By Rachel Birdsell
Lines are funny things, figurative ones, that is. We seem to be able to lay them down as a society without having a meeting about it and having a chairman of the line committee okay the final decision. The line is just there, as if we were telepathically able to talk with one another and decide that this line should be placed there, and that line should be over there, and maybe another over there.
Lately, I’ve noticed a new line being drawn, and it’s the one between which parts of our bodies are socially acceptable to show in public and which ones aren’t. There’s a trend growing of people showing photos of themselves with their various scars, stretch marks, diabetes pumps and colostomy bags on full display. The argument for these images is that it is empowering for people who may have any of the above. They’re inspiration for children who have Crohn’s Diseases or diabetes. They’re inspiration for women who have been through weight loss, weight gain or childbirth. They’re telling the rest of the world that they are more than their device. They aren’t going to let other people stop them from proudly displaying their stretch marks in a selfie for the world to see. And while they may have a disease or may not have a perfect body, they aren’t going to let it define who they are.
That’s all great. However, there are people who shouldn’t let their hemorrhoids define who they are, but I don’t want to see a photo of them with their butt cheeks spread showing us the ‘rhoids dangling from their bumhole. I know hemorrhoids aren’t as serious as Crohn’s disease, so I’m being somewhat flippant, but where is the line going to be drawn? No one should be ashamed that they have a colostomy bag, insulin pump, oxygen tank, or other device. They shouldn’t be ashamed that life handed them a crap deal in the health department, or that their body may have marks it didn’t have when they were younger.
There are noble reasons for not hiding your physical problems. But, these photos don’t seem especially noble, and it’s because these people aren’t just posting snapshots. They’re purposely drawing attention to themselves in a “look at me, look at me” way rather than in a “having a colostomy bag is total sh*t, but you shouldn’t be ashamed of it” kind of way. I’m not saying that you should hide your scars, stretch marks, bags, tags, assorted physical ailments and their corresponding hardware. But putting yourself and your ailment on display just to draw attention to yourself seems more than a little disingenuous to me, more than a little self-serving, and therefore, invalidates any cry of nobility that may be issuing forth from your lips.
But, no matter which side of the line you’re on in this matter, can we all agree that the line just before people taking selfies of their hemorrhoids is one that should never be crossed?
Rachel Birdsell is a freelance writer and artist. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org