As part of my desire to bring you a better picture of modern Nashville style I was really looking forward to the grand opening of a new boutique downtown by a well-respected, award winning designer. When I got there I found a quaint little house with three entrances, all of which had at least three steps to traverse. It was completely inaccessible. Fast forward several days and a visit to a vintage store I had messaged ahead of time and given assurances that the side door was wheelchair accessible. It was not. If you thought the Americans with Disabilities Act was effective in granting overall access to the disabled think again. (The vintage shop has promised to become accessible so I’m giving them the opportunity to do so before I call them out by name).
When I encounter obstacles such as these it’s difficult for me not to get frustrated if I can’t immediately see a solution. To me, this is segregation just as surely as a “Whites Only” sign was before the Civil Rights movement. It may not be malicious or prejudiced in nature but the implication is that the disabled are unwelcome in these establishments that are inaccessible. I am, by nature, a “fixer”. If I see a problem my first inclination isn’t to feel sorry for myself. Instead, I try to solve it. It is only when I can find no viable solution that I start to stew or sulk. After all, I’m just one person, and all too often a lone voice gets carried off by the wind without ever being heard.
But I’m not one person anymore, am I? If you’re reading this chances are good that you are either disabled, or plus-sized, or over 40, or otherwise someone who has been dismissed by the cut-throat, misogynistic, exclusionary fashion industry.
In my lifetime I have seen the Civil Rights movement recognize that African-Americans should have equal rights. The Feminist movement lift women out of traditional roles and afford them choices previously unheard of. The Gay Rights movement garner social and legal acceptance of alternative sexual orientation. The common thread here is these are all social movements, driven by a collective that simply stand together and consistently exert their social influence until society begins to recognize their validity. I see absolutely no reason why we – the disabled, middle-aged, curvy, or all of the above demographic – shouldn’t come together to be positive instruments for lasting social acceptance and inclusion.
To that end, I’m starting a movement. I think the best way for our ilk to be recognized collectively is for each of us to become a Roll Model; pun intended.
I’m starting a page that will serve as a directory of every fashion blog, lifestyle blog, or individual that wants to band together to support positive social change for their cause. You can read more about it here. We have all become friends and mutual admirers through the internet. We can now become supportive, vocal, empowered partners that can make a real difference in each others’ lives.
I’ll be joining her in becoming a roll model! – Deb