One year on & the world hasn’t ended!

A year ago today Ireland did what most of the world thought was impossible for a ‘Catholic’ country and voted by referendum to legalise same sex marriage and contrary to what the No side would have had you believe the world has not ended and the children are ok!

I am not gay so to say the yes vote had a huge impact on my every day life would be a lie, but I do know what it is like to be discriminated against and be judged for something that I have no control over so to see a minority group that has been treated so badly be ‘accepted’ by their own country was a huge deal to me. Homosexuality was illegal in Ireland when I was born so to see same sex marriage be legalised in my life time was a bit of a ‘miracle’.

To be honest I never understood what the big deal was, who someone else fell in love with or chose to have sex with made absolutely no difference to me. A person is a person. I went to the christening of triplets in Dublin 15 years ago, they were born by surrogate to a gay couple and it was no different to any other christening. There are two parents who were totally in love and so proud of their babies. My family are very open minded probably due to the discrimination and experiences I have had as a result of my burns so why would anyone else’s family judge them? Why would anyone judge them? Even the fact that people had to beg strangers, a whole country, for the right to marry the person they loved was ridiculous! I had watched the Panti Bliss speech about oppression in the Abbey Theatre months earlier and bawled because I identified and empathised so much with what was said.

Watching the whole country mobilise and come together behind such a marginalised community made me very very proud and cry on more than occasion. My favourite memory is walking down Grafton Street one evening and seeing the dreaded no campaigners coming for me, they got a swift fuck off and I kept walking, I tried to be civil by listening and speaking to them for the first few weeks but it made me too angry. Anyone who knows me knows I get very worked up about things I feel strongly about so i had to stop conversing with them. Anyway I went into Stephen’s Green for 5 minutes and when i came back out the No campaigners were surrounded but Yes campaigners holding hands and dancing around them with their rainbows, including a giant Y, E & S. It was hilarious, everyone was cheering and clapping for them. 🙂

UCC-Church-Sues-State-Over-Marriage-Equality-860x450_c

I was actually travelling to America for my brothers wedding on polling day, my flight was at 9am so getting to vote and to the flight on time was very very stressful. Luckily i met someone i knew who worked in the airport when i arrived there with 90 minutes until my flight so I managed to skip a few queues and catch my flight. I’m sure my brother would’ve understood if i had missed my flight as he was upset that he couldn’t come home to vote, I had a few days before the wedding to get another one but it wouldve cost me a fortune!! My yes badge got a lot of questions from Americans on the flight and they were very impressed that the topic was even being considered in Ireland, how they had missed all of the posters I do not know though.

When I got to America the polls were closing and like every other yes voter I was nervously waiting for the count. Obviously not as nervously as the gay community. What if it was no? How could I live in a country that actively chose to deny people a basic human right, who chose to discriminate? I wouldve found it very difficult to go back & live in Ireland if it had been a No. As I said I have been discrimainted against as a result of my scars for the last 20+ years so to have to sit around and watch other people being effectively rejected by their own country would’ve been heartbreaking. 😦

We all know how it ended, I was very very jealous that I wasnt at home for the celebrations but I watched them on TV over in America and listened to how shocked and impressed Americans were. We had finally broken free from the Church and passed what should always have been a basic right. After a challenging few years Ireland finally had something to be proud of! I watched how people cried and thanked everyone who had voted yes and spoke about how happy they were to finally be accepted as equal. I have seen many gay couples walking through town holding hands and kissing over the last year, something i had never seen before.

image

Obviously everything isnt perfect and there are still those who do not agree with same sex marraige and discrimiate against the gay community, hopefully this will change over time. Only a few weeks ago a friend told me how at 28 he had just come out to his parents and they had effectively disowned him, they just wouldnt accept it and told him he was not welcome. He hadn’t seen his parents in months. To me for parents to do this to their own child is one of the biggest sins.

Hopefully the yes vote has had a knock on effect and made people more accepting and open minded to not just the gay community but every minority. To those with disbilities, travellers, different races etc. And also made people realise that people power works and that if people come together behind a cause we can make a difference 🙂 I think it also showed the world that we are no longer a country that are ruled by the church and are actually very progressive and open to changed.

