I love fashionnnnn.
My love makes me draw out the end of the word so you know I emphatically love itttttt.
(I’m not sorry.)
Now, I love fashion, but I am not so much a fashionista in the sense that I wear trendy clothes and makeup all the time. (OK, ever, but whatever.)
- I don’t always have the bank account.
- I don’t always have the energy (being on pointe fashion-wise seems to be exhausting!)
But I love to look. Oh fashion, how I adore looking at you!
I used to subscribe to nearly every fashion magazine possible. Every month, my mailbox was overflowing with trendy glossy pages.
After being a subscriber for a number of years, I realized an unfortunate truth that the magazine world doesn’t really want consumers to know: it’s highly redundant.
Whether or not they plan to, lots of magazines cover the same topics in the same month. They might have different clothing in their spreads, but the “theme” tends to be strikingly similar. After 2 or 3 years, it’s like the editions begin to repeat themselves.
For instance, pin straight hair was a big deal a few years ago. Then came beachy waves. Pin straight hair came back for a hot second. Now we’re back to beachy waves. Hang on to your overalls, your neon spandex, your boyfriend cardigans, and military-inspired boots. Give it a year or so and you can shop your closet and be back to trendy once again.
Nowhere is this lather-rinse-repeat cycle of fashion more apparent than in the “look” of models in New York City’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.
For those not in the “know,” Fashion Week happens twice a year in fashion capital cities (New York/Milan/Paris)-but Spring (hosted for a week in February) in New York is a BIG.DEAL. This is where the year’s styles are doled out by the big designers, which leads to the trickle down effect made famous by Meryl Streep’s “Cerulean Monologue” in The Devil Wears Prada (such a great movie! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzu-RgorcSo).
Models are supposed to be clothes hangers, right?
Somewhere someone started taking that sarcastic sentiment to heart and there is a severe lack of diversity on runways.
That is, until this year…
Enter the FTL MODA show at this year’s New York Fashion Week.
They teamed up with Fondazione Vertical, an Italian organization that researches spinal cord injuries, to hire a full set of differently-abled models for their presentation. Models rolled out in wheelchairs, strutted with canes and crutches, and stomped with prosthetic legs.
The clothes were pretty awesome too.
Now, I know that something like this screams “publicity stunt,” and that some people are going to be grumpy about it. Call me naïve, but I don’t think there’s so much wrong with that–in this case (publicity stunts of the West-Kardashian type are a whole different thing!).
If a publicity stunt is the vehicle by which differently-abled models are seen on such an important and influential stage as Fashion Week, then I am all for it. In a backwards way (thanks society) publicity stunts such as this can be a way to bust down the door of so-called “normalcy”, and invite some new faces and abilities to the table.
I happen to live in close proximity to a large Naval hospital, and so on a regular basis, I see differently-abled people in every day situations- at the post-office, on therapeutic bike rides with hand-controlled bikes, standing in line at the grocery store with prostheses on full display. As I see it so often, I do not gawk. It’s not so “different” to me any more. And, sometimes, I forget that 99% of the rest of the world does not see this all the time.
That’s when “publicity stunts” like this fashion show come into play. It’s on TV, on the Internet, talked about in magazines and newspapers. That’s when “differently abled” no longer stays some foreign thing that one just hears about-it’s right there in front of your face, and that is a beautiful thing.
Everybody has Something. And just because someone’s Something can be seen on the outside does not mean that they aren’t still a part of an invisible population.
People with different abilities (sometimes I get tired of the word “disabilities” because come on…) of all kinds, physical, mental, medical, genetic, etc. are still marginalized, but why? I bet that almost everyone knows someone with a Something. And if you don’t directly, you know someone who knows someone. We’ve got to stop pretending that differently abled people aren’t out here in the world living Chronically Fabulous lives, because we totally are and we should be represented as such.
We wear clothes and makeup, we like trends, and we like to see ourselves represented in displays of fashionista decadence. I use “we” here as a term of solidarity. You can’t see my Something from a runway view, but it’s there and so I get you, Visible Something Friends, at least on some level.
So, Yay for Fashion Week, and Yay for FTL MODA for their display of inclusiveness!
Have a Chronically Fabulous day, Fashionistas 🙂
Do you like to express yourself through fashion? Tell me about it!