makeup] was a conscious effort on my part to reject all of that sighted stuff.
(Boadicea 46-51 years)
Although Sara spoke positively of her self-identity, she was conscious that contem-
porary society remains transfixed by physical appearance. Gill (2001, 353) refers to the
insider experience of disability as “a persistent and disquieting sense of mistaken iden-
tity,” where disabled people find the identities they have forged and present to society
are dismissed by others in favor of stereotypical identity ascriptions:
differently, and my friends that are really my friends are the ones that are really clued
up: they see the other person that I am…. I don't mind that I walk differently, I just wish
they could see who I am, I'm proud of me, every inch of me, I just wish they could get
away from the superficial stuff” (Sara 41-46 years). Laura echoed such claims: “They
sayyourimpairment shapes you,andIdon'tthinkIwouldwant tobeadifferent person,
you know I'm happy in my skin now, I'm happy with who I am” (Laura 46-51 years).
It would appear that the adoption of positive self-identities enable disabled women to
challenge and to counteract the negative identities and stereotypes imposed on them by
others (Swain, French, and Cameron 2003). A positive self-concept is often in conflict
as being nice people or whatever, or courageous people, but I don't think that at first
glance would think of them as being dating material” (Sara 41-46 years).
onments, where sex is on the agenda (Shakespeare et al. 1996), her presence was peri-
pheral. Although she shared the space, she was not regarded as sexually equitable: “I
wear lipstick, I wear everything. And they still think you're a wee girl. Because you're
in a wheelchair, I'm a young child. Because I'm in a wheelchair” (Gow 2000, 164).
Socially relegated to childlike status, sexuality is considered to be inappropriate or
absent. Despite her best efforts to counteract the asexual identity imposed upon her, this
young woman was acutely aware of her asexual status through a complex mix of social
responses to both her body and her wheelchair.
Leslie, a participant in Watson's (2000) study, noted a change in her sexual status
when she acquired an impairment: “meeting up with guys and things like that—that vir-
tually has not happened since I've become disabled” (Watson 2000, 147).
In the highly sexualized social scene of Western culture, perfect, glamorous, and
beautiful bodies are welcomed, celebrated, and sought after as sexual partners (Limaye
2003; Gillespie-Sells et al. 1998). Disabled women's bodies are not regarded in these
terms; rather they are not considered to be sexually available, akin to the manner in
which pregnant women's bodies are regarded as sexually unavailable (Longhurst 2001;
Watson 2000). Disabled women are similarly placed off limits in terms of sexual avail-