Friday, 5 August 2016

I'm Really Flexible and it's NOT Sexy

I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome type 3; the hypermobility kind, the stupidly bendy 'how don't you snap?' one. Some people will probably call the majority of us with EDS 3 - double-jointed, but that's a myth, I mean, how can you have double the amount of joints? I've written quite a few posts on EDS, and here I explain just what it is. And trust me, if having EDS just meant being flexible, I'd be all over it...alas, it's so much more. Chronic pain is a bitch.

Whenever I meet someone new and I tell them about my condition there's often curiosity and empathy but sometimes sniggers. Don't get me wrong I'm the first person to make an innuendo or comment something filthy but when it comes to my disability, it pisses me off. If my collagen wasn't faulty and I wasn't as bendy as I am, I wouldn't have half of the problems that I do. I wouldn't need a powerchair, I wouldn't be in pain every second of the day and I could participate in society like everyone else. But because everything in me hyperextends (muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints) it's always working harder and therefore doing damage - hence the chronic pain, dislocations, subluxations, sprains, tears and everything else I have to put up with.

Obviously contortionists are hypermobile, and more often than not so are gymnasts and dancers. The media repeatedly objectifies gymnasts making out that 'flexibility is sexy.' Not only is this demeaning the hard work of the athletes but it is fetishising them. Futhermore, whenever a contortionist is on TV, mainly on a show like Britain's Got Talent, the artist is a spectacle because of his/her abilities but also sexualised due to the connotations of their flexibility. 

Therefore, when I do tell these sniggering people about my condition and they hear the word 'flexible', a whole cacophony of excitement erupts and suddenly my disability becomes fetishized. 'Just how flexible are you?' 'Can you put your legs behind your head?' 'Can you do the splits?' Yes, I can get my legs behind my head but I may also dislocate a hip whilst doing it. How's that sexy?

I don't find anything about my condition sexy. My boyfriend has to put my socks on, to brush my hair, to make sure I have my medication, please tell me what's hot about that? 

This is not a woe is me, I hate my disability post, because I don't. I'm happy with my life, my disability has opened so many doors for me and continues to do so. What I'm not happy with is being objectified because I'm practically a contortionist. 

Who wants to jump into bed with me and potentially end up with a screaming girl freaking out over a jaw dislocation, or having to stop mid-thrust because I've pulled a muscle? Yes, I may be able to get in some particularly risque positions but I could also end up crying. And what kills the mood more than a little cry?

For my boyfriend and I, my bendiness is a non-subject; it's just another thing we take into consideration. He's not turned on or off by my flexibility or disability because that's only one part of who I am. My flexibility isn't sexy, but I am. Kind of.


  1. Exactly! It's horrible for people to fetishise something that brings such incredible pain. Like you say, it's more likely to make me feel unsexy than spice up the bedroom. Ergh.

  2. I love this. Thank you so much for sharing, your disability isnt for anyone to judge you on and you should be treated like a person, not an object or a fetish. You're amazing to post this and I think you're beautiful for the person you are as a whole.

  3. Even if you move flexibly in the bedroom without pain, it's not something that strangers have a right to know. If I were you, I'd respond with 'you look like you enjoy dogging, do you?' because I'm a dick.

  4. From someone I'm close to I don't mind it so much, comes up at pyjama parties and I'm absolutely fine with that. I DO have a problem with it when strangers or acquaintances do this stuff (and believe me they do), that's a wholly different thing.

    "Hey you, my unsolicited commentary on your disability isn't quite dehumanising enough, let's objectify and fetishise it a little more." Comes down to whether the question is appropriate to the relationship.

    The trouble is that total strangers don't seem to apply those boundaries to people with disabilities.

    My standard response these days is "Get your mind out of my knickers, Dickers!"

    1. Yeh, exactly. It's weird when it's randomers x

  5. Loved this post, it's so funny I've always got this comment too, (my condition is also a connective tissue disorder amongst other things) I've never consciously thought about it, & thinking about it now - it is slightly patronising, to sexualise something we probably are a bit sensitive about is pretty shitty. I guess people don't think before they speak do they. Thanks for shining some light on something many wouldn't even think twice about.
    Love always
    Jamie xox

  6. This is really good. I have a overly arched lower back and I use a cane. Both of these things are fetishized too. I wrote a blog post about it which I'll share with you on Twitter.


  7. Great post. I suffer from JHS and my doctors can't decide if I have EDS or not. I am a gym coach and gymnast and I can do the splits with ease. I can also feel my hips "pop" with ease. looks impressive, feels like hell! x

    1. Basically, the notion of flexibility being sexy is daft. I scare people with how easily my feet roll from underneath me, my elbows scare small children. I constantly sprain and tear ligaments and tendons and people wonder why I moan about being in pain a lot!

    2. Yeh, there's nothing sexy about being able to practically twist inside out x

  8. Me too I'm sick of women flirting with me just because I have one leg like I'm some kind of piece of meat!
    Respect me ladies.


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