The complexities and challenges of being disabled are further compounded when keeping up with fashion mores and trends which can change at the turn of a heel. However, the fashion community has taken the problem to task, seeing model and amputee Jack Eyers and RJ Mitte ,of Breaking Bad fame, walking in high-profile shows. Wheelchair-bound writer Alex Taylor articulates the physical and mental barriers to staying fashionable and fighting off the unflattering stereotypes against disabled people in his recent essay for the The Telegraph.
"The implicit acceptance is that the main focus should be on surviving, not living well and looking good," he writes, arguing that style is not a luxury reserved for a few. Yet, much of the language surrounding the culture of disabled people is empowering, as we see in the Special Olympics, for example. So, when it comes to style, not enough can be said to encourage one's fashion sense.
If having good taste is to have a developed sense of self, than no one, regardless of their disabilities, should be discouraged from seeking to express themselves aesthetically. Yet, most clothes are made for people standing up and as a wheelchair user, Alex Taylor needed to rout the problem of proportion and fit which usually meant sizing up on his clothes.
"The sizing trick is something I follow, painfully aware that sitting can make your stomach look bigger than it actually is (at least that's what I tell myself)," he explains with some humor before doubling-down on how exasperating the smallest things can be when getting dressed or trying on clothes. "In truth, disabled people can feel more pressure to look tidy. The cool "messy" look on an able-bodied young man tends to be perceived as unkempt if you are a wheelchair user or have an obvious disability."
Attempting new looks and styles is daring for any of us, but for those like Alex Taylor, the challenge is all the more apparent. Disabled persons are often judged first by their difference and not by, say, their leather jacket. Yet, Taylor is unafraid to cut a figure, "When I go out, I know people will be looking at me due to my chair, so I am keen to look my best and show them who I am."