I’ve been really into making shirts lately. Call it my zen happy place. I tell the hubs to call it “money savings” which is how I convinced him to be as excited about this new hobby as I am. It’s hard to keep him maintaining the same level of excitement when our house is overflowing with iron-on vinyl. “How many different colors do you need?!” is a frequent question in my house. (You know you may have a problem when the guy working the register at Joann’s asks what project all these colors are for and your answer is “I don’t even know yet!”) But, I’m quite the stock-piler and I like to have everything I could ever possibly need on hand just in case. Most people have hoards of water and canned food for an eventual earthquake in California which will shut the state down. I’ll be prepared to make disaster relief shirts. Who’s the prepared person now?
But I seriously, seriously digress. The point is about one of the shirts I just made. It’s a workout shirt (which is another frequent topic of conversation in my house: How many workout shirts does one person need?!) and it features Wonder Woman and the phrase “Not all princesses need to be saved.” Wonder Woman is my girl. Or, my gurl for all the hipsters out there. She’s all things strength and power, but super sexy and feminine (in a strong and powerful way).
My favorite Disney princess is Ariel, and always has been. Even before my legs stopped working. But, the irony in having a favorite princess who wishes she had legs that worked is not lost on me now. But, if you think about it, the Ariel story kind of sucks. It’s this guy who is super into Ariel, but then this other hot chick with a voice he heard once comes around and he ditches Ariel despite their insane connection. And then she saves this dumb prince and gets her voice back and he’s all “Baby, I really wanted you the whole time.” So, instead of being the strong, independent Ariel who defied her father and made a deal with Ursula, she becomes this weak chick who will take back the guy who spurned her.
But Wonder Woman. Talk about strength! She’s the warrior princess of the Amazons! How do you beat that? And wouldn’t a lasso of truth be the coolest weapon? You can do so much when you know the truth. If there’s an issue, I can problem solve when I know the truth. And she has the crazy ability to heal really fast, which is obviously very enviable. Especially when my body heals like molasses [read: very, very slowly. Not sticky. That’s weird.] Also, the invisible plane! I mean, who even needs working legs if you can fly everywhere and shoot projectiles with your tiara?! And, not to brag, but I can rock knee high boots like nobody’s business!
So, isn’t it better to be the princess who is out saving other people, including weak males? Isn’t that showing independence and self-reliance? I try to be as independent and self-reliant as possible. I’m constantly telling people that I don’t need help. If I really sit down and think about it, there really isn’t much that I can’t do. Even in my wheelchair, with two non-functioning legs. I joke around with the Hubs a lot that people probably think he’s a jerk for not helping me more. But, he knows that if he tries, it will lead to problems. (Is one too independent if offering to help leads to an issue, versus not helping at all?) But, that’s how I know he cares: he knows that I can take care of things myself. Of course I like some help. And I appreciate him for helping me when I need him to. For example, when I am sick with a cold I turn into a huge baby and he brings me food and drinks and kleenex and all that stuff. And when I take a shower, he puts my shower bench in and out for me. Yes, I can do that myself, and sometimes if I decide to take a shower when he’s not around and I forgot to ask him to put it in, I do in fact do it myself. But it’s easier for him to do that.
And it’s not just the hubs who feels weird about not helping. A year ago, my brother went on a day trip to Catalina Island with me because I had court. He begged me to let him push me because he thought people were giving him the ol’ stink eye for not helping me. But I didn’t need the help, though I did appreciate the offer. Some people in wheelchairs get mad when people offer. I think mainly they’re offended when strangers ask. I’m never offended if someone offers to help me with something. People passing by when I’m getting my wheelchair out of my car often ask for help. They’re probably not used to seeing a wheelchair on the ground with no wheels when I’m snapping it all together. So, I’m never offended when they ask. I appreciate the niceness of strangers wanting to help someone else who may be in need. But, it does get slightly annoying (and embarrassing) when they don’t stop asking. If you ask and I say no, then don’t keep asking. And don’t assume I’m trying to prove to you that I can do it. Maybe I’m trying to prove it to myself that I can do everything. And maybe I don’t want to give someone else the power of thinking that I need their help.
And maybe I’m Wonder Woman, a princess who doesn’t need to be saved. Maybe you need me to save you.