Back in June I wrote a guest post called Get Out Of My Space for my new friend Kimmie Jones' blog, That Girl In The Wheelchair. She was good enough to return the favor and give us some insight into her own thoughts on fashion from a disabled perspective.
Thirty-year-old Kimmie was born with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive
neuromuscular disease which, in her case, causes stiff joints and weakness
mainly in her shoulders and hips. She's a Nashville girl and although we haven't met IRL yet I'm looking forward to activating our Wonder-Twin wheelchair powers in person - although the world may not be ready for two "aggressive-aggressive" beauties like us!
Dear disabled ladies who like to frump it up-
me start off by saying I am not a fashion or style blogger; I am a
blogger who likes looking presentable. I don't wear evening dresses or
designer clothes, but I have mastered feeling pretty and chic with
minimal effort; I know what I like and what I don't like - I
like looking nice. I don't like when I see other gals in chairs who
don't do the same.
There are a ton of unfair perceptions about disabled women floating around in the ether. They all suck. We are not perceived to be sexy (except to bizarre fetishists) and the attention we usually garner is slack-jawed staring from passersby. I don't like that, either, however I do like the idea of standing out for another reason other than the mobility equipment I inhabit and the concept of leaving people with a positive image of a wheelchair chick.
Sure, dressing a body that is slumped and constantly seated and not at all built like a centerfold is not easy (sometimes it can be a major pain in the ass.). There is a lot
stacked against me that should make me throw out the white flag and surrender to a life of sweatpants. I have scoliosis and a fused Frankenstein neck and bony legs and a trach scar on my throat... but I do my damnedest to rock them to their best ability. Throw on a scarf. Bulk up my legs with flat boots. Mask my curvy back with layers. It's really not so hard.
I have always been upset when I see women in chairs who have given up- the gals that have kinda lost site of the woman part of themselves. Dressing like a girl is super fun (thousands or drag queens can't be wrong). Additionally, when you look put-together- the world sees you as more capable.
The whole, "There's not clothes out there for me." doesn't cut it, either. Perhaps it's the fact that I am currently jobless, so fall victim to daily episodes of "What Not to Wear", but I think people make excuses to evade their potential. If you can't wear jeans, wear jeggings or leggings (just for the love- Stop the sweatpants insanity! ). If you're on a fixed disability income - shop at Goodwill. (I bought a Banana Republic silk dress there for $4 last week. You can be fabulous on a government check!)
This may come off as terribly short-sighted and bitchy - but there's absolutely no excuse for giving up on embracing your pretty. If you're pissed at getting passed over for being less than, put some effort into presenting yourself as capable person. Stop being all "woe is me". [Tangent: don't even get me started on that. I don't take kindly to Sad Sammy whiners!]
When you have a disability there are a lot of variables in your life that you have absolutely zero control over. (Your chair losing battery in the rain. You're in the hospital again. The job you want is on the second floor and there's no elevator) - fashion and looking nice is one thing that is within your grasp. You can totally handle and control that one aspect. You can throw together a rad outfit and gussy yourself up when you go out into the world.
Don't just do it for yourself- do it for all of us disabled gals. You're not just rep'ing yourself; you're rep'ing all of us. Raise people's expectations! Please, so I can stop hearing that note of surprise in people's tone when they say I look nice...for a disabled person.
Do me a favor- give people a new reason to stare.
Kimmie (aka that girl in the wheelchair)