Some days, I feel like being as pretty as I possibly can be. I carefully put on make-up, straighten my hair and tie it up, put on earrings, and choose my outfit (most often a pair of tight jeans that flare and a tight shirt with a cute jacket). If I’m feeling really ambitious I might even paint my nails. On these days I also tend to listen to loud music while driving. Hey, I’m a 22-year-old, it comes with the territory. And when I’m driving, it’s a bright and tiny yellow car.
And then I get The Looks the moment I pull into a spot. Of course, you see, I’m always pulling into a disabled spot if I can get one. I always make sure my tag is clearly displayed before pulling in so no one thinks I’m parking illegally, but that doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. I always seem to get a ton of glares.
I guess I don’t look disabled. But really, what does disability look like?
I won’t lie. I feel a bit of glee every time I open my car door and begin assembling my wheelchair. Those same people who were just glaring at me tend to look away content that I’m not just one of those lazy youngin’s. I often feel like ‘ha, you didn’t believe me suckers.’ And then I stop and think, ‘What if my disability wasn’t obvious? There would be no aha moment. No proof to please the masses. Would those people who glare at me, then harass me as well?’
But looking disabled is a rather strange idea. Sure, I use a wheelchair, and to most people that screams DISABLED! But there’s nothing stopping able-bodied people from using wheelchairs as well. There’s nothing stopping them from using canes or crutches. When I’m sitting on the couch, if you can’t see my wheelchair or crutches there’s absolutely nothing that says ‘disabled’.
You can’t see the CRPS in my body any more than someone can see my asthma. If you’re a respectable doctor, you might be able to see symptoms of both, but you can’t physically identify it just by looking at me. But just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
So, do I look disabled? At times. But certainly not all the time. Does that mean I’m only disabled part of the time? Of course not! That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
It’s about as ridiculous as the nicer I look when I go out, the more glares I get for parking legally, as if being disabled somehow meant that we can’t look good.
The next time you see a pretty young thing pull into disabled parking spot with a tag or license plate, give them the benefit of the doubt. And please, don’t sit there and watch to see if they pull out a wheelchair or anything. That’s just creepy.