I know that sometimes, people think that blogging about fashion and style is inconsequential. People love reading about my SMA experiences – and I love sharing them and helping people to better understand my life – but I don’t think that means I can’t also blog about skirts I think are cute, or a dress I bought and am loving. Actually, I think that both matter!
Sometimes, people take clothes for granted. They’re just things you put on to get through your day. Or maybe you’re interested in fashion, and like using clothes to express yourself. But for me, clothes are more than that. Clothes are a way to fit in.
When you’re in a wheelchair, you don’t need anything to make you stick out more. I know that my wheelchair makes people do a double take, and when we meet, they’re going to remember me. (Occasionally, this means I have people saying hi to me… and I cannot remember their name or how we met. Sorry! I really try.) But if people are going to look at me more closely than they’d look at anyone else, I want to make sure that once they look past the chair, what they see is a person like anyone else. I want to be wearing great outfits, so that in the future, people remember me as the girl with great style rather than the girl in the wheelchair.
This is a real challenge for me, though. It’s not easy – at all – for me to find clothes that fit me. Stacy London and I actually had a (very) quick chat about this during her talk last year (read about that here). I can often fit in children’s clothes, but I don’t want to look like a 10-year-old. And many adult clothes are just so big on me that I’d have to tailor every single piece of clothing that I own to make it even remotely fit me. That’s why I love sharing stores where I do find clothes that fit me (ASOS, Nordstrom, J.Crew, Banana Republic) – because I’m so excited and appreciative that they do include me in their size range; that they make me feel like they do want me as a customer.
That’s why representation in fashion is so important. How can I ever feel like I fit in if I don’t see myself anywhere? Clothes really normalize people in a way that’s so difficult to comprehend if there’s nothing about you that makes you look so drastically different that everyone else. I want to be able to do what everyone else does – to pick my clothes to showcase who I am. I want to be able to use fashion to look differently from everyone else in the way that I choose, not just differently because I use a wheelchair.
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