On the off-chance that you follow me on both this blog and my Premier Pamela blog, you will know that since Monday I’ve been posting fashion boards for Valentine’s Day ensembles of clothing and jewelry every day. Technically, I’m still doing it today and tomorrow (to make it a full Valentine’s Week), but because I got up earlier today than usual, I figured I owed you an explanation here as to why I’ve been MIA.
These fashion boards don’t take that long to start — the boards themselves of outfits take perhaps 10 minutes, but then to add the jewelry from my business is a whole other issue. One completed, fully accessorized fashion board alone could take an entire hour, I’ve discovered, if I’m working with the wrong photo of a piece of jewelry, so like any other creative endeavor, they have been time intensive (and as a result I’ve posted some of them quite late at night). To cut time a little shorter, I’ve begun putting the base of the boards (i.e., the outfits) together before bed each night so that the next day I can concentrate solely on the jewelry.
But I do come back with plenty to share with you besides my newfound habit of publicly putting outfits together! It does kind of inspire me to share some suggestions with the ladies in my audience, too — because being able to break back into my old flare for fashion was a tremendous challenge back in the day — so it could help some of you as well!
I will warn you now that what’s to follow, in the grand scheme of things, may seem shallow and insignificant, but I believe it’s all to do with the ever-important issue of self-image, which means the world to each of us.
I remember for the first year after the hospital, I was forced to wear gym shoes every day because I had been fit for an ankle-foot orthotic (or AFO), and it was safest for me to walk with it. This meant I wasn’t supposed to ever wear a shoe that didn’t have laces that was also not large enough to fit the orthotic. I was pretty bummed — forget the prospect of heels! Or anything open-toed. Even boots were a no-no, and being this restricted in footwear meant, subsequently, that I was also limited to what clothes I could wear. An AFO meant no skirts, no dresses.
(As a reminder I used to be — and still am now — the type of girl who never wore gym shoes outside of the gym or during sports.)
So to me, the only outfits appropriate for my designated footwear now were sporty pantsuits (I had a pink velour one: This was when Juicy Couture first became huge), jeans, sweatshirts. Not to mention the embarrassment of needing to ask people if they could tie my shoes for me.
In short, I was forced to almost entirely suppress my fashion sense. As time has gone on, as you know, I was able to wean myself off the AFO. Some people think this was a poor safety choice, but it was a necessary improvement for me. Now, when I walk, at least I know I am activating my own muscles to propel myself forward and/or prevent myself from falling. Not to mention, being able to dress the way I would like to boosted my confidence considerably, allowing me to express myself through style as I found integral to my daily existence prior to my condition. (Some traits just stay with you no matter what.)
I remember my first fashion breakthrough: It was during my year abroad in Florence, and I discovered legwarmers!
|From http://bit.ly/12usNQg (not me)|
This was HUGE for me. I could wear skirts again, and they didn’t look absolutely ridiculous with sneakers — a legwarmer hid my AFO just enough so that you couldn’t really see it, and I rejoiced!
Of course, my high was then brought to a crash when a roommate of mine, the one who never understood compassion. (This was the same girl who sneered as she peeled a cucumber for me and asked, “Is this actually hard for you?” — among many other slights.) I don’t remember exactly what she said when I announced my discovery, but I remember feeling infuriated at her complete lack of enthusiasm. Crushed, even, that she didn’t care or appreciate how huge this was.
As a sidenote, I just want to say — there are people out there who have and haven’t been closely exposed to disabilities. In my near-decade of experience, people have ranged from crying at the news to barely even registering what any of it means, to anything in between, and though it can be extremely frustrating to handle certain people’s reactions, you have to remember that everyone perceives different things in their own way. Just as he or she doesn’t know your experience, you don’t know theirs either. We all live our own realities, and nothing someone else says or does to you is actually about you.
It has actually taken me a long time to learn to forgive this ex-roommate of mine, and while I’m still not eager to strike up a new relationship with her, I have at least reached the point where I am no longer angry with her. And that is a big step!
Anyway, the point is, I’m more than happy to help you find your own versions of legwarmers and lay out fashion boards for you. (The ones I do for my jewelry business are certainly not all outfits I personally could wear. I’m still working on the heel thing!)
To our healing,