Awesome Humans 24 May
How Fashion Helped My Recovery
By Chelsea Pita, May 2021.
It was January 2018; I was 18 years old and set out to enjoy a fun day out with family before I moved away to University, it wasn’t meant to be a memorable day. Instead, it became one of the most important days in my life. The day my life changed both physically and psychologically forever, when I became a wheelchair user.
I wouldn’t say it changed for the better, but I wouldn’t say for the worse either. My life just simply changed. I sustained a Spinal Cord Injury from a swimming accident, leaving me paralysed from my hips down. It has been three years, and for two out of those three years, I was depressed, anxious, lonely and isolated. I lied, trying to convince everyone, including myself, that I was okay when I felt the complete opposite.
Things began to change for me by the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, I got to the point where I was sick of feeling this way, and I knew the only person who could change this was me. I wanted part of my old self back. I wanted the determination, self-worth, acceptance and awareness. I just didn't know how to get it.
That’s when I discovered fashion…
Social Media led me to see more disabled people part of the Fashion Industry and people who looked like me as models, I decided to reach out and see if it is something I could do.
Fashion has led me to be more confident, accepting of my disability and given me a platform to raise more awareness about the inclusion of the disability community through modelling. Fashion has helped me express who I am, I didn’t know the power of fashion, art and creation could have on helping shape a persons' perspective and acceptance of others until I started my journey into Fashion as a person who is disabled.
I would encourage you, if your disability is newly acquired, to use your social media as a platform to follow the diverse community of disabled models and fashion influencers, as it has been a way for me to find more of my community and it might help you too.
My experience as a disabled model has been great so far. Disabled or not, everyone I have worked with and for has treated me well. They don't pity me. They treat me how they would treat anyone else, with the bonus addition of wheelchair accessibility in the workplace. Finding my community through fashion has been incredibly helpful in my journey to discover what’s next.
Picture: Chelsea Pita (@chelseapita_) in Tommy Hilfiger Hoodie
I always thought I wasn't stereotypically pretty enough to be a model; being disabled pushed me even more towards that assumption. But, that was a false truth I had to break through and once I took a chance and got my first modelling job I thought I can do this, and I love it too. Platforms like EveryHuman make it easier for us to find our community and be represented. All I can say to anyone going through something like I did, or if you're going through any sort of change in your life, is that you have nothing to lose from reaching out and trying your best. If anything, you have more to gain.
With the cooler months coming up, I wanted to add a warmer item to my wardrobe; that’s when I came across a Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive wear Block Logo Sweatshirt on the EveryHuman Website. When I got the opportunity to model for EveryHuman, I got to shoot in one of their adaptive t-shirts with similar adaptive features to the sweatshirt I came across. They both feature Velcro closures at the shoulders designed seamlessly. I enjoyed the closures on the t-shirt, so I know I will enjoy them on the sweatshirt, making it easier for those with limited mobility to dress themselves. Style and warmth here I come.
Fashion is self-expression and we all deserve that opportunity to express ourselves.