#DisabledAndCurmudgeonly 

I’m busy today. Really busy, but now I’m also full of words and need to let them out. It’s a productive form of procrastination.

This hashtag #Disabledandcute, crossed my Twitter feed. I was only popping on for a moment, just to fill the time between here and there. 

At first I thought “that’s nice”. Because that’s what I generally think about everything. Then it started grating on me. Just gently.

People aren’t built the same as me. They value things for different reasons. “Cuteness” has always been a wonderful thing, to be infantilised and cherished and looked after.

I’m not cute. I don’t want you to get me wrong, I am lucky enough to be conventionally attractive, I’m tall and slim and mostly symmetrical. I go in and out in all the ways that people say I should. But I’m not cute. I’m a grown up woman. My puppy is cute. My toddlers can be cute. I’m not. I’m sarcastic, I’m practical, I’m striking at times, but I’m not cute.

In some ways it’s a beautiful thing. People with disabilities sharing their images of disability in a positive way. Maybe I’m curmudgeonly and disgruntled. I’ve never had a lot of gruntle. 

I don’t usually interfere when people are having harmless fun. I’m not the person pointing out the flaws, or ruining someone’s KitKat by pointing out the evils of Nestle.

I certainly don’t judge anyone who joins in. I want them to have that confidence. I want them to feel great about themselves, whoever they are and whatever they look like.

But still there’s this undertone in there. I don’t want anyone to think I’m cute. I never have. I don’t need anyone to tell me I’m beautiful. 

Is it the autism? Is it the logic? Is it that people rush to save the cute species and the ugly ones can be crushed underfoot? Is it that it feels like people would only care and help, if we could just fit ourselves into a certain category? They would not kill us if we were cute, we would be safe. Is it that the image of autism is always the cutest and saddest of children?

Now I feel like I’m slipping into hyperbole, because I am. But it niggles. There are angles beneath the superficial that make me itchy. 

I’m not cute, but I’m worthy. I’m worth being kept safe, because I’m human. I’m beautiful because I’m kind, not because of the fluke of nature that gave me high cheekbones.

It makes me feel alien again, and that’s ok. I never expect the world not to make me feel alien. 

No one is better or worse because of arbitrary genetics. 

I go round in my head; if it makes people feel better then it has value, but it could make other people feel worse, so it doesn’t. There is no right or wrong, there’s just thinking about it. 

I contentiously pointed out that I’m not cute. People worry when you do things like that, they worry you’re negative about yourself. Don’t worry! I love how I look, I love how I move and am happy with who I am. Physical beauty just isn’t relevant to me. It’s not valuable. It’s fleeting. It passes us all by in the end. And when it does, we are still worthy. All of us, cute or not. 

So share your cuteness to your heart’s desire, or sit with me on the grumbly chair, or do both. I’m just letting the words out so they can scamper away and I can get on with being busy in peace. 

22 thoughts on “#DisabledAndCurmudgeonly 

  1. I once sat on a bus with a girl I knew. We were on our way to lunch. On the bus was another girl I knew. I saw this girl a few days later and she said “oh how do you know her? She was in the same mother and toddler group as me. She’s pretty, I would definitely go on a night out with her” !!! and !!!!!!! and !!!!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s certainly how I see the word “cute”. It’s not something you would usually use to describe an adult. It’s reductive in that sense.

      Cute is belittling in a way. It doesn’t feel like it’s treating people as equals.

      But I’m sure others would interpret it differently and just see the positive side.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cute is diminutive. It’s for small(ish), infantile or young, soft, weak things. I don’t like it being used for any non-child enduring oppression or disadvantage because it sort of invalidates whatever power that being might possess. Sort of like the southern US “bless your heart” expression that actually translates to a backhanded insult. Not that ‘cute’ is an insult. I just think I’m on the same page as you in having difficulty accepting it as an awareness or empowerment tool.

