I love the new ‘This Girl Can’ campaign from Sport England, It’s massively empowering, and in the mists of a pretty rubbish January, where all this Wonder Woman wants to do is polish of the last remaining Quality Street, in between naps and Netflix binge It actually made me want to do some of this thing they call fitness.
If you haven’t seen it, here it is:
It doesn’t show skinny, tanned, condescending Barbie Dolls who look immaculate. It shows sweaty, blood pumping grit and determination to not necessarily get the size zero emaciated look but you get the sense that they want to feel better about themselves, to look nicer, not for a certain person but for them. So they’re not living with self consciousness, but are in fact happy in there own perfect skin.
With one half of my body, not fit for purpose and half of me looking like a potato, it is hard for me to pick out anything I’m overly fond of and when it comes to clothes, nothing quite fits right, something which I talk about in a blog I wrote last year Fashionably F**ked.
I know that the root of all this is partly to do with my weight and the fact it’s become clear I am fatter than I’d like. I don’t feel confident in clothes when I have to dress up smart. It’s like dressing a hippo and when I am dressed up smart. It isn’t long before I’m uncomfortable and end up in the loo taking my tights off
Disability doesn’t make you feel lady like, and being larger than you’d like makes simple things like transferring from chair to bed or chair to car far more difficult than it should be. I don’t want the tanned, toned body that the gym bunnies have, I just want a body that isn’t struggling to cope with disability and a layer of fat. Simply put I want to be a Girl that Can.
Disability and Sport have enjoyed a happy marriage since London 2012 and when ‘The Superhumans’ trailer made its debut onto telly, I have to admit it was the first time I had ever felt like my disability was cool, it was empowering to see disabled people, who have been through some of the toughest challenges, whether their disability was acquired or not, and yet, there they were being a bad ass, not wanting pity, just wanting to compete. It makes me feel proud to be disabled.
People were, quite rightly memorized by the achievements of the Paralympian’s, and since then the number of Questions I get ask through sheer awkwardness, isn’t ‘Isn’t this weather awful?’ but now more ‘Do you do Sport? Those wheelchair races are amazing’. While this is fantastic, that we’ve moved on to more social conversation starters. It makes me feel lazy, because my answer is always ‘no’. I wish I was up for sport, I’d love nothing more than to dribble a basketball rather than dribble longingly at the donuts in the Supermarket but I hate exercise, People seem to think that because I’m in a wheelchair, I’m a fitness freak.
The trouble is it’s a bit all or nothing with disability sport, you can either choose to do nothing or at the very least the bear minimum or you can join a disability sport club, whatever it is you’re interested in there is a disability equivalent for it, Basketball, football, tennis, or for those more adventurous Murder ball. All of which are great, but I’ve never been one to join clubs, I don’t want to join in with an outfit that’s already been established. I’m a team player for most of my life but for me there is something that I don’t feel comfortable with getting fit in a group of people who are also disabled is something I fear.
Most of the Super humans in the advert have a sense of balance and core strength. Balance and core strength is something I’ve never had. It up and left with my legs that worked and like a heartbroken lover my body has never got over it, my spazzy legs get over excited, like a dog that’s been shut in all day when my brain thinks about racing anyone, my mouth dribbles when I over exert my body and I am likely to fart, loudly all the time throughout a work out. I might need Missy Elliot to rap loudly behind me as I work out to distract people from the breakdown my body is having.
That and the fact that I cannot throw for shit and I’m so overly competitive I might bite you if you look like your beating me, I once broke a girls arm, who had brittle bones, in a school game of hockey. Team games aren’t my thing.
So I’d rather do it alone, quietly and steadily, with people periodically mentioning I look slimmer, with no big deal, until I look knockout at a party or on holiday, in a ‘Christ she’s fit’ (in both senses of the word) element of shock.
But if you decide to go it alone, finding fitness that you can do on your own at home is none existent, the Wii was good until I realised that in fact you can just use it with very minimal effort and still get high scores is ridiculous.
There are no DVDs, No off the shelf equipment for anyone who’s disabled. We can’t run, walking up hills is a ridiculous notion, and gyms need to be more accessible. The support for disabled people who want an average fitness regime isn’t there, and I can’t be the only one, who doesn’t want to be a superhuman, training for hours, years weeks without a sniff of alcohol or frightened to have a cake.
I’d just like to be an average human.