"Waist High in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled". Nancy Mairs (1996)
A brief examination of metaphors...demonstrates the extent to which physical vigor equates with positive moral qualities:
"Keep your chin up," we say (signifying courage), "and your eyes open" (alertness); "stand on your own two feet" (independence) "and tall" (pride); "look straight in the eye" (honesty) or "see eye to eye" (accord); "run rings around" (superiority).
By contrast, physical disability connotes vice, as in:
"sit on your ass" (laziness),"take it lying down" (weakness), "listen with half an ear" (inattention), and get left "without a leg to stand on" (unsound argument). The way in which the body occupies space and the quality of the space it occupies correlate with the condition of the soul: it is better to be admired as "high-minded" than "looked down on" for one's "low morals," to be "in the know" than "out of it," to be "up front" than "back-handed," to be "free as a bird" than confined to a wheelchair".
(Examples of symbolic awareness in English language)
Cited by: The communicative imagination and its cultivation.(communications studies)
Article from: Communication Quarterly | January 1, 2002 | Engen, David E.