This blog is all about disability pride- the month of July may be over but how important it is to support and continue learning about disability pride cannot be understated.
We (Jasmine and Victoria) are deeply committed to equal, fair and joyful representation of all you wonderful humans but I (Victoria) put my hands up- I was slow to write this blog and find the words I wanted to share in the time frame we had set but that’s something we are both learning to be ok with.
As co-founders we love and support each other and I am super grateful for Jasmines’ never ending understanding because it is not something I have been used to receiving.
Disability is a mainstream experience in every demographic; it’s just not represented that way.1 in 5 people in the UK are disabled so we are here to highlight that and normalise it!To help you understand why we are so passionate about this, it’s time for me (Victoria) to disclose some things…
First things first- I am invisibly disabled.
I know I do not owe anyone my medical background; I am however happy to share it, something I choose to do that not every person with a disability is comfortable or happy to do and not something they must do to make the non disabled people around them happy. (That sounds a little sassy and I’m not sure I’m sorry about that ;-)).
I have multiple gastrointestinal and pain related conditions that I have acquired over the last few years as a result of conditions and surgeries and medications and as it is Gastroparesis awareness month for August the timing of this blog is pretty good seeing as that is the first condition I was ever diagnosed with- after a perforated ulcer nearly killed me in 2012.
Gastroparesis is the partial or complete paralysis of the stomach, meaning it cannot break down food properly leading to nausea, bloating, feeling full after very small amounts of food and all manner of other symptoms.
A ‘normal’ stomach can digest food in around 30 minutes- mine takes 14 hours. I have had multiple procedures to help alleviate this including botox injections to freeze the opening between my stomach and intestine wider and surgery to create a second exit between my stomach and intestine to aid digestion. This lead to my intestine becoming diseased and that is now also slowly becoming paralysed.
It has been a slow journey into disability and I only really applied that word to myself in the last 3 years- it wasn’t until talking to someone else about their mobility aid that I realised I was in pure denial about my abilities physically; I still fight my own internalised ableism, still feel I am not disabled enough or that I should be grateful for my good days or somehow glad ‘things aren’t worse’.. It’s a hard one to overcome (not a fan of that word either) but the more I have learned, the more I have been through and see others go through- I cannot be quiet any longer.
I have found my courage and I know I am privileged to do so- and I don’t feel I can squander that. If I can help even one person feel seen, understood, worthy and loved.. Then it is worth the uphill push that is disability advocacy as a non apparent disabled woman living in an ableist society.
Being proud to be disabled after many horrible experiences has been a powerful change for me- accepting that disabled isn’t a bad word and applying that label in a way of my choosing has helped me grow as a person, as a business owner, as a friend and certainly as a disability advocate and speaker.
It doesn’t mean I don’t have down days or question my own implicit bias on the subject; my views change the more I learn and that’s something I have come to embrace and what I hope others can learn to do when they begin to see disability normalised, in mainstream media, in fashion, in sport. In every aspect of life, disability is part of the human experience and always has been.
Now, there are plenty of incredible bad ass people with disabilities that we love to learn from but I know Jasmine agrees when I say Sophie Butler has become a firm favourite for us- her Sunday School posts do so much to teach people and her positive, authentic and powerful voice has certainly changed a lot of narratives- look at her collaboration with Gym Shark, her cover image on Cosmopolitan- fantastic work and we can’t wait to see what she does next.
I then want to send your attention to Clara Holmes aka @rollinfunky as I have been following her for years and have even had the pleasure of meeting her at a talk once and she is just as wonderfully glamourous in real life. Her fashion takes and just her way of being bring absolute joy to my heart and I hope you’ll enjoy her just as much.
There are so many other advocates and heroes of mine so I’ll just pop a few of their Instagram handles below so you can get to the good stuff without hearing me waffle on any longer.
@aaron___philip (Aaron Rose Philip)
@_sambosworth (Sam Bosworth)
@flyboilyfestyle (Antwan Tolliver)
@crutches_ad_spice (Imani Barbarin)
@wheelchair_rapunzel (Alex Dacy She/Her)
@thedisabledhippie (Julian Gavino He/Him)
@tess.daly (Tess Daly She/Her)
@perrybarrellie (Perry Barrellie Him/His)