Tag Archives: disabled community

Sundance Channel’s “Push Girls”:”When You Can’t Stand Up, Stand Out”

27 Jun
intro1pushgirls

Photo from sundancechannel.com.

“If you can’t stand up, stand out!” is the motto of Push Girls, the Sundance Channel‘s reality program focusing on five wheelchair-bound women in Los Angeles. (The fifth, Chelsie Hill, makes her debut this season).  None was born disabled; all encountered traumatic accidents or medical conditions as young women. As a result, each is either paraplegic or quadriplegic. It’s an attractive group; in fact, a couple are downright gorgeous as well as gutsy. If you’re feeling down and need something to make you believe in the resilience of humankind, this just might be the show for you.

Models, Wives, Athletes

Like non-seated women, the stars of Push Girls–Auti Angel, Angela Rockwood, Tiphany Adams, and Mia Schakewitz–have been wives, athletes, and models.  As season two begins, Auti and her husband are struggling to keep their marriage together. Model Angela and her ex, who have divorced amicably, have decided that she will keep her lovely Los Angeles house; adaptive athlete Tiphany, along with Mia, practices going down stairs in her chair in case of fire–an instructive scene for anyone who is fully ambulatory and may not realize the difficulties involved. In a girls’ night out scene, Tiphany even rides a mechanical bull.

Aside from the ladies’ being confined to wheelchairs, the situations they face are very much like those other women face. That’s the point.

A Healthy Dose of ‘Tude

Unlike the stars of other reality shows, the Push Girls show us the challenges and victories of their lives, without becoming Debbie Downers on the one hand or demanding that viewers worship them as heroes on the other. Nor do they expect every gesture they make (“Hey! I just tweezed my eyebrows!” ) to become newsworthy. They simply are what they are, with a whole lot of attitude to help them along and lift up the hearts of their audience. As the season progresses, you’ll find there isn’t much the ladies won’t try. Limitations? Not too evident.

Thanks, Sundance

Not since the 2005 documentary film Murderball has there been a video presentation about the disabled evoking this level of inspiration. My only excuse for missing the first season of Push Girls is that my basic-expanded cable lineup doesn’t include the Sundance Channel, but I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the show while researching something else. No worries:  we can all watch it at sundancechannel.com.  With Sundance’s help,  disabled women are gaining more constructive time in the spotlight. Hear, hear!

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Miss Iowa 2013: A True Inspiration. Disability In the Spotlight

11 Jun
disabled beauty, disabled inspiration, disabled fashion, wefly2, beauty pageants

Being born without a forearm  hasn’t slowed down 2013’s Miss Iowa,Nicole Kelly–or lessened her beauty. Photo from the Miss Iowa Facebook page.

“Beauty is Everywhere” is wefly2’s slogan. In Nicole Kelly’s case, one doesn’t have to look hard to find the beauty– or the inspiration. While there have been fashion shows for the disabled in London,  a disabled beauty pageant winner in the US has been unheard of. But Nicole Kelly has made it happen.  Mike Krumboltz of the Upbeat (Yahoo! News)    tells her story (reprinted here in its entirety):

The Story

“Nicole Kelly, the newly crowned Miss Iowa, plans to use her title to help advocate for people with disabilities, reports the DesMoines Register.

Kelly, 23, was born without her left forearm, according to her biography at MissIowa.com (note: site has been intermittently down). Photos can be viewed at the Miss Iowa Facebook page.

After winning the title, Kelly spoke with CBS-4 News. ‘It was shocking and overwhelming—just like that your life changes,’ she said.

‘As I grew up I learned to counterbalance the initial stares I received from people with an outgoing personality that would not give into”‘no,'” Kelly wrote on the pageant site. This means that I tried everything. From baseball, to dance, to diving—there’s nothing I would not try. I found my passion within a world where I was giving people permission to stare: the stage.’

According to Kelly’s biography, she’s currently studying directing and theater management at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She hopes to work on Broadway.

“If you would have told me a year ago that ‘pageant queen’ was in my future I would have laughed,” she wrote. “Giving voice to a platform is a great honor and I am excited to continue my adventure of speaking out and touching lives.”

Kelly will compete in the Miss America pageant on Sept. 15 in Atlantic City, N.J.”

The Inspiration

“I tried everything…would not give in to ‘no'” until “…I found my passion.” There’s a lesson here, whether one is disabled or not.

For everyone who has been mocked or fallen in the dirt amid jeers; for every kid chosen last for a team; for anyone who believed “I can’t” and turned away from a reachable goal, look at Nicole Kelly and take heart. It doesn’t even matter if she wins Miss America this year; her victory in the Miss Iowa pageant shows stunning progress, both for her as an individual and for society. I, for one, intend to watch her on Sept.15.

Sis, My Fashion Friend: Christmas All Year Long

25 Dec
CABI, Christmas, wefly2, jackets

CABI jacket from Sis. Add a cami or sweater plus trouser jeans, and it tops a go-to outfit for many occasions.

