Time goes so fast and I have just realised it has been a long time since I logged into my blog account but I feel my fingers twitching, in terms of needing to write, don’t get excited my hands haven’t miraculously started working properly! Paralysis is still part of my life and will be for my foreseeable future unless there is a cure for a spinal cord injury. Luckily, I live my life to the full despite this, I don’t rock in a corner only hoping to live once my there is a cure. Obviously, there are many struggles within my life which I have spoken about in the past but I have the mentality of just getting on with it. Don’t get me wrong I do have down days but I know thats okay & you should know that too whatever your circumstance may be. Touching on the topic of my spinal cord injury leads me into today’s post…INCLUSIVITY IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY. I spoke about this on my instagram (@Jbone89) but I feel that sharing this topic here also may reach different people, even a brand maybe.
For as long as I have needed wheels to get me around I have always found it a bit of a struggle to find clothes which will look as good sat down as they do on the posed standing models online. CORRECTION – It has been a struggle to know what may look even better sat down because the models are always STANDING UP! I’ll get back into that shortly.
Back when I was fifteen years old and I first had my accident I lived in jogging bottoms and basic jersey tops as it was the only thing it seemed I could wear; as it is what everyone seemed to be wearing pushing their wheelchairs in hospital. I felt like my whole personality through fashion, makeup and hair were suddenly always going to be a distant memory. That wasn’t ME, I’d never wear THOSE CLOTHES, not wear makeup, not do my hair!! All of my old clothes were not going to be apart of my life anymore, the jeans with the slightly torn hems from walking would no longer be worn as they would sit uncomfortably too tight on my stomach & the pockets would be uncomfortable to sit on etc. They would just simply be a dusty memory of a previous life. Ever since I was a child I have loved fashion and shopping with my mum was something we had always enjoyed doing together. I always wore what I felt like wearing and so I have never given myself one style, my style is myself and I will wear what looks good and feels good. Therefore, losing working legs and hands wasn’t all I felt I had lost at fifteen…I had also lost a part of who I was…my image. Luckily, I persevered and managed to be able to do my own makeup again but you’ve all heard that story. However, fashion has been a slightly longer battle as there is so much I would wear if I was standing. Although I will later share some key pieces in another blog post that work for me in case they also work for you.
BACK TO THE INDUSTRY!
I have no idea why I haven’t thought of this sooner, it is SO SIMPLE but will make a considerable difference to us wheelchair users…ACTUALLY…It’ll be helpful to anyone who has to sit down for a long period of time, an office worker for example, even someone going out for a lovely dinner. We all sit down. So as mentioned earlier when online shopping we see models striking a sassy pose stood up facing forwards, sideways, from behind but very rarely do we see these models simply sat. Brands please LISTEN…can you please have one shot of the model sat down so we can ALL see what the outfit will look like. It will do so much for so many. Just a couple of weeks ago I ordered myself four dresses from a website which loads of women purchase fairly expensive going out dresses from and unfortunately I had to send all four back as they wouldn’t go on me sat down. Returning these dresses cost ME £20 in postage costs (I am even still waiting for a refund of about £500 too) but if I had seen them on a model sat down I would’ve known they wouldn’t work. They may even look good on the model sat down but when looking at someone sat down we would be able to determine if this would work for us. This would save everyone’s time and money. This also leads me to realise this benefits not only the relationship the customer has with the brand but also the environment as less would be returned!!! FOOD FOR THOUGHT THERE!
What bothers me also is that so many brands are trying to be inclusive and that is great BUT despite these brands using “diverse” people within their campaigns they then don’t always represent this within their actual brand/website. It is so wonderful brands have incorporated some within their brand though such as plus size versions of the outfits shown on a plus size model. However, us gals who sit down are forgotten about. It sometimes feels like brands use us for their own benefit in terms of being seen as an inclusive company as opposed to actually helping the world become more inclusive and more open-minded. What I and MILLIONS of other people are asking for isn’t actually much. The model doesn’t have to be a wheelchair user but if now and again the item is shown on someone who is then even better but again repeating myself this effects everybody. Please leave me some comments so we can discuss this and if you are a brand feel free to reach out and I can perhaps put even more points across. I am not spreading any hate just trying to educate…YOU CAN SIT WITH US.
I think this is a great idea! Although I’m not a wheelchair user myself, my best friend is a C5 tetraplegic, so I understand how much the little differences can make life so much easier. I really admire you for campaigning this, and I really hope brands get on board, too.