ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Embodied Experiences: Being Female and Disabled

Certain images of gendered/able bodies put forward as the norm, portray and legitimise certain bodily forms and shapes as more desirable in different sociocultural contexts. The gender regimes that operate in the cultural context of Bengal draw heavily on the concept of bhalo meye - an ideological construct of the ideal woman. This paper examines the daily lives of women with locomotor disabilities in Bengal, who grow up negotiating their impaired bodies and internalising sociocultural constructions of the "normal" female body. Disabled women strive to adhere to the socially acceptable ideas about a bhalo meye through different strategies of presenting a feminine self, in gait and bearing, in dress and comportment. On the one hand, they internalise normative ideologies about a bhalo meye and on the other, are forced to accept the material reality of their impairments while perfecting their performance as women.

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