In September I spent a week in the beautiful city of Venice.
I loved everything about it. It was so beautiful – breathtakingly beautiful.
Everything was perfect -accommodation – weather – food – scenery – it all lived up to our expectations.
We loved taking the water bus down the grand canal and wondered how on earth did they build this city.
At St.Mark’s square we walked around with thousands of other tourists enjoying the brilliance of the architecture and history.
Visitors from all over the world taking photos, video cameras to the ready, busy recording their experience of Venice. As we sipped our coffee and people watched an orchestra played in the background – perfection.
I looked across the grand canal to the church of San Giorgio Maggiore and it was there that I saw the statue of “Alison Lapper Pregnant”.
In the distance I thought it to be an old Italian statue – there are always bits and pieces missing from them – but something was just not right.
My attention kept going back to it.
What was it?
It is a statue of a woman. She has no arms. She is pregnant. She has short legs.
We were so curious we looked it up on the internet and found it to be the statue of Alison Lapper Pregnant.
I had forgotten Alison and her statue.
I had forgotten Allison’s story.
And what a story.
The fight for self determination
Alison suffers from phocomelia – limb deficiency – and has deformities similar to those of Thalidomide victims.
She was taken from her mother at birth. She was labelled ugly and deformed and at best would live her life as a cabbage in a wheelchair.
Alison lived her early life in the medical disability system, but broke free from the imposed limitations and lived life on her terms.
She lived independently went to Art College and obtained a degree in fine Art. She fell in love – got married – got divorced and had a son. All the usual stuff able bodied people do.
The Prejudices of the able bodied.
From the Daily Mail Interview with Alison
‘We were led to believe at school that no one would look at people like us. We had sex education but there was no suggestion that sex would ever be for us.’
There’s no crime in disabled people bringing disabled babies into the world and I would have been a superb mother for him if it had happened that way.
‘But I am happy for him that he isn’t because he won’t have to cope with the kind of prejudice I’ve had to face.’
Alison had professional help following his birth but soon adapted to caring for a tiny baby.
‘I would pick Parys up by his clothes with my teeth and lay him across my shoulder. I breast-fed him for ten months with him in a sling across my chest. I’ve never been able to hold him in my arms but we’re very physical with one another, so we haven’t missed out.’
‘True beauty has little to do with physical perfection. That is why Venus de Milo is my inspiration. The only difference is that she had two arms to begin with and I was born with none. But we are both beautiful.’
In this world where self image and grooming is so important, real beauty is forgotten.
Let us cherish our human rights and live life sharing compassion, acceptance, equality, independence, respect and freedom.
There is strenght in our vulnerability.
There is growth in our imperfections.
There is security in our compassion.