need to represent all the physical pain that inspired and informed her art. The doll would come with a booklet explaining all of this, and would be written in a way that encourages people to go learn more about her rather than just consuming her image because she’s hip now. But since we can’t have nice things (ever), Mattel created the exact opposite of a doll honoring Frida Kahlo. Instead of looking even a little like Frida, they have made her into an actual Barbie. Her unibrow is softened as are her striking features, and there is no evidence of her disabilities at all. In a nutshell, Frida has been grotesquely whitewashed. Having been a fierce Communist until her death, she would despise this consumerist and capitalist "tribute" to her life and work on so many levels. Everything that Frida did in her self-presentation eschewed Western standards of beauty. She refused to pluck her brows or wax her face; she didn’t shave her underarms or legs. She rarely wore makeup and instead focused on layering away her pained body under handmade textiles from remote villages in Mexico, almost single-handedly bringing some of these traditional weaving methods back from cultural extinction.
I’m not sure when the government will look at its disabled citizens and see us as people that deserve the same quality of life as everyone else.By Jazmine Joyner I have been disabled for nine years, and I have been unable to work a 9 to 5 job for four years. Like millions of people around the world, I live with invisible illnesses like ME (aka chronic fatigue syndrome), fibromyalgia, tactile allodynia, and osteoarthritis in my spine. All these illnesses make it difficult to do daily things able-bodied people take for granted like showering, dressing, making food and driving. It wasn’t alway this way, as I get older my symptoms get progressively worse. When I was younger I could hop out of bed go for a run, shower, make myself breakfast and go to my part-time job. At times this routine would be difficult to maintain but even when it got difficult I was still able to go to work. When I turned 23 I reached a tipping point — one day while prepping for the department Christmas party I sneezed and dislocated my spine. Yes, a sneeze sent me down this downward spiral. I couldn’t walk and the injury sent my fibromyalgia and ME into overdrive. I had to cut back on work, and eventually, I had to stop working altogether. I lived with my mother at the time, there was no way I could afford to live alone on the meager pay I received working part-time. I tried to live on my own at 21, I lived in Atlanta while I was going to school full-time. I had to find a way to pay my tuition, all while trying to maintain a sense of health, and I failed. I got sick from the stress of everything, and couldn’t work or go to school. So I couldn't pay my tuition and I came home, deathly ill and with my tail between my legs. I have never been able to financially take care of myself. With my limited mobility and health, the capitalist society we live in wasn’t built with people like me in mind. I applied for supplemental security income (SSI) four times to no avail. I was told my work experience was lacking, that I wasn’t disabled enough for government assistance. With every letter, it was another failure to acquire the independence to buy my own medicine and attempt to take care of my own basic living essentials. My self-confidence dwindled and I fell into a huge depression that I am still fighting today.
Welcome to Crazy Talk: a mental health advice column written by yours truly, a mentally ill and queer writer reclaiming his “crazy” to educate and empower. In a world that tries to push us to the margins, I’m all about
OCD is as debilitating as any other mental illness. May is Mental Health Awareness month. As someone living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), I think this month is the perfect time to set people straight about what this disorder actually is,