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Dr Sara Louise Wheeler has Waardenburg Syndrome Type 1, and she is exploring all aspects of her embodied experiences through a variety of creative mediums. She is currently writing a Deafhearing opera-ballet called ‘Y Dywysoges Arian’ (The Silver Princess), funded by Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru. Sara is also preparing a bilingual poetry collection called ‘Confylsiwn/ Convulsion’, reflecting on the lasting impact of her febrile convulsions. Sara is a Visiting Research Fellow at Wrexham Glyndŵr University; her research interests include popular culture, translanguaging, cynghanedd and sign language poetry. She writes the column ‘O’r Gororau’ (from the borders) for Barddas Welsh poetry magazine.

‘The objectified abject’

I am running through Liverpool city centre,

through the bus station; it’s a hot day,

I am young, and I’m wearing a tight-fitting top,

with no cardigan. I become aware of two young men

watching me, in apparent fascination. As I pass near them,

one of them says to the other “look at her tits”,

but his companion makes a face and says:

“she’s got grey hair though”. This hits me

hard – insulting, shocking, disrupting.

How to feel, in the face of such a thing?

I’m annoyed and confused – humiliated. For

years I have pondered and tried to unpick

my emotions, from that day. I’ve tried to

apply wisdom, learnt from Morrissey:

“If you don’t like me, don’t look at me”.

But it doesn’t change the fact that he

was declaring me abject – unattractive,

but why do I care? I don’t, not really,

well, not about what he thinks anyway, because

who is he, to me? Nothing - just some lout,

objectifying women, on a hot day in the city –

but, it’s still not nice, to be found to be

a creature who raises abjection – disgust,

or at least, a lack of attraction.


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