On Sunday, Tobyjoe and I watched Murderball a documentary film about a certain form of rugby in the Paralympics. The film is mesmerizing. The filmmakers follow the lives of three people very closely and a few others peripherally. The three main characters are pretty outstanding.
I realized something about myself while I was watching the movie. And I’m not proud of what I’m about to admit. The best I can do is say I’m a little proud of the fact that I’m about to admit it at all. During the movie, I kept saying, “Wow, that guy is really good-looking.” Or, “His girlfriend is super cute.” I said and/or thought this a dozen times while watching Murderball.
The fact that I called to realize this at all, is a little unnerving. A lot of the men in Murderball sustained spinal injuries leaving them confined to a wheelchair. Some suffered from a rare blood disease leaving them without limbs. They’re perfectly normal human beings. They still eat, drink, laugh, dream, have sex, masturbate, and cry. They’re totally and completely human. Why, then, do I feel compelled to realize that they’re attractive? Why would it be any other way?
It disturbs me what we consider to be “normal” and “beautiful” during this day and age. Who makes these rules? Who deems one as popular? Who defines what is considered normal and therefore acceptable? Why must I realize that someone without an arm or a leg can be attractive?
Conflicted, I watched the movie trying to overcome this realization which was born completely out of judgment. It occurred to me that I have met hundreds of perfectly “normal looking�? people who are so much more ugly. I have witnessed horribly unappealing people on the subway as they scowl and snort at those who accidentally bump into their “normal” bodies. I have met nasty people while driving. I meet unattractive “normal” people every day
– and strangers and friends – people we all might, at first, look at and tag as perfectly normal.
I’m so sick of what we consider normal, popular, safe, and understood. I’m tired of being shallow. I’m sick of assumption. I’m sick of complacency. Most of all, I’m tired of my being afraid to tell the truth.