“When you’re five, you think you can jump off the bed in a homemade cape you made and fly. Even when your parents tell you can’t, you’re still gonna try and do it.” – Veronica Siaba (Dancer with Cerebral Palsy, Protagonist)
I walked on my tippy toes til I was eight and my feet were wrapped in pink tape daily to keep my arches from falling. That was my everyday and I loved it. I was just one step away from ballerina status!
Little girls want to be ballerinas all the time. Even on occasion, little girls with Cerebral Palsy! That’s why my parents got me a ballerina costume for Halloween two years in a row. And that’s why when I saw little girls just like me in multicolored tutus for the documentary Perfectly Normal for Me, I teared up a little bit.
These little ones were living my childhood dream (the program they attend is aptly called Dancing Dreams). I saw so much familiar love and tension in each of these families to some similar and some different to my own experience: the authentic joy of childhood, siblinghood; seeking “normalcy”, inclusion, freedom, independence, all while needing, supporting, and loving each other and defining these things for themselves.
Perfectly Normal for Me is premiering on March 9th as part of the ReelAbilities Film Festival in NYC and will be screening through March 14th. It is a heartwarming peek into the lives of four families of four children with Cerebral Palsy – Jake, Alexandria, Caitlyn, and Veronica, these kids and their families featured exhibit grace, spunk, grit, wisdom, humor, stubbornness, resilience, and love as they all forge their own paths, creating their own Normal and teaching others in process.
As a self-esteem advocate, one of my my favorite lines in the documentary comes from the young, wise, Veronica when she responds to critics’ comments on a ballet dancers body: “[The critic’s] job is to critique dancing; not body image.”
Director Catherine Tambini says, “Our intention for the film is to open the audiences minds and hearts to the humanity within each and every one of us and to encourage inclusion and acceptance. We want to change the dialogue on disabilities and the general public’s perceptions of people with disabilities.”
Producer Elizabeth Hemmerdinger adds, “This film has become vital viewing which we hope will contribute to progress that had been made on inclusion in the public sphere.”
My inner six year old feels a kinship to this film and applauds it for its personal touch, universal heart and authenticity. If you’re in New York, join me in love and fun and go see it!
For the trailer and festival showtimes watch the trailer below or click here for more information:
For those outside of New York, the film will be shown at Aspen Institute, in New Views, on July 9 at 4 PM.
Xian Horn is a joyful half-Asian woman with Cerebral Palsy, serving as writer, teacher, speaker, mentor, and Exemplar for the AT&T NYU Connect Ability Challenge toward the creation of Assistive Technology. A member of an international network of extraordinary women, 85 Broads, she was heralded by founder Janet Hanson as an “amazing role model for all women.” With her personal stories and ongoing mentoring work, Xian is invested in contributing positively to self-esteem and the collective self-image, especially for women. To support her True Beauty efforts for people with disabilities, please join her Facebook community and follow her on Twitter.