A couple of weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to get together with a bunch of burlesque dancers in Toronto and create a very sexy, sensual music video to Demi Lovato’s “Body Say.” It was to raise awareness that people with a disability can – and deserve to be – a sexual being just like everyone else. It was also to show those with a disability that it is possible to feel sexy and confident.
People with disabilities are usually not seen as sexual. A lot of people from the general population don’t think we can even have sex or be a good romantic partner. When guys or girls look at us, we typically don’t register as a sexual being.
Now, this isn’t just my opinion. According to a journal released in 2015 on disabled-world.com, about 50 per cent of adults with disabilities don’t have any form of regular sex life – and that’s not for a lack of trying.
My self-esteem in the dating area is significantly low, though I never really show it.
I have been struggling with this since Grade 10. High school is tough, but it’s the time where you’re supposed to be figuring everything out and experiencing a lot of firsts. I experienced none of that. No guy ever gave me a compliment. My first crush never even talked to me in the halls. In fact, he and his friends even bullied me online. But, that’s a story for another day.
Looking back, that’s where it all started. I was dying for someone to notice me, but that never happened. Not in high school or even in college.
I didn’t even realize I was bisexual until I was 20 years old, when I fell in love with my best friend who is a girl. Due to my lack of experience/knowledge, I became so confused about my feelings and my sexuality that I eventually needed to see a counsellor.
Whenever I started to like someone, it would hurt, because I knew that I would immediately get “friend-zoned.” I feel too much, so I could never try and ignore my feelings or “go with the flow.” So, I would either struggle through it or run.
I started to get scared of feeling again. I mean, it makes sense after being rejected so much.
About a month ago, I started feeling depressed because my “dateable” self-esteem dropped tremendously. I don’t know why or how, but it did. One of my good friends and I were talking about this issue of society’s views on sex and disabilities. I mentioned basically everything that I’ve written about thus far.
Dateable self-esteem: A term created by Danielle Sheypuk. It differs from regular self-esteem because a lot of us feel good about ourselves and our lives, except when it comes to dating and sex.
I pitched the idea to my friend that we should do this music video.
I decided that I was going to break free from the stigma, and that I was going to show myself and others what I was capable of. No one was going to believe how serious I was until they watched this video… Nothing was going to hit them as hard as proving it to them.
I had no idea that I was even capable of feeling that sexy until I did.
This project that was just supposed to be my friend and I turned into something bigger. Seven burlesque dancers came on board with the same mission in mind – to make me feel confident and to educate others.
I know there are negative stereotypes when it comes to burlesque dancers, but my burlesque friends are amazing. The dancers made me feel so amazing and so comfortable before, during and after shooting the video. They didn’t make me do anything I didn’t want to do. They still continue to support me – and we’re doing another video in the summer.
I’ve received so many positive comments. I had people – even people I never expected – message me and tell me how much they loved the video, how awesome it is that I did what I did, and how much they support me. All the positive messages I’ve received blew me away and left a big smile on my face. I am so thankful for these comments.
But I have also received some negative comments. A few people think I shouldn’t have made the video, it was too much, and that I should stop.
For those who think that, I could see where you might think that. But you have no idea what it’s like to be me. I have to work twice as hard for everything I do. There’s a reason behind everything I do.
If I didn’t dress like that, act like that, dance like that, would people have gotten the same message? No, probably not.
I wish you could see my joy, as many people said I looked happy. And I was genuinely happy. I feel more confident now and more comfortable in my own skin.
Also, I’m a performer of many types. I consider this a work of art and I am proud of it.
But that also means that I acted. On a normal day, I wouldn’t wear those clothes, make out with people I just met, or have multiple people stroke my body at the same time. That is not my personality.
Did I enjoy it? Yes, it was a fun project to do and I am going to do another one.
The positive support is completely outweighing the negative support and I am forever grateful for those who have been there for me during these tough times.
Special thank you to my baes for making all of this possible. I love you guys so much! Can’t wait til we meet again.
It was a huge dream realized!