This article was culled from the Guardian UK. In this interview, Yinka Shonibare told the Guardian he is not troubled about what he see on the mirror as well as about getting old. According to him, “I focus more on the internal.” See the full interview below as published on the Guardian.
I have a physical disability so, as a result, I don’t focus too much on what I see in the mirror. I am not overly obsessed, because I know that I am not going to be taking Naomi Campbell’s job any time soon.
I focus more on the internal – cerebral attributes. When I was 18, I contracted transverse myelitis, which is inflammation of the spinal cord, and was left with complete paralysis. Before the illness, I was more cerebral anyway – as a teenager, I went for solitary walks and wrote poetry – so I guess it didn’t have the devastating effect on me that it might have had on someone who was more body-conscious.
At first I had no movement at all from the neck down, so I had to work very hard to trick my brain into making parts of my body work. I still have residual paralysis and I use a wheelchair. I don’t have a lot of strength in my legs, but I have physiotherapy every day to help me maintain some physical strength. I try to eat healthily, I don’t eat junk food and I don’t indulge much in alcohol.
I have crazy dreadlocks and a beard, and I am ageing around the edges – some grey is starting to show. I don’t have the same kind of anxieties and struggles that go with being younger. Also, my son, Kay, is 21 and has left home, so I am discovering a new kind of independence, which is good.
I’m 50 but I am not worried about growing older. I’m relieved.