Monthly Archives: January 2011

Poster Child

book by Emily Rapp

annotation by Wendy M. Fontaine

Emily Rapp was born with a genetic disorder that left one leg shorter than the other. At just four years old, doctors removed her left foot, setting her on a long, arduous path of learning how to deal with the pain, shame and confusion of physical disability.

After the surgery, she was fitted with a wooden leg. As she grew and became a more active child, the length of the artificial limb often needed to be changed, leaving Rapp in a constant state of readjusting to the sight, feel and function of her prosthesis.

When Rapp was six, she became the poster child for the March of Dimes in her home state of Wyoming, a title that helped, for better and for worse, establish her early identity.

Her book, Poster Child, is an honest telling of the personal and emotional ordeal of growing up as a disabled woman in a world obsessed with physical perfection.

In the beginning of the book, she is a child who craves the attention that comes with being a poster child, being different and special. However, the rest of her story is about rejecting that special attention, overcompensating for disability, and struggling to feel normal and desirable a woman.

This is where the key to Rapp’s memoir lies. While not every woman is missing a limb, or even has a physical disability, most women can relate to the struggle of negative self image and the uncomfortable shame of hating their own bodies. Continue reading