Saturday, 31 August 2013

Blogger In A Wheelchair, Really?!?

empty wheelchair

Today's blogpost could be somewhat therapeutic for me. Writing down how you feel helps, apparently. I want to write about something that happened this week.

I didn't think I was any different to you….

You would think people of today would not bat an eyelid at a woman in a wheelchair, but unfortunately they do. And they do so appallingly.

I purposely have never written a blogpost about my current predicament of being in a wheelchair because I'm not one to seek attention and pity from our readers. But after the dreadful reaction I received from other fashion bloggers/stylists earlier this week at a high end fashion event, I feel compelled to.

I never imagined in my wildest dreams that people would react to me in such an abhorrent manner. I know people stare, of course they do, but that's usually a sympathetic smile accompanied with a slight tilt of their head. I've accepted that and got used to it.

But on Wednesday, it was nothing like that. It was sheer revulsion.

I knew people were going to stare and as I said, I accept that. I know other ladies can be a bit cliquey - I've witnessed bitchiness at other blogging events - and I have noted the cliques, the groups which stick together. But I stay out of it. I'm not like that. I don't wish to get involved with blogging politics and always rise above and conduct myself in a more professional manner.

However, I may as well have walked in completely naked and I daresay would have received a similar response. Quite a few of the women stared at me, but not out of curiosity. Nope, instead they stared at me with the words "What the f*ck are YOU doing here?" quite clearly written across their faces.

I have never struggled with networking and, in fact, always enjoy this part of any event. I love to meet and have a good old chinwag with other fashion peeps. But on this day, no one wanted to talk to me. They glared at me with such contempt I burst into tears. Yep, I burst into tears at a press event!

The lovely press officer was wonderful and came to my aid with a glass of water and a tissue to wipe away my tears. For the remaining twenty minutes (felt like hours) I was on my own sniffling.

I am sure a lot of my tears could be due to the fact that I am still finding it difficult adjusting to my new situation and being told only the other week that I could be like this for two years. It's been a testing time and I have tried to remain positive and upbeat throughout, but Wednesday's press event brought everything back to how fragile I feel.

I never imagined my current mobility issues would be such a problem, but as I have been told by others, it's the small-minded peoples' problem not mine.

For much of the event, I was sat (in wheelchair) at the exit so every lady had to squeeze past me to leave the venue due to the tight space. One lady even tutted at me and did a very loud sigh because I was in her way. Another pulled a face, blatantly stating 'Ugh', and shook her head in disgust. Eyes rolled, eyebrows raised and big gasps of air were exhaled by many of these women.

Like I said, I know there is plenty of bitchiness, especially in fashion blogging. But the event on Wednesday was on a whole different level, and felt like being bullied at school, except the entire school had fell out with me.

I am not going to mention which high end fashion store this was at, nor am I going to name the PR. It was not their fault. It was others in attendance who were so awful. And no,  I am not going to mention their names, I would much rather forget about people like that.

But I do still have a bitter taste in my mouth; as you can imagine, this was a very distressing occasion for me and I am sure people in similar circumstances to myself have encountered the same.

Thankfully, there was one lovely blogger there and I am going to give this wonderful lady a mention Emma Ianarilli who writes at Emma stayed with me until my husband came to collect me and listened to me blubbering until he arrived. Every fashion blogger (especially in the Midlands) knows Emma, she is always the ray of sunshine at any press event, smiling in the corner. Smashing lady!

And even if these other fashion bloggers and so-called stylists think I shouldn't be blogging because I cannot dress up whilst parading around in a wheelchair, then UP THEIRS! I will carry on and I never intend to stop, wheelchair or no wheelchair.

I will carry on wearing comfortable clothing and, yes my hair and make-up probably don't look as good as they used to, but you try applying make-up when you're off your head on morphine. I wish I did have a personal assistant who could do all these things for me, but I live in the real world. Our motto at IAIT is to be ourselves because that's all we can be.

We're not a fashion blog which reels off pages and pages of photos of ourselves because we think you would want to wear what we wear. Nor are we going to show off expensive purchases when Topshop probably has something similar and much more affordable to our readers. Yes, Sam and I do purchase some high-end products but we like to mix it up with high street fashion too. And if we can bag ourselves a bargain, then all the better!

Should I feel guilty for going? And maybe I should stay at home in the future? I won't have to experience anything like this again and nor will I let the fashion blogging community down by attending with my grotesque wheelchair as my main accessory.

Do you know how difficult it has been for me to remain upbeat and positive since end of June when this first happened? There have been many times within the confinement of my four walls at home where I have been desperately upset because I am distraught being like this and trying to adjust to this way of life.

I know things could be worse, much worse, but change of any sort can be difficult for people to adapt to. And I never envisaged other people's reactions would be so offensive. Never.

I understand some people may feel embarrassed and think someone sat in a wheelchair couldn't possibly be human with feelings and as just as normal as anyone else. I know they are more likely to avoid me, I accept that. But I will not accept people being downright rude and offensive.

I really wanted to put a picture of myself sitting in my wheelchair at the top of this page. But in the end I decided to not add one. I am honestly worried people will make derogatory comments about what I look like.

I shall step down from my soapbox now, sorry, wheel myself off it in an unstylish fashion. Weeeeeeee!

Teresa x