The Secret Agony of Looking Up

Posted under: Accessibility

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This is my first post on a new ‘blog’.  My old one got hacked and spammed, and pulled down, along with my website.  Now I have these pretty, new ones, created for me by Geof Collis of Badeyes.  They will be barrier-free for people who have all forms of disabilities, including low vision or blindness.   I thought I’d start out with something really light, so here’s my funny response to the age-old question. “What’s the worst thing about using a wheelchair?”

As a disability awareness trainer and  a person who uses a wheelchair, I am often asked for my opinion on the difficulties of being disabled.  I usually answer by explaining the frustration caused by stairs, crowded aisles and non-disabled people who use accessible toilet stalls and parking spaces.  Occaisionally, when I’m in a particularly honest mood, I may mention that it often doesn’t smell very good ‘down here’, especially in elevators!  The frankness of my response usually hinges on the nature of my audience.  I’m likely to be more forthright if I am with friends.  If I am delivering a workshop to clients, I’ll often restrict my conversation to the systemic issues that impact on us generally. 

It’s only with other people who use wheelchairs (and people of short stature or kids) that I dare to discuss the awful, terrifyingly ugly truth: hairy nostrils!  If you use a chair or you’re short, you know what I mean. You are minding your own business in an elevator, or you are in an interminable line at the grocery store, and all of a sudden it happens.  You glance up and find you’re looking up someone’s nose, and the view is undeniably gross. 

 Do these folks never look at themselves in the mirror?  Is it possible that anyone could see such a horrendous sight and not recoil in disgust and embarrassment?

Perhaps they are unable to wield scissors effectively and safely, without damage to surrounding tissues, and that’s why they ignore the very evident problem.  Maybe they can’t tilt their heads back far enough to get a good look at the situation?  Whatever the reason, those of us who are forced to look up at hirsute noses suffer terribly!

 Clusters of hair, sometimes protruding extensively, and often nauseatingly festooned with unimaginable gunk, are hanging down in our line of vision.  If you have the misfortune to be in a conversation with this person, you can’t even turn away.  Where do you look when the view in front of you is horrifying?  Since the worst offenders are usually men, you can’t look at whatever is at eye-level, because it’s likely to be a zipper!  Looking in that direction for too long is likely to cause extreme embarrassment, or create an unwelcome sexual tension.

 Men are not the only offenders when it comes to nose-hair.  If you’re either of short stature or sitting down, and talking to a woman, eye-level for you could earn you the name of a sexist pig or a sexual harasser.  Alternatively, it could also cause the woman to believe that a sexual overture is being made, when that is not the case at all.   What’s a person supposed to do?

 Could we start a groundswell movement (we’re already down here, anyway) to pass a law requiring everyone to keep his or her nostril fur trimmed to invisibility?  What about requiring tiny hairnets or nose-mittens for those who refuse to keep their foliage hidden where it belongs – inside their nostrils?!  It would not be a pleasant task to be expected to provide enforcement of this bylaw – but that is an issue to be settled at a later date.

 For some people there may be a lack of visual acuity that makes it impossible to see what’s as plain as the nose on his or her face.  Perhaps barbers and beauticians could be prevailed upon to perform this essential service?  It would be a great kindness, both to the folks who can’t manage and the folks who can’t stand the view.

 Many of the worst offenders probably don’t realize they are part of this problem.   There’s an excellent opportunity for a clever person to create a new line of greeting cards that would inform the recipient that a trim is overdue.  If that line is successful, there’s a vast opportunity for additional messages to send to people who have bad breath, body odour, or smelly feet.  For those of us who are in close proximity to the nasty feet, or who are unwillingly breathed upon, a format for asking someone to fix the problem, would truly be a breath of fresh air!

1 Comment

  1. Lerainng a ton from these neat articles.

    Comment by Lacey - August 29, 2011 @ 11:46 pm

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