Why I am no longer a cephalopod



Image: Octopoda photo from the American Museum of Natural History. Photo credit: me.

This used to be me.

More accurately, this was my Twitter profile picture for most of the time I’ve been on Twitter. My name was simply Shademar. I haven’t trusted the idea of true anonymity on the internet for some time, but I enjoyed the casual layer of obfuscation. It felt like at least a sort of flimsy safety, if only the safety of not being obviously female. It also gave me a little bit of leeway to discuss medical issues and how they intersected with my work.

Sometimes, I may have let it fool me into thinking I was more anonymous than I really ever was. I was lucky enough that this fact never bit me in the ass.

I’ve been concerned for some time about the lack of disability visibility in the sciences, all the while ducking behind an avatar and screen name myself. I was afraid of uncontrolled disclosure and how it might impact my future career. I’m guessing many others are as well. I think there are more of us here than we’ve let on, hiding amongst the monuments built to the cultures of Overwork and Stress Martyrdom.

My circumstances have changed. I’d be lying if I said I suddenly became braver for no particular reason. I still wonder if I can call myself a scientist anymore, but I have more freedom to be visible. So, whatever I may be, here I am: Shannon DeMaria@shademar. This is my awkward and often self-indulgent little blog. I’m working on some things I hope may be of help to others, but I can’t do these things anonymously, and I don’t want to whisper concerns about visibility while I myself hide anymore.


I hate photos of myself.