There is something I have to get off my chest. At the risk of sounding entitled or whiny I am choosing to edit my words to make them more palatable. However I am annoyed and hurt right now and have been for some time. I never told you all this but I volunteered to do a shoot with my sister for her job. All I needed to do was get my hair done and show up to be photographed. Things went smoothly at first but as soon as it was time for my pictures to be taken things went a little downhill.
The photographer did not try to help direct me or pose me in any way. She seemed annoyed that I was even there to be a model for my sister. She quickly took shots before saying she was done and sitting down. My sister came to help me back into my wheelchair. Immediately after my shoot a beautiful able bodied girl came up and the photographer, videographers and others who were there immediately began encouraging her, praising her, giving her direction. It was as if the room had been asleep during my session and suddenly woke up just in time to cheer this girl on. I felt embarrassed and due to frustration and depression I requested to be seated outside so that I could be alone.
I just wanted to support my sister but in the process I allowed others to make me feel ugly and useless. Feelings I’d already had but had suppressed for this shoot. I went in with great intentions and was shot down. As I sat outside and reflected on what had just taken place I became despondent and even when my sister came out to check on me I didn’t want to talk. I face timed my other sister and begged her and my mom to come pick me up. They had to drive some 30 minutes to get me so in that time I just had to sit there hearing them cheer on someone they obviously found more desirable.
Fast forward to now and another situation has unfolded. A company I admire has been giving me what I feel to be the run around. I can’t give too much detail because it would give the company up and I don’t agree with openly blasting people or companies online or in real life. I’d rather endure the offense than fight for myself. My sister however feels I am being taken advantage of and that they never wanted to work with me from the beginning. That they probably just said yes to work with me because they didn’t want to make me feel bad.
I choose to be brave and try to work with companies even though I have a disability and use a wheelchair. But as soon as I reveal this to them ( mainly fashion brands) they quickly turn me down or make an excuse of why I’m not the appropriate fit. I’m not an activist and I don’t claim to be but I would love to one day see the perception of people with disabilities changed. Yes we may have to do things differently but we are not incapable of doing great things. Stop counting us out.
The photographer, this company and any other person who sees a disabled person and immediately feels that they should be cast out. Shame on you. Please take the time to educate yourself before assuming we can do nothing for you. Before deeming us undesirable because we don’t fit your mold. I am thankful for companies like Beauty Butler, Chase Ford Events, The Makeup Show Orlando, The Premiere Orlando show, and countless other companies that have reached out and actually followed through with their initial request to work with me. These companies were informed of my disability and were the nicest companies to meet and work with.
I am not asking you to slap a ” I love disabled people” sticker on your forehead but what I am asking is that you give us the same opportunities you give abled bodied people. Stop seeing us as unworthy. Stop seeing us as an imposition and instead view us as an asset. I admire women like Danielle Sheypuk and Jillian Mercado who are paving their own way in their chosen fields. Thank you to brands like IZ Collection who create beautiful clothing for disabled men and women. We are not useless, undesirable or incapable of doing wonderful things. We just need a chance. Is that to much to ask?
Share your positive thoughts in the comments below please and thank you.