P.S. Happy 1st Anniversary to my brother and his wife 🙂

ireland-yes

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The problem with Inspiration Porn

Sorry to disappoint but this is nothing to do with porn, no nakedness here 😉

The term inspirational porn was coined by disability activist Stella Young (I have attached her Ted talk at the bottom of this post, read it. It explains the issue much better than i ever can) in a nutshell it describes a person who is seen as inspirational solely on the basis of their disability usually for carrying out simple everyday tasks. It is a very difficult term to explain as it raises many different issues, too many to explain in one blog post. It is also subjective, one person may find something offensive that another might not. Everyone is different, even disabled people. Each disabled or disfigured person is different, have different views and opinions- shocking I know!!

I have always hated being called an inspiration by strangers, when I was youngerstrangers used to come up to me in the street and tell me how inspirational I was. They didn’t know me, all I had done was walk down the street. That isn’t inspirational. They were making assumptions about my abilities and life without knowing anything about me. It made me feel uncomfortable and I found it very patronising. I was being objectified.

inspirational.png

Praising me or a disabled person for going to school, having a job, dong every day things assumes that people with disabilities or in my case disfigured are capable of much less than ‘normal people’. If someone genuinely achieves something amazing then I have no problem with the inspirational label but get to know a person first, hear their story don’t just assume by looking at them.

The athletes that take part in the Paralympics or Invictus games are inspirational as they have trained for years and are the best in their field, they are doing something that is not only challenging for disabled people but also for able-bodied people. They aren’t just inspirational for turning up on the day and smiling in their wheelchairs, they are achieving something.

We are not here to inspire ‘normal’ people, to look at me and think well if she can do it so can I implies that I am some how inferior and if I can do it then is obviously very easy. It diminishes and belittles my achievements and how hard I have worked to get there. I went to college, I obtained a degree and masters in law neither of which were easy. I interned in Washington DC and have had 11 jobs in the last 6 years (during a global recession), this was not easy for me and would not be easy for a ‘normal’ person either.

image

Im not here to make someone else feel better about the deal they have been dealt or remind you that it could always be worse. You are assuming that my life is somehow worse than yours or unbearable, that is not true i have a great life, it is different but no less than anyone else’s.

Stating that a positive attitude can overcome anything is also damaging, I know that it has been proven that have a positive attitude helps people recover after accidents and illnesses but not everything can be achieved by being positive. Believeing that i am going to wake up with a normal face does not make it happen. Being positive is not going to help someone in a wheelchair get up a flight if stairs. It diminishes a person’s struggle and implies that it is not ok to not cope, to complain or ask for help, everyone complains and everyone finds life tough, why cant a disabled person?  It makes people who dont seem to be coping as well as others feel guity.

stella-young-1

Another type of inspirational porn are the memes or stories that praise ‘normal’ people for somehow being kind to a disabled person. I have seen many stories from America about disabled people being invited to prom but instead of speaking to the person with the disabiity or discussing disability they all focus on the able-bodied person who invited them to prom like they are taking on some kind or hardship and being selfless by inviting this pityful disabled person!! The disabled person is to be pitied and needs help. Or the stories which praise the partners of disfigured people for standing by them despite their disfigurement, this is patronising and implies that the disfigured person should be grateful because someone is interested in them.

As I previously said if people that know me or know what i have been through and achieved want to call me inspirational that is fine because they are making a judgement after they have gotten to know me as a person not purley on my face.  I do realise that people who call myself or disabled people inspirational are not trying to be cruel but it is enforcing a dangerous stereotype. A stereotype that says that disabled or disfigured people are to be either pitied or put on a pedestal but not never equal.

 

I have attached Stella’s Ted Talk below.

 

Amazing Seaweed

Any of my friends will tell you that I am constantly trying new alternative treatments (my Mam usually discovers them then talks me into it), whether it is a new cream, a healer, new laser etc. I’m willing to try anything once because there is only so much modern medicine can do!

Most of the treatments I try are new, modern (expensive) inventions or techniques but I tried a very old, traditional, relatively cheap one a few weeks ago. Myself and my Mam went to try out seaweed baths in Sligo, I did have a seaweed bath years ago but I can’t really remember it. I have always known that seaweed was meant to be good for your skin but the thought of sitting in a bath of seaweed didn’t really appeal to me but I thought why not?!

