There are few things we’re allowed to be as autistics. We can be objects of pity or we can be burdens at the very least. At most, we can be savants. We can be cute if we’re little and quiet enough.
I can’t list all of the things we can’t be because it’s almost everything beyond that small list. I can, however, talk about one thing.
We are not allowed to be beautiful. Yes, I said we could be cute, but cute and beautiful are wildly different things.
Cute is a sleepy puppy dog. Cute is innocent. Cute is vulnerable. Cute is manipulable. It’s non-threatening, it’s complacent. We can be those things. We can be cute. It also helps that children are widely regarded are cute, and we autistics are widely regarded as children. Cute is child and child is acceptable.
Beauty, though. Beauty is a prowling tigress. Beauty is real and opinionated. Beauty can hurt you. Beauty can manipulate you. Beauty threatens, beauty says no. Beauty is adult. Beauty is confidence.
Beauty can be sexual, and god forbid we have sex, and god forbid to the third power that having sex makes babies like us. Being sexual is subversive to ableism.
Beauty can be powerful. Beauty can be that tigress, hunting for her prey, muscles rippling under sleek fur, enough power to tear through the jungle but enough sense to do so quietly so as not to startle her prey. Beauty is this careful intelligence, and well, being powerful enough to hurt our oppressors? To stand up for ourselves? To think and reason? No way, not allowed.
Beauty can just be simple. Aesthetic pleasantness. Even in that form, it challenges the idea that we can’t be liked for loved, that we can’t be works of art in our own right. We must be deficient, and beauty is not deficient.
(And hey. You don’t have to be beautiful. You can be cute. Research shows that I for one am the cutest motherfucker ever. And, well, I said sexuality is subversive, but you don’t have to be sexual whatsoever. The greatest act of defiance isn’t molding yourself to spite your oppressors, but being yourself despite your oppressors.)
I’d be wrong to leave out the issues of gender that play into this. Autism is supposed to be a boy thing. That’s why Autism Speaks uses blue for their hate mongering. Being an autistic woman is in itself an act of defiance, but being a femme woman? That’s entirely not allowed.
And so, I do my best to be a femme woman. Okay, well, I just am a femme woman. Like I said, be you first. But while I femme it up, I note that I’m being defiant. Because I’m not supposed to be being that femme me. I’m supposed to be ugly and boyish because that’s what autism is, right?
no. Autism is whatever the damn hell we autistics want it to be. Autism is different for the individual. But for me, autism is that prowling tigress. Autism is beauty.
So here’s a picture of me being beautiful as hell. (Autistic too).