When I became paralyzed I continued to post pictures of myself on Instagram. I did not feel shame about moving around in a wheelchair. It happened, life goes on. Other aspects of being disabled worried me more. One thing that no one told me about is the 'devotees' who are turned on by women (or men) who are disabled (paralyzed).
I got messages on my social media accounts from guys who said to be attracted by my paralyzed body. I've never heard of something like that and I felt disgusted. As a young woman who recently became paraplegic, I was trying to deal with this big change in my life. The last thing I wanted to hear was that people were turned on by my disability, the thing I hated the most. Since I was active on social media I kept receiving messages and I kept ignoring them. I considered deleting all my social media accounts. I was not asking for any of this!
At some point, I've had an online conversation with one of my followers and after a while, the person revealed to be a devotee, an admirer of paraplegic women. I realized I would keep getting this attention if I wanted it or not. I experience they often use profiles disguised as other girls in wheelchairs or use anonymous accounts. It got me wondering why these men (and women) are attracted to the disabled (paralysis). So I asked.
The fact that "The legs don't walk." and the disabled person "Struggles daily to dress" can be triggering. "Seeing you struggling to make transfers because the legs don't move." And
"Knowing you are not being able to control or feel." are examples that have been given. I guess people can be attracted to anything. I don't think there is anything wrong with it but this is definitely not common. And that makes it harder to accept. Foot fetish and BDSM I have heard about. But being 'attracted to paraplegic women' was nothing I could ever imagine.
Here to stay
My curiosity won and over time I've had a few conversations with people who are attracted to the paralyzed (parts of the) body. I started to see the people behind the fetish. These are just individuals with a very particular interest/attraction. Now I accept that it's out there and that I will be exposed to it as long as I stay active online. As I am a lot more confident with my situation, my body and my disability now, I don't worry about the 'presence of devotees' online anymore.
To be or not to be
I asked about why they use anonymous accounts. It's because they are ashamed by their own attraction, or worried someone might find out. Once a devotee told me "In a way, it's like being gay." Another one told me "I don't like to be called a devotee, it's just a preference, like a person can be attracted to blonde hair or big boobs."
Since it is still a big taboo they keep it to themselves. And some of them shared with me that they suffer because they can't be their true selves. The devotees are not all creepy lonely people. Some are married and have kids. Some are successful in business and some are still teenagers. I try not to judge the way I did before. You live and you learn.
There is beauty in everything.
I am open to talk about my disability and all that comes along. Also about this.
I think these 'devotees' or 'admirers' need to 'come out'. Hiding behind the anonymous accounts on the internet will continue to creep people (like me) out.
Mutual respect is important. "The few rotten apples that are disrespectful have ruined it for other devotees, who are actually friendly and good people." a devotee wrote me."Can you please share this is your blogs because it needs to be shared."