the disabled body and postmodernism

It all goes back to things like the sculpture of David by Michelangelo, or other classical images of bodily perfection. Art has been, by and large, obsessed with the idealised human form – blond hair, blue eyes, muscular men and slender women. It has, for many centuries, held these up to be ideal examples of the human form. Even Christ on his cross was always painted as somehow handsome.

Yet, slowly, I think this is changing. In this post-modern era, there is no such thing as thee perfect human, so art is no longer concerned with producing images of bodily perfection. And that’s where people like me come in. my body is not perfect or beautiful; it moves in unusual ways, arms and wrists jutting out at odd angles. Yet I am just as much a human as anyone else. Hence, mine is, in a sense, a post-modern body.

Just as postmodernism is being embraced, just as old values are being torn down, so other forms of beauty are coming forth. My girlfriends body is the perfect example – in previous times, people like Lyn and I would have been thought of as sub-human; her body was masculine, but now is feminine; it transgresses ideals of gender and disability. Lyn does not conform to any classical, modernist ideal of beauty, yet she is beautiful. Hers is a post-modern body, an exemplar of this brave new world; it is astonishing, fascinating, and to me utterly insepiring.

The subject of the disabled body and postmodernism could be deallt with over several thick volumes. I’ve only just started to think about it. I’ll probably return to this subject soon.

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