Wednesday, November 16, 2011


After reading the first few chapters of Garland's book there was one image that I was immediately attracted to. Its Figure 1.4 on page 8 of Dr. Theresia Degener and Gisela Hermes. In this image Degener is armless and Hermes has prosthetic legs (or as Garland calls it 'delicate' legs). What interest me so much about this image is how natural and comfortable both of these women look while posing on this railing in front of, what it looks like is a park. These women have such a relaxed and peaceful way about themselves in this photo, that it almost distracts you from what we as a culture would consider an unusual or disabled body. What this image does is naturalize this extraordinary scene making these women's bodies seem more ordinary or even common almost;it doesn't make their bodies an complete outcast. Even though these women are not staring back at you in this photo with their eyes, their bodies lend some kind of communication that almost has the same affect as if they were to stare directly back at you.

To agree with what Garland says about this photo, the fact that these women are publicly displaying their bodies expands the rang of the type of kind of ordinary bodies which we often see. It makes this extraordinary image, ordinary. For me, the disabled body is both disconnected and connected to the individual in this photo. This image draws you just to the body and its figure, completely disconnected from who the individual is, allowing you to contrast what this body looks like in such an ordinary setting or background. Then the disabled body is connected directly to the individual, by the ways which both women embrace their bodies, how they look comfortable or relaxed or rather ordinary. I think this is a perfect image to suggest that we should embrace our bodies regardless of how our bodies are socially constructed as being something other than normal or ordinary. These women displaying themselves publicly exposes their hidden vitality. They don't cover their bodies with clothing in attempts to hide them. In fact the parts of their bodies that seems to be disfigured are the places that they reveal the most. Once again, there's this idea of comfortablility and creating an ordinary scene out of an extraordinary image, and both of these women do that not only with their body language but also in the ways that they expose their bodies, not putting on clothing to hide the parts of their bodies which are not 'ordinary'.

Another thing that I think is important to mention here from Garland's book, is that "Staring offers an occasion to rethink the status quo. Who we are can shift into focus by staring at who we think we are not." (6) Often times we use other peoples physical impairments to dismiss our own. Just because you look ordinary, does not mean that you necessarily are. I think that Garland is suggesting something about appearances here, and what the eye allows you to do. Looking allows you to perceive, judge, compare, relate or not relate to other poeple, but why are physical impairments things that we so often prey upon instead of the flaws or impairments that we have as humans that we can't necessarily see? Our physical make-up is not the only thing that constructs us as humans, or our individuality. So going back to this image, these women have made a political and public statement by just using their bodies. Almost unveiling themselves, uncovering something which we would expect them to hide.

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