A few days later we got into the car and drove over to Strandhill (2 and a half hours away). When we got there my first question was do they get rid of the spiders in it and yes they do! 🙂 We were brought to our own rooms where you spend 5 minutes in a steam shower to open up your pores then spend 45 minutes in the seaweed bath which is very slimy as a result of the gel from seaweed emits. Now i didn’t really enjoy the bath because sitting in seaweed is not my idea of a good time and I am not very good at relaxing but my mam said it was like ‘heaven’ (her words not mine) so it depends on the person. 🙂

Seaweed is known to have amazing healing properties as it contains a huge amount of minerals especially Iodine. It helps to promote skin elasticity and intensely moisturises your skin and hair, encourages liver activity and increases your metabolism. It also helps your body to eliminate toxins and impurities. It is good for your thyroid, circulation, psoriasis, eczema, arthritis…… basically it is amazing.

I noticed an improvement in my skin straight away, burns lose elasticity so are very tight and can be dry because the pores are damaged so the body’s natural moisturiser and temperature regulation (sweat) don’t work properly but my skin felt softer straight away, instant relief really. When I woke up the next morning I noticed a huge difference, my skin was soft, supple and nowhere near as tight! I was in shock at how good my skin felt and looked 😮 I went straight online and ordered a seaweed face mask (which also works) and seaweed to use in the bath at home.

A few days later my skin was back to normal so I will be going back for more seaweed baths, if they were closer I would have one every weekend. You can also eat the seaweed but that is a bit much for me, my Mam says it is gorgeous if you want to try it though 😮

Anyway I would absolutely advise anyone who has any type of skin issue, or anyone who just wants to give themselves a bit of TLC, to try a seaweed bath you have nothing to lose.

Let the wedding season commence

This weekend was my first wedding of the year!

I have 6  weddings to attend over the next few months 😮 It appears 30 is the year when everyone settles down, I enjoy having no responsibilities & still think that I’m 21 so this is majorly freaking me out! The last 10 years went right over my head. Mortgages, weddings, babies….. what?

It is an excuse to get 6 new dresses and shoes oh and have 6 weekends away (might aswell push the boat out). Oh and the hen parties 😉

I spent the weekend in Seafield Golf & Hotel Spa (which is amazing, pure luxury) at my friend’s wedding. The bride was stunning as always (the groom wasn’t too bad either, he scrubs up alright). This group of friends has 4 wedding this year so I’m sure we will kill each other at some stage & need a 6 month break from looking at each other 😉 The ceremony was held in the hotel grounds and was a humanist ceremony which was lovely. I have to say I probably preferred it to a church ceremony, it was very personal and informal but each to their own! 🙂

2016-05-07 18.12.42

I have a family wedding in France in June, which is an excuse for a week long family holiday & I am a bridesmaid in September which people seem to think is really stressful but it has been totally chilled out so far. It is great to be involved in a wedding because my brother had a very small wedding in America and lets face it there is a slim to no chance of me finding someone to marry me so it will probably be my only chance! Weddings can be difficult for people who are disabled or disfigured as finding a partner is a lot more difficult and you experience a lot of rejection but its a part of life so is something that you have to get used to unless you totally isolate yourself but you are missing out then. Im lucky that I have a huge group of friends of men & women that aren’t super coupley so not being in a couple doesn’t really make much of a difference at weddings.

The weather wasn’t great for the ceremony yesterday but I don’t think it had any effect on the day (the bride might disagree), in typical Irish fashion though we woke up this morning to the sun splitting the stones. After breakfast a walk to the beach was in order  to get rid of the cobwebs.

20160508_112943.jpg

Just after midnight a text was received informing us that one of my best friends had given birth to a beautiful baby boy which only made the day even more special. But again hello babies, when did that happen?! I’m still in a place where i automatically think oh shit we are too young to be having babies but then I remember we are actually 30 & I need to grow up 🙂

Job Hunting & Interviews

If there is one thing that I have a lot of experience in it is looking for a job & doing job interviews!

I graduated in 2009, slap bang at the start of the recession (typical) :-(. It was difficult for anyone to get a job let alone someone with a disfigurement or disability. If anybody says or thinks that people with a disfigurement or disability are not discriminated against in the job market they are on a different planet. It does happen! It happened to me, not regularly but it did happen. The sad truth is you need to be 10 times better than a ‘normal’ person to be considered equal, especially at the start of your career.

Like a lot of other graduates I spent the first year after graduation on the dole and being knocked back over & over again. I had interned in Washington DC for a few months after completing my finals so that helped me in being selected for interviews. Getting past the interview stage was impossible though!

