Happy Disability Pride Month. I’m in my 20’s and I didn’t know Disability Pride Month was a thing until July last year. When was the first time you saw an ad from a brand in any media that depicted loving your body disability & all? When was the last? Brands have taken steps to make inclusive products for people with disabilities making more of an effort for disability pride and body positivity messaging, but there is still more to do. Although some industries have taken steps to be more inclusive, it’s still a novelty, it still seems like there aren’t enough options to fit a person’s style and disability concerns, and if that’s the case how can we send the message of being body positive while having pride in being part of the disability community?
When I just started my teenage years, my mom asked if I wanted to have a magazine subscription to one of the popular ones at the time. I don’t remember why she thought it would be good for me or the magazine that I choose, but I do remember scrolling through the articles, and even doing the quizzes. I loved reading each issue, but I didn’t see any content in these magazine issues were young women that looked like me, a wheelchair user, or a person with a disability. I wished the content was there, but I didn’t think much of it not being there, if that makes sense, it just was expected.
Years ago when we started talking about body positivity, the focus was on the fact that girls don’t look like advertisements in magazines, retouched and airbrushed until they fit some standard of what beauty was “supposed” to be at the time. True, but skinny versus curvy is hardly the only way your body can be different. From skin tone to cures to disabilities and mobility devices, there are so many different ways to address body type, but the body positivity message only focused or should I say still mostly focused on one. What does that mean for the other body types for the message of body positivity for girls whose bodies fell into being different in another way? Is there a body-positive message for people with disabilities in the media or in other industries, one that teaches disability pride and body positivity? If so, how do we create it on a bigger scale?
Disability Pride and Body Positivity: Where Is The Celebration, Inclusion & Representation?
Disability Pride Month, awesome, but where is the celebration? During Women’s History, Hispanic Heritage Month, and many others we have news stories, commercials full of fun facts, and specials about amazing people who fit into these categories which is amazing. Nonetheless, when it comes to disability, there isn’t much, if any of that. When I think of all the questions that people have asked me over the years regarding my disability, I can’t help but wonder where this negative connotation of disability came from, wondering how we get it to stop? How are we going to teach the next generation of people with disabilities that they should be proud of the journey their disability has taken them, disability pride and body positivity on if there is the belief that being disabled means your life is sad when that’s simply not the case?
Industries Have Started Paying More Attention To People With Disabilities …. Recently
When I first had the idea for this blog, a big part of the reason I wanted to do it had to do with the fact that here there is this misconception that disability means you’re in for a sad life. I was tired of looking for tips in the fashion and beauty industries and seeing that due to the fact that I typed disability in the search bar too, I kept getting medical information, not answers to my questions. I wanted The Sitting Beauty brand to be one that talks fashion and Disability lifestyle because yes I’m a woman with a disability who likes disabilities and I know I’m not the only one.
People with disabilities are just like everyone else, we go to school, we want to work, we have dates and have families of our own, hang out with friends, love to travel, and more. We just see the world from a different perspective and have to approach doing activities differently occasionally. We have the same wants as everyone else, but somehow this one aspect of our lives or our bodies makes us seem like we need to be treated completely differently. Society has made changes, people have spoken up, but we are far from done.
There are a few brands in the fashion industry that have made changes, but not all the clothes are all that stylish. When I put together an outfit when I’m looking at the finished product in the mirror, I want to either be thinking of the words that I know describe my style or, this is cute I look great, not oh well if I was standing I would look better. I want my clothing to be stylish and functional so that I don’t have to consider going with something that’s not my style just because it functions in a way that I need as a woman with a disability. Style and functionality is a thing and I applaud the brands that have kept that in mind when designing clothes for those of us with disabilities.
We’ve come so far in such a short time, 7 or 8 years most of these adaptive fashion – (still not a fan of this term)-lines did not exist, and the ones that did, weren’t getting as much attention. Since then we’ve had Tommy Hilfiger, Aerie Real campaigns, and a few others. It’s an amazing start, but I hope in the future we continue in this direction with models with disabilities, photos of models sitting down and standing for all clothing types, and maybe even more accessible stores that don’t use their accessible fitting as a storage space with a few more people with disabilities working in retail.
I’d also love to see more representation in ad campaigns and movies where they hire people with disabilities to play those roles as well as others. People with disabilities can star in projects where the disability isn’t the main part of the story and people need to see that. Inclusion Matters, Representation matters, Broadway Star, and Tony Award Winner Alyson Stroker is a great example that people with disabilities are capable of roles that have nothing to do with the disability. I honestly hope that this progresses in the same way we view technology, it gets better and better year after year and maybe just maybe, one day, it won’t be such a novelty
Happy Disability Pride month!! It’s hard and it may always seem like you don’t know what to do or what steps to take, but you’ll get there. Be proud of the disability your journey takes you on and the body it has given, it’s not going to be easy and you don’t have to love every aspect of your body 100% of the time, disability or not I doubt anybody does, but be proud of the person you are and how far you have come.
Remember: Fashion, Beauty Life, it’s a process, have fun with it all