To say it has not been easy finding myself is an understatement, that’s for sure.
I put my parents through virtual hell from age 10 until my early twenties. I’ll spare you the details for now, but let’s just say…
Delinquent depressed teenage girl + mom fed up and near nervous breakdown = Shipped off to boarding school far, far away.
Like many teenage girls, I was really insecure and wanted to be accepted so badly that I literally cried out for attention. Everything was black & white, and I remember worrying constantly…
What if no-one saves me a seat at lunch? What if I NEVER get invited to Homecoming? What if no boy EVER really likes me?
I wanted to have the “perfect body” and “perfect boyfriend” just like Seventeen Magazine told me I could have and should have. There were no Dove “Real Beauty” campaigns back in the 80’s. When Kate Moss said, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” I believed her, and so did millions of other girls.
And if having a positive body image wasn’t hard enough, the fact that I had a physical disability I didn’t understand put me (and my poor parents) over the edge.
The Invisible Disability With A Dumb Name
I learned in 2nd grade (a painful nerve conduction test proved it) that I had a neuromuscular disorder called Charcot Marie Tooth Disorder (CMT).
Learn about Charcot Marie Tooth Disorder here.
I didn’t want to learn or talk about having a neuromuscular disorder; especially not my feelings about it.
If someone asked me why I couldn’t run or jump, I’d say “I was in a ski accident “ or another lie involving a sport I wished that I could do.
I had fears floating around my terrified teenage brain that I never talked about with anyone…
What if my dropfoot trips me and I fall down the stairs?
Since I can’t run, how will I get away if someone tries to grab me?
What if I get worse like my mom?
What if no one wants to date me EVER because of my disability?
All that worrying about “ what if’s” prevented me from figuring out who I was.
I hid my body under baggy clothing because I felt damaged and ugly on the inside.
Kicking Disability In The Ass
There was no epiphany or spiritual awakening.
I just grew up and decided I was over worrying about the things I could not control, and I focused for the first time in my life on the things I could.
After getting a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan, I learned my passion was helping girls and women with self-esteem related issues from my first job as a therapist and teen empowerment educator (making a $22,000 a year ) at a social service agency in Chicago.
I got married. Had kids.
Got married again. Added step-kids.
I try to exercise every day (mostly).
It’s hard to move my muscles sometimes.
I do it anyhow.
- I love fashion and expressing my personality through it.
- I love helping friends and family find clothing that fits their personality (regardless of any disability).
- I find that a perfectly fitted outfit, new lipstick, or accessory illuminating your eyes and/or personality has the power to also boost confidence, ultimately allowing people to feel better.
- Fashion for people with invisible physical disabilities is nearly non- existent. There are some brands designing for disabled people but their focus is on visible (wheelchair dependent) disabilities.
- As an AFO (leg brace) wearer, the shoe catalogues geared toward people “like me” feature smiling grannies on the cover, wearing ugly black velcro “comfort” shoes that are definitely not my style.
- I started to wonder if there are other women out there with invisible disabilities who want to look and feel their best but settle for shoes or clothing because they fit.
- I spent hours researching other invisible physical disabilities, stalking online support groups and talking to women with MS, Arthritis and Lupus to name a few. These women share similar feelings and challenges.
Trend-ABLE is for perfectly imperfect women with invisible physical disabilities, like myself, can meet, hang out, share tips, and inspire one another to look and feel our very best.
I hope you will join me in the newly formed Trend-ABLE community.