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  3. I’m not autistic so I can’t speak to that, but I am disabled and disfigured, so this really speaks to me. People will occasionally tell me I look cute and it never feels legitimate. Symmetry, thinness, and beauty are valued, and I’m none of those things. I often feel ‘cute’ is not really about saying cute per se, but means to me “You did a decent job with what you have”. It feels like pity. And I would love to believe that all of these people on social media really believe it when they use the hashtag #Disabledandcute and are really nice and are celebrating genetic anomalies as beautiful. Unfortunately I fear it is more about virtue signaling and not wanting to be the only one to not celebrating the cause du jour. For example, the tweet going around of the Downs Syndrome date going viral https://twitter.com/ThatGuyJigg/status/830265298846679043 . I want to think people are really that kind and it’s not just pity, but I have not encountered pity or worse in day to day life. And it’s never about beauty, it’s about ‘cute’. People in reality never say someone disabled is hot, sexy, beautiful, handsome, etc, and if they do, people seem to assume some kind of fetish. #Disabledandcute seems to be no different than saying a cat missing a leg is cute. It’s cute, but the other half of that is “Poor thing” aka pity. And no one is going to the pet store asking for a three-legged cat because they are the cutest cats. Pet stores would be full of them if people were. I hate to be pessimistic, but life experience has taught otherwise. I want this sooooo badly to be a sincere movement about accepting people with physical deformities as just as valid and just as human as everyone else. I have not had that experience in life and fear the world is accelerating towards a place where physical perfection at birth is the only acceptable standard.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for sharing. Yes, I completely agree on all counts. I would also love this to be genuine, and I’m sure that for those posting it is, but that doesn’t mean they can control how it’s received.

      Beauty and cuteness and image and fashion are all weird to me. They’re valueless. The only purpose of beauty is to attract someone if you want to, but physical beauty alone isn’t enough for that, you need a “personal” beauty too.

      It’s such a cliche to say that it’s what’s inside that matters, but that’s what is real. That’s the bit you get to take with you into old age, if you’re lucky enough to get that far. When you’ll be ignored because you’re no longer young, and we only worship youth and beauty for some strange reason.

      There was a # a while ago which was great, it was something like #therealfaceofautism and had loads of people, all different, showing themselves doing different things. There was no value given to “cuteness”.

      We need to be moving away from a fixation on physical perfection. The world is a worse place for it. If we valued the right things – kindness, honesty, generosity – then this place would be amazing.

      Thanks again, you’ve given me a lot to think about.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for this, I liked the idea of empowerment that people got from #disabledandcute but like you I can’t see myself that way and I suspect that nobody could. I’m not sure what word I would use instead of cute though? Isn’t it enough to be #disabled and confident in yourself. I don’t know, if I’m honest it hurts my brain thinking about it sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Cute” is subjective. I can’t put my finger on it, completely, but my experience with cute is that it is a term of endearment. My wife calls my son and I cute all the time. She truly means it as a loving thing. I, myself, don’t like being called “cute” much for the same reasons you and your readers have mentioned. But for some folk cute is positive. Let’s not rob them of that reality.

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    1. Completely agree that everyone is free to interpret it however they want.

      Like i said, I have no problem with anyone getting involved and getting something positive out of it. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth discussing the wider aspects of it, and the negative interpretations too.

      For some “cute” just means “pretty” or “sweet”, for others it is more specifically used for something that is young (like a puppy or a child). In the U.K. it’s usually the latter definition. It’s slightly patronising and often used to dismiss.

      Disabled people have been fighting to be treated as adults for a long time. To me language is important and worthy of the discussion 🙂 a lot of it comes down to what individuals value.

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are so right. Words are important. They can mend fences or they can destory lives. I wholeheartedly understand how the word “cute” can be disingenuous. I am disable myself and perhaps that has a bearing on my not wanting to be called “cute”. But I will always try to let others express themselves as they need. Then again, I am not one to let a moment of discussion to pass by either. If I feel I need to interject some “wisdom” to a conversation I am more than happy to open my mouth. Haha. Thank you for your honesty and your logic. It’s a messy world out there and I am so glad to find a person like you who has their head on straight. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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