Saturday, May 21, 2011

How to be beautiful

One of my favorite greeting cards reads "For your birthday I was going to get you a day of beauty for $175. But all I could afford was a day of relatively attractive for $35."

Just a couple of weeks ago I went to the movies with my wife and my travel companion, my wheel chair. While there a woman approached me and much to my surprise said "You're beautiful. Oh my God, you are beautiful" and then began to awkwardly apologize. She went on to explain that she wasn't used to seeing attractive people in a wheelchair, but I think she was saying much more than that.

I am not beautiful. There are no beauty pageants in my future. No one has ever come up to me and said that before. What she was really confessing was that her image of a person in a wheelchair was of someone 'unattractive'. That a wheelchair somehow suggested a deformity or disfigurement and thankfully, I don't have either of those. What I do have, and many of us with disabilities have, is to have combat those expectations of being unattractive, deformed, mentally incompetent (STUPID), hard of hearing or somehow less than ``the more able bodied occupants of our planet'.

So let me tell you what I do. I smile at people and say hello. I start conversations with strangers. I make it a point to be seen as the happy guy in the wheelchair….whether at the movies, the grocery store, the doctors office or the airport. Some of the places we go to regularly know me for that and if I have somehow changed their expectations of a guy in a wheelchair, than the world is a nicer place and we are all better off.

Do smiling, saying hello and being friendly make someone more attractive? I think so and apparently the woman at the movie theater thought so too.

Whether in a wheelchair or not, become known as the happy guy. Change people's expectations of how people are and how you are. Smile, say hello, ask a stranger "how are you today" and see what happens.

My guess is that before too long, someone will tell that you are beautiful

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.


  1. The reality is,Michael, Jennifer and I have never seen you face-to-face, and we without a doubt tell you that you indeed are beautiful! Thanks for sharing your insights and perspectives to help the rest of us display the same level of beauty in our own way. Dan

  2. You are beautifully insightful,too!

  3. I remember I saw you being wheeled in your chair at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. For a half-block, I was trying to figure out which movie star you were and then it dawned on me it was you, Michael Gerber, whom I hadn't seen since our daughters graduated from high school together. You ARE beautiful, Michael, inside and out and are an inspiration to many.

  4. Hi Michael,

    A beilliant post, I agree totally with you.

    I always smile and speak to as many people when I am outside.

    Sorry about my lack of visits.
    Spike's, our dog, illness, quick death nov/dec and being so ill jan/feb to march meant no visits
    Since then I have been spending more time sitting in my wheelchair I have also not been visiting.

    I just passed by to say hello.
    I hope you are doing well.

  5. Well Said!

    I like what Jerry Seinfeld commented:
    "When someone sneezes, I tell them 'You are so beautiful'!"

  6. I love it, so well written. I will do my best to smile n say hello. Love u more each time I read your blog. From Andriana

  7. very nice article. i guess first thing that is very necessary for all this is confidence and determination.

  8. A wise article Michael .. and I believe it works the other way too - you (the person giving off those happy vibes) reap a real benefit as well. Best wishes (from a guy with MS in Australia), KB.

  9. "Do smiling, saying hello and being friendly make someone more attractive? I think so and apparently the woman at the movie theater thought so too"
    me too think so . smiling is really very important to look beautiful and even healthier. No worries then everything goes well and good.

  10. Beaing beautiful is just like an art work . Try to be beautiful naturally not chemically.

  11. I really enjoyed these tips ~ thank you for always posting such wonderful messages... they really remind all of us that our happiness really is in our own hands!! It's also great to know special ways to spread the happiness to others as well!!