Although no one’s body is perfect, people whose bodies have unexpected curves, missing pieces, odd bulges, interesting tics or unusual twists know the isolation of The Other. A Swiss organization called Pro Infirmis is working to change that by narrowing the gap between Normal and Other, reminding us how false such distinctions are.
I learned of Pro Infirmis through their most recent video, “Because who is perfect?” For the 2013 International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd, they created mannekins based on models with scoliosis, brittle bone disease and other disabilities. The mannekins were fashionably dressed and placed in the store windows of high-end stores.
Watching the reactions of passersby is fascinating. Even better is watching the models unveil the mannekins made in their likenesses, seeing their bodies recreated with reverence.
Watch the 2011 video too. The person in the bear costume stands alone in a city square. Gradually people respond to his outstretched arms and give him big hugs. There is so much joy, laughter and ease in the hugs.
Then comes poignant the last scene, when we meet the man within the costume and read the question, “Do we need to disguise ourselves to get closer?”
My German is spotty so I am grateful for online translations on the Pro Infirmis site. They may not be perfect, but they make it easier for me to dive into the many issues the organization illuminates, the counseling and services it offers and so much more.
One day we will look back in amazement at a time when people with various physical, mental and emotional differences were marginalized, when barriers to full acceptance and participation were as high as mountains. We will shake our heads at our limited awareness of the fullness of human expression.
It will be organizations like Pro Infirmis who dismantle the barriers. They give me hope.
Thank you for the tip, Elizabeth Elza Clarke.