Autostraddle author Carrie writes about finding her comfort zone with fashion and fighting the expectation to be femme and dress impeccably to hide her disability. Her experiences with having a physical disability and trying to prove that she is still capable/desirable are unique to her disability, but can also be relevant for people with other disabilities, visible or not. Clothes mean something else when your body exists outside the ‘norm’. If you wear sweatpants all the time because you’re tired, or if you wear loose-fitting clothes because of IBS or no bra for back pain, those choices (and they’re not even really choices) further reflect your disability. Each day when I get dressed I have to consider not only how my outfit will reflect my gender identity/presentation, but how it will reflect my chronic illness. Like Carrie talks about in her article, I feel the need to dress up, wear makeup, be “stylish” to prove that I am still fully functioning and not lazy, that I haven’t given up. These markers are much more assumed when others know or can see your disability. Finding clothes that make you feel comfortable in public and private is made even more difficult with the added expectations put on you as a disabled person in society. As Carrie says, accurately:
Being a disabled woman often feels like choosing between these life paths:
- Object of Pity/Perpetual Child,
- Inspirational Overachiever,
- Fetish Toy, or
- Good Disabled Girl Who Makes Sure Everyone Likes Her.
The fact that articles like this are being posted on Autostraddle (and even some not ableist ones on Buzzfeed) is really exciting and important, and hopefully will mean that disability will continue to be considered not only by people within the disability community, but in other socially aware, for lack of a better word, communities as well.