At 17, my high school friend Taylor broke her back. Without authorization she became a paraplegic poster child, reiterating her story to friends and entitled strangers alike again and again. Now, four years later, Taylor has a more intricate perspective of the female disabled experience; how the wheelchair can deter potential suitors, the truthful intersection of beauty and disability, and the dehumanization of women paraplegics. Taylor's is not broken -- despite what many people assume -- she is a content woman who exhibits serenity, confidence, and resilience.
This series "Skinny Legs" is the celebration of Taylor's humanness and agency for disability education. The collection was significantly impacted by the ignorant assumptions and learned behaviors toward female paraplegics. Spending time with Taylor granted me a panorama view of the way strangers regard her, ashamed miens or darting eyes. The disabled community is generally assumed as being broken, which is correlated to a lack of knowledge and uncertainty. In American culture, women paraplegics have to actively prove their worth to themselves and society. Collaboratively, Taylor and I worked to depict her relationship with both her wheelchair and her scar. This was pivotal to feature the wheelchair as a vessel of transportation and not as a symbol of weakness. Instead of varnishing her lower back in Mederma, Taylor memorializes her scar associating it with dignity.
"Skinny Legs" visualizes the multi-dimensional experience of a female paraplegic while depicting pellucid layers of self-love, frustration, faith, and mortality. My aim for this collection was to create an intimate storyline from the perspective of a single individual, allowing the viewer into Taylor's existence. I purposefully captured varying angles to demonstrate a fluctuation of growth, emotions, and disposition. These photographs express Taylor's humanness by deconstructing the fictitious notion that she's broken or fragile.
Also on HuffPost: