Adventures in being a queer bionic woman.
By Dayna Troisi
My prosthesis is like black strappy lingerie. The first time I slid it on, I felt exactly how I had been hoping to feel: sexy. In the weeks leading up to its delivery, whenever I went for a run, I’d fantasize about wearing it.
I’d get lost in my visions of being a seductive bionic woman. It’s not that I didn’t feel sexy before—I truly did—but as someone who is obsessed with fashion and makeup, I’m always looking for the next accessory that will make me stand out.
I was born missing my lower left arm and for 23 years I didn’t wear a prosthesis. They all looked like a bad wax figures. I didn’t want to blend in, but that’s exactly what old prosthetic models were trying to accomplish.
Then, I met actress Angel Giuffria. She was wearing an all-white Bebionic—she looked like a sexy Storm Trooper. My heart beat faster when I envisioned myself with one, the all-black one. I had to have it.
I made an appointment with my prosthetist and, after a few months, I was rocking my new accessory. I love its jet-black forearm and carbon fiber hand. It’s functional—it helps me hold my purse, zip up my jacket, and open my wallet—and it makes me feel attractive. Just as I rely on beauty products to enhance my confidence (spray tan, eyelash extensions, lipstick), now I also rely on my bionic arm. When I’m wearing it, I have more confidence and am more comfortable with myself.
That confidence comes from a combination of the way my arm makes me feel and the way people react to it. I’m more likely to let loose and dance in clubs, talk to strangers, and flirt with women. And whereas before people would whisper, “Oh look at the girl with one arm.” Now they say, “Cool! A cyborg.” I used to insist I styled myself only for myself, which is mostly true. But I don’t exist in a vacuum; how people perceive and treat me inevitably factors in to how I see myself. I know I’m perceived as more attractive with my bionic arm.
The problem is I’ve also become dependent. Just as it affects my self-esteem to miss a spray tan appointment or lose an eyelash, not wearing my new arm lessens my élan. I love my prosthetic so much that it’s hard for me to picture myself without it. But the two places where twentysomething women want to feel most confident—at the beach and in the bedroom—are the only places where I can’t wear my bionic arm. Realizing that has created a whole new set of self-esteem obstacles to overcome.