I won’t say that i was turned down for every role as a result of my scars, I’m sure there were better candidates & we were in the middle of a global recession!! I did have bad experiences though, interviewers sitting with mouths open when i walked in, 30 minute interviews lasting 5 minutes because the interviewer couldn’t concentrate on anything but my face.

Eventually I got lucky as I was given a contract, in the college where I completed my Law degree, as a Tutor for a few months which I really enjoyed (I wasn’t very good though). After that I was given a 3 month contract in Ryanair processing refunds (as a result of the volcano erupting in Iceland). I then ended up in the legal department of a Fund Administrator for 6 months (on Job Bridge before there was Job Bridge) & then a few months in the Department of Justice (again working for free). The market was so bad at the time that even getting someone to let me work for them for free was difficult 😉

From there I got my first PAID role in Compliance in a Fund Administrator & since then i have had 7 contract in 7 different companies, the longest lasting for a year. This meant looking for a new job & doing a new round of interviews every 6 months (on average). I must’ve had close to a hundred interviews over the last 7 years, no exaggeration. I have been in my current role for 15 months & it is permanent so hopefully I won’t have to do any interviews for a long time!! 🙂

It has gotten a lot easier over time due to me having a lot more experience & even though it might not seem like it there are a lot more jobs than there were 6 years ago, I received 3 job offers the last time I was looking!

A few interview tips I have come up with over the years are:

  • Body language – this is so important, if you act confidently and act like you deserve the role then the interviewer will too. Fake it until you make it as I always say.
  • Don’t be intimidated – the person interviewing you is just a person at the end of the day & they have probably had to do a lot of interviews too so will understand if you are nervous.
  • Eye Contact – this indicates that you are confident and are able to interact with people.
  • Listen to what the interviewer is saying. – No one wants to work with someone who doesn’t listen or can’t direction
  • Don’t memorise answers – I have always performed better in interviews where I was natural & thought about the answers I was giving.

A question I get asked a lot is whether i make an interviewer aware of my scars before an interview and the answer is no, i have never mentioned it, I don’t see why I should. If an interviewer isn’t professional enough to deal with it then I don’t want to work for them anyway. I also don’t mention my scars in an interview, I don’t see how it is relevant I am not interviewing to be a model. It is totally up to each person though, I can understand why some people would mention it.

The most important thing is don’t give up & apply for everything! It took me 5 and a half years and 10 contracts to get a permanent job but I got there eventually.

Look at me being all positive 🙂

 

 

 

 

My Very First Blog Post!!

I have been toying with the idea of setting up a Blog for years but never really felt it was a good idea until now. It always seemed like a lot of effort and it is opening yourself up to criticism from the big bad internet. Also what am I going to write about? 😮

My family and friends have been suggesting that I set up a blog for a long time because seemingly my rants can be funny and anyone who knows me knows that I can be opinionated. 😉 I am a big believer in always seeing the funny side of life even in the worst situations.

I plan to blog about anything and everything that I come across, being a 30-year-old in Ireland at the moment has its challenges, let alone being a disfigured women. I was in a house fire in France when i was 7 which resulted in 3rd degree burns to 70% of my face and body (not great) as a result I have experienced a lot of discrimination but have also had a lot of great experiences. I have had hundreds of operations, God knows how many, which are ongoing, my last operation was 3 and a half years ago. As new procedures and technology are developed I will hopefully have more treatment. Having burns is only a tiny portion of my life though, other people make it a much bigger issue out of it than it actually is. If other people were less bothered about it my life would be a lot easier. As I have heard many times it is society that disables a person and I can confirm that this is very true.

I was on the Ray D’arcy show on RTE1 last weekend with Tom Hickey (who also has a blog – Hickeys World) speaking about disfigurement and my experiences, since then a lot more people have suggested a blog so here I am. I have done quite a lot of media work in order to raise awareness of disfigurement and I have had experiences with the media that have not been very positive. The fact that everyone was so supportive and encouraging after this interview helped to give me the confidence to do it.

I studied Law & Business in college, then a Masters in Law, I also interned in Washington DC for a few months, but I am now working in compliance in financial services which is mental at the moment. I am very interested in equality and human rights so will probably write a bit about that too. Who knows?

I have a summer of weddings (I am a bridesmaid) and hen parties to look forward to, with a few babies thrown in (not my own), so that will be taking up most of my time and bank balance.

Dont expect anything amazing for the first while though as this is the first time I have ever blogged, hopefully I will improve over time 🙂

 

welcome-to-my-blog