What the **** is Normal?

Moving can be terribly stressful as I’ve recently experienced first hand.

For the past ten days my life has been all about unpacking and organising all the stuff I didn’t even realise we had; dealing with clueless customer services representatives at Virgin Media and Sky in an effort to sort out our phone and internet services; find a local GP that accepts new patients, and so on.

I’ve hardly paused to check in with myself. So, yesterday, when a technical fault on the District Line forced me to stay put, I finally had that opportunity.

That’s when I realised that amidst all the recent stress I’d become disconnected from myself, leaving me feeling drained, lost and empty inside.

Some people use meditation or prayer to re-establish their inner balance and connection; I read.

So once I’d returned to my chaotic new home where my massive book collection has yet to be organised on the shelves in my library, I went hunting for one of my favourite books, one that I love to dip into when life feels rough:

IMG_0695What the **** is Normal?!, by Francesca Martinez, a British stand-up comedian and disability rights activist.

If you’re not already familiar with Martinez, make hers the book you read this summer! It’s an incredibly funny, honest and thought provoking memoir about growing up with cerebral palsy.

Much of what Martinez writes on disability is also highly applicable to people with facial disfigurement but this is not a niche book about disability. Martinez’s message about self-acceptance in a world obsessed with beauty and perfection is highly relevant to all of us, disabled or not:

‘…any “suffering” I’ve endured hasn’t come from being wobbly but from people not knowing how to handle difference. So, instead of focusing on eradicating disability, maybe we should focus on creating a world that embraces it as a natural part of life.’

‘I’ve seen that happiness doesn’t come from having a “normally” working mind or body. It comes from being loved and growing up in a healthy environment. If you are lucky enough to receive these things, like I was, then you’ll be well equipped to deal with life’s challenges – whatever body you inhabit.’

And she’s as funny on paper as she is on stage. Until I came across Martinez, I hadn’t appreciated just how powerful comedy can be as a vehicle for challenging prejudice and stereotypes. As a comedian and as a social critic Francesca Martinez rocks!

3 thoughts on “What the **** is Normal?

  1. Julia July 24, 2015 / 4:07 pm

    I’m inspired by what you’ve said to seek this book out … thank you for sharing.


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