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Look at me! a celebration of women with disabilities.

Challenging the myth that women with disabilities lack sensuality, sexuality and agency, Marlene le Roux has complied a stunning collection of photos and life stories of 23 South African women with disabilities, ranging from polio and blindness to cerebral palsy, becoming a paraplegic or being born without a right hand. The book Look at me brings to light their courage, their beauty and their personhood, which includes, but is not defined by their disability.

The book portrays women with disabilities as sensual, sexy and desirable; women who have challenged and overcome the obstacles put in their way by a society guided by prejudice and fear of those who are different. They have taken great strides in realising their dreams for their professional and personal lives.

A photographic exhibition of the images and life stories from the book was held in March this year at Paul's Coffee Shop in the Old Breweries Complex in Windhoek. The Coffee Shop employs and trains people with disabilities and was the perfect venue to bring this provocative celebration of differently-abled women to a larger audience.

Source: Look at me, complied by Marlene le Roux, photographs by Lucie Pavlovich, Genugtig! Publishers, Cape Town 2008

Bonita Blankenberg was born in 1982 and has been visually impaired since birth. She matriculated at the Athlone School for the Blind in Cape Town and is today a qualified journalist.

I was blind, therefore I was deemed unable to experience red-hot passion or breathless ecstasy. My feminine instinct to want to feel loved, treasured and desired didn't matter.

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I am Bonita, a woman made in God's image, born to be different, a reflection of perserverance, an echo of the power. He gave me to claim my right to be.

Julia Moloi, 30 years old, with cerebral palsy since babyhood, is a businesswoman and the founder and editorial director of the magazine for people with disabilities, 'We are Capable'.

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You do not have to prove yourself just because you are a woman. And you most certainly do not have to prove yourself because of a disability. Some people are quite content to be just who they are.

Marlene le Roux was born in 1967 and contracted polio as a small girl. She obtained degrees in music and education from the University of the Western Cape and is today the director of Audience Development and Education at Artscape.

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To feel comfortable in your own skin is very sensuous. My journey towards being sensual and in control of my body started with accepting my own laughter, my zest for life, my own sense of rhythm. And this journey started when I decided: I accept everything, I blame no one, and the world owes me nothing.

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Publication:Sister Namibia
Geographic Code:6NAMI
Date:Jul 1, 2009
Words:457
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