Once, I called out a guy when I was the only girl in a group. We were in our English class and the guy joked about the character we were reading about. “No one would fuck a girl who has a wooden leg. At least she cooks and does the dishes, though,” he said. In a matter of seconds, this guy pushed the oh hell no button inside my brain. I told him straight up that his comment was sexist and wrong while the other guys remained quiet in the awkward silence. I felt like it was necessary for me to say that and I don’t regret it especially now that I’ve learned more about what a feminist truly means, but at that moment I think I internalized that comment. I was offended first as a woman, but I felt like it was also an indirect statement that declared disabled women aren’t attractive.
I wear liquid leggings and combat boots and I like to put on blush, mascara and lipstick. I do this for my own pleasure, but I also like to confront what the idea of so-called beauty is for people with disabilities. I love to challenge those who expect me to wear orthopedic shoes and sweatpants all the time. It works the other way too – I leave the house without makeup on sometimes, with a not-too-cute but comfy outfit just because I don’t care to dress myself up and just because I can. I think fashion gets a bad rep for its superficiality – and I’m not saying that some parts of it aren’t superficial – but I love clothes for being able to make you feel powerful. I love how it can celebrate the body and convey a mood that you’re feeling that day. It can act like armor too, to resist judgment and thoughts from others, but I also know that clothes aren’t there to protect you either. You defend yourself with your thoughts, words, beliefs and actions – they’re what composes your true identity. At the end of the day, we change out of our clothes, but who we are stays with us forever.