Few of us are lucky enough to benefit from a friend’s shopping habit (I don’t mean addiction). But my beautiful sister, Carol F., brings me bags of clothes several times a year, with brands ranging from Merona to Fresh Produce to Michael Kors. Anything that doesn’t work is donated or taken to our favorite consignment store, Poor Little Rich Girl. Even though Sis is taller than I and trendy in her tastes while I tend to be classic, many of her garments are terrific for me, and I believe she reads my mind. For example, I was thinking I needed a nice jacket, and voila! she came up with the great CABI pictured above. Uncanny!

We like to think the donated and consigned clothes are one small way to keep on giving to our community, something our mom, our first fashion teacher, taught us. Although we are generally involved in different non-profits, clothing is the bond we share.  I love you, Sis; thanks for your generosity, to me and to others.

May all of you have a Merry Christmas!

Rockin’ Docs Kick Out the Jams for Diabetes Cure

12 Dec

Philadelphia-area volunteer band the Rockin’ Docs personifies the giving spirit. Each year, the doctors give a concert to raise money for juvenile diabetes (Type 1) research.  This video is not their most recent fund-raising effort; it simply features one of my favorite songs (editorial license–ha!) If you’re a rock ‘n’ roll fan, maybe it will perk up your spirits for that last mad dash of shopping, baking, or navigating sidewalk traffic.

Speaking of physicians and giving, I want to give a shout-out to my medical team, primary-care provider Sharonelle Simmons, M.D.,  and neurologist Nida Laurin, M.D. I am a much better informed patient because of your efforts and intelligence! Thank you for all you do.

Enjoy the Rockin’ Docs!

Wear Orthotics? The Choices Are Improving

22 Oct

The “Chelsea” pump from footsmart.com. Photo from Oct. 2012 Footsmart catalog.

“Abby” shoes by Alegria.

“These inserts. They have to fit in my shoes,”  we might have explained 25-30 years ago, when the term “orthotics” produced blank, zombie-like stares on the faces of sales associates. The styles of shoes that accommodated orthotics back then were, well, very limited. Think “sensible” shoes that nurses might have worn when they were all female and wore white dresses and hats for uniforms.

Nowadays, female nurses don’t wear those shoes…and we don’t have to, either. While orthotics will, by medical necessity, restrict us to low-heeled shoes with roomy toe boxes, we have more selections now. Here are a few places to shop for these cuter styles:

Alegria(alegria.com and stores)

Featuring painted or plain patent-leather slip-ons, lace-ups, and Mary Janes with rocker bottoms, Alegria shoes are head-turners.The whimsical painting–it could be flowers, it could be turtles–removes shoes from the realm of practicality and turns them into works of art. Nevertheless, the shoes can be worn with your orthotics and include removable footbeds. Prices run from $49.99 on sale to about $129.99.  A word of warning: Alegrias are cut wide and tend to run large.You may need a heel liner or insert even if they fit your foot well everywhere else. They are worth it if they do fit. Great way to jazz up any outfit!

Footsmart (footsmart.com)

The folks at footsmart.com have done their homework and taken the guesswork out of shopping. They label shoes “orthotic friendly” (what a blessing!) and offer attractive styles as well–even a low-heeled pump, the “Chelsea,” that accommodates orthotics. If you’re thumbing through the catalog, have patience: the orthotic-friendly shoes come later. Prices range from $79.99-$129.99. Footsmart’s shoes are durable and comfortable. I save up for a pair each year.

Zappos (zappos.com)

If you haven’t shopped at Zappos, for shoes or other items, you’re in for a treat! Although you may find yourself distracted by all the site has to offer, searching for “orthotic friendly” shoes will bring up a substantial list. Featured are athletic shoes of all styles and colors as well as a couple of unexpected nonathletic styles. Price points vary widely; you have to check it out to see.

A Caveat

Some of these shoes are high-priced for those of us who have to budget for medications, doctor visits, and assistive devices. Living on disability checks limits fashion choices as well. For this reason, in the next post I will provide info on lower-priced shoes that are still orthotic-friendly. Come on back!

Fashion for us–A new, supportive community

9 Oct

Ever passed up a terrific ensemble because it wasn’t designed for wheelchair users? Or, like me, have you given up on skirts and dresses because the orthotic-friendly shoes your disability requires look better with pants? Welcome to wefly2, a place for disabled women to dish about fashion fixes, wishes, inspirations–and empowerment.

I am not a fashion pro of any kind. But while watching What Not To Wear (which I love) and seeing loads of stilettos and wedges, I couldn’t help wondering,”How would Stacy and Clinton dress someone who can’t wear shoes like that?” I would also like to see a challenge on Project Runway requiring designers to create an outfit for disabled models, perhaps veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project.

These thoughts, as well as my own disability (peripheral neuropathy) brought wefly2 into existence. Not disabled? I still want to hear from you. Designers, caregivers, family members, home sewers, and many others doubtless have insight into our fashion needs. On this blog, the forums are as important as my posts; all I ask is that we avoid the sniping, uber-bitchy commentary found in some areas of the fashion world. As we meet here to share and explore, let’s keep our tone classy and cordial.

In some corners of the planet–yes, this one!–designers are making clothes for us, and fashion shows are featuring disabled models. More about that later! Stay tuned, and welcome to wefly2!