TO: Men all over the planet
FROM: A very strong-willed woman
RE: Theories about your aversion to my disability

I recently sat flipping through my old journals. I immediately stopped when I got to a particular entry. it was from sometime during my high school heyday and my teenage self matter-of-factly wrote something along the lines of:

Guys just don't like girls in wheelchairs. Or with any sort of disability, it seems. 

It read back to me like some sort of socially agreed-upon law like the sort that easily rolls off your tongue (First Amendment, anyone?). It was, or at least in my eyes, the sort of social code everyone had memorized, and I probably (OK, I'm certain) didn't think twice when I wrote those words.

But hasn't that always been my whole problem? For most of my life, I've been living out that law in some form or another: I have trouble talking to guys because I know all they're looking at is my wheelchair. I think a guy will think I'm the craziest girl for having the audacity to flirt - or even ask him out on a date. I sometimes wonder if any man would ever, could ever love me. The fact is, quite sadly, I've never questioned it. Any of it. I've even become so concerned with how men can't seem to look past my disability that I've completely neglected that other equally important question: WHY? Isn't explaining the possible reasons behind something even more important than the actual something, whatever it may be?

So in an effort to gain some sort of genuine clarity on the whole situation, I've devised these 'working' theories. Silly boys, maybe this will explain some things for you...

They're ill-informed: No, I don't have cooties and no you can't catch it by being around me. I have a physical disability called Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome (Google it – I dare you). It's basically a bone and muscular disorder (I think walking and running is highly overrated anyway....). There actually aren't that many of us, so it's probably best to scoop us up now while supplies last. I've had 26 surgeries to correct bone and muscle deformities, and I just celebrated my 10-year-anniversary of NO SURGERIES; though, I've always fancied the idea of a guy sitting by my hospital bed and holding my hand. A teardrop for added effect is optional, of course.

They're intimidated: Even I'll admit that I can be a lot to take in at first, so maybe that's sort of scary for guys. I think a lot of times, people expect me, a pint-sized person to have a personality that matches: diminutive, reserved and soft-spoken. When - HELLO! - they realize that I'm the exact opposite, it may throw them off balance for a bit. And of course, I'm not going to sit here and pretend like my wheelchair is invisible. Trust me, I wish it were invisible and not me who's invisible. I won't pretend like my wheelchair doesn't make them uncomfortable, at least at first. Maybe they don't know what to say or maybe they're afraid they'll say the wrong thing. But FYI, men, JUST PLEASE SAY SOMETHING! ANYTHING! I promise I won't break or bite. Really.

They assume I'm not interested: Maybe they see me, a girl who has been through her fair share of medical escapades, and figure I have bigger fish to fry. When your life is at stake, I admit, guys are about the last thing on your mind. And when I was younger and going through all those procedures, guys weren't even on my radar (well, except for a certain boy, but that's a whole different story). So why is it that now I'm ready to get out there on the single's scene, all the guys have ducked for cover? Sometimes all I want in life is the simple, medical-free, adventures.

They don't know me: Maybe they don't see that I'm just like every other woman. Some of my favorite things include, but are not limited to: Columnist, journalist/writer, blogger, Looking for Mr. Right (or his cute twin), collecting Chiquita banana stickers, breaking loose on the dance floor (and oh yes, it can be done from my wheelchair), glossy magazines, keen observer, sassy, sarcasm, oogling the CW’s Supernatural boys, obsessively reciting Frasier quotes, alphabetizing my CD collection, sipping a sweet soda pop, swimming, laughing, dreaming of life in the big city, leaving a hint of mystery behind me, being an absolute dork, perfecting my British accent, dreaming of my own reality show, daydreaming, smiling, being fierce.

Oh, and I also love to laugh. I play a mean game of Yahtzee. I can make small talk stretch for hours. I could just be the love of their life....I'm just saying.

So in case you've forgotten today's lesson by now: WOMEN WITH DISABILITIES DO DATE. IN FACT, WE'RE PRETTY GREAT AT IT.

The next time you see me, just come up and say hello. You never know where that might lead….


Melissa Blake is a writer and blogger from the Midwest. She writes about her physical disability on her lifestyle blog, So About What I Said, and even though she's only 4-feet tall, she's never been afraid to squash those gigantic stereotypes that cross her path. She loves to smile and has also been known to overshare. 

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