Just Stimming…

A land we can share (a place I can map)

#DressingWhileDisabled

with 93 comments

The shoes.
There are two stories I could tell you.

One: I’m clinging to my roommate’s arm, trying to (re)learn how to walk in heels.

Two: a friend sent me a pair of shoes.

*****

One: I wore heels, once. I was in a choir, a choir that was a Really Big Deal, and the high school girls had to wear character shoes. I got the lowest possible heel, and I was okay, mostly.

I liked how they sounded on the floor, so sometimes I wore them in college, or to DD council meetings, or when I went to Washington. I think they had maybe a half-inch heel.

I lost my character shoes in the move. Two years went by. I tore all the muscles in my left ankle, every last one, and I couldn’t go to physical therapy.

I put on a new pair of heels, and I knew, instantly that I didn’t remember how to do this.

*****

Two: my life looks very different from high school. I am connected now, in some pretty formal ways, to hundreds of disabled people all across the world. A couple of weeks ago, one of those people, a Facebook friend who has done a lot to show me what living with pride and joy in a disabled body looks like, posted that she had somehow wound up with a pair of mary janes that were far too big for her. Did any crip femmes she knew want them?

They were a size 11. I usually only have 1 pair of shoes at a time, and let me tell you, finding cute shoes in your size when you are over six feet tall is not easy. I said so. She sent me a picture, I noted they had heels, we worked out the logistics.

A few days ago, they arrived. I was having a bad hands day, so my roommate helped me open the box.

The Roommate opening the box.

I did remember how to put them on by myself.

*****

I am autistic. Just like the screenings warn, I walked on my toes when I was little, and until I hurt my ankle this summer, I still did. I can dance, kind of, not really. In my own way. I have a lot of trouble with conventional femininity: I wear long skirts and long hair after a religious upbringing, but I don’t have the motor skills or the patience or the social-cognitive something for most of the work required to do femme traditionally. I can’t put on my own makeup or paint my nails; I can’t fasten any clothes that a typical six year-old can’t. I used to be able to pin up my braids, but I lost that skill sometime last year after going too long without OT. The day you see me with my hair perfectly coiffed and my eyes carefully made up, in a coat that buttons and boots with no zippers, is the day you know I’ve either been married or placed on a Medicaid waiver.

Like a lot of disabled women hoping no one notices we’ve snuck into the professional world, I cling to the few scraps of traditional femininity I can hold on to with my teeth. My friend, another autistic woman in the workplace, calls it “femme-NOS.”

I am wearing the shoes.

Being able to wear heels again would be a big deal.

*****

“We’re gonna walk around the room,” my roommate says, and I nod and hang on for dear life.

“Why did you want these?” he asks.

“The gala,” I say, grimly. One of these days I am going to be dressed to kill.

“Okay,” he says. At the last gala, he helped ferry me from guest to guest, guiding me through the crowd and staving off meltdowns and making the loudest night of the year mildly enjoyable.

“We’ll have to practice a lot.”

*****

One of my other friends runs a blog called CP Shoes, about disability and shoes and some other things. I know as soon as I volunteer to take the shoes that I am going to want to write a thing for her. I’m writing, again, because some things worked out and I have a little more energy, a tiny bit of space for words left in my brain on the weekends.

Some of my friends and I are starting to talk, in various places and various ways, about #DressingWhileDisabled. There are a lot of stories about disability out there, and not a lot of them look like our lives. We have to tell them ourselves. We have to tell them together.

I sit down, and there are two stories I can write.

One: I’m autistic, and there are things I have to learn and struggle with and overcome, like wearing heels.

Two: a friend sent me a pair of shoes, and on a night dedicated to celebrating disability and community and the way my brain and my body glitch at each other, I’m going to wear them.

I want to write a story about shoes and disability, about the connections disability community makes between people who are very short and people who are awkward crashing giants, about the ways my life has gotten so much bigger, about objects and ideas that get passed from person to person, about the ways that disabled women or crip femmes or we take care of each other when no one else will.

We’re taking it one step, one story, at a time. And these are the stories I want to see.

I am stepping out.

Written by Julia

January 31, 2015 at 11:34 pm

93 Responses

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  1. 1) those shoes are pretty! I like them!
    2) Any time I’m around and the idea of me doing so doesn’t freak you out too much, I’m very interested in coiffing and makeup-ing you. (This applies to some of our other femme-y friends as well.)

  2. Love those shoes! You look like you have high insteps like me, which means I can’t wear those flats you just slip on. They’d come off too easily sending me, making me trip headlong toward the ground. But I’m pretty tall too, and haven’t worn heels in a very long time. I have severe balance issues, especially since I’ve put on weight, and weak ankles. Not a good combination! One day I’ll wear heels again too. I’m not ruling it out!

    bbshepherd

    February 1, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    • OHH! Is THAT why I can’t wear flats? I didn’t realise. I just thought I must walk funny compared to other people who seem to have no problem with ‘ballet slipper’ type shoes…

      Not quite 40

      February 13, 2015 at 4:46 pm

      • LOL. I’ve never been able to wear them, and “Mary Jane” type shoes are cute but look very funny on me. I can’t win!

        bbshepherd

        February 13, 2015 at 9:32 pm

  3. Reblogged this on Spectrum Perspectives and commented:
    When you’re not disabled, you take a lot for granted… a LOT. We shouldn’t.

    Patricia

    February 2, 2015 at 11:20 am

    • When one is not disabled one is part of the “Temporarily Able-Bodied” community. They take most things for granted. If one lives long enough, something will slow them down. ALWAYS! Once you have joined the normal community, you realize you can take nothing for granted and have to take everything and every day, one step at a time.

      Coughlins Homespun Yarns

      February 16, 2015 at 9:56 am

      • That is a REALLY striking perspective, and one of those obvious/not-obvious things. To make it through your entire life without some sort of issue occurring (for me, torn meniscus in college and on crutches for 6 weeks – one building had no elevators that I knew of and at least 30 stairs to the main entrance).

        Patricia

        February 16, 2015 at 11:50 am

        • … is probably nearly impossible. Thank you for that observation – really powerful!

          Patricia

          February 16, 2015 at 11:52 am

        • Patricia there is one thing you need to be aware of in applying this tao. Just because you are a Normal person now doesn’t mean that something else isn’t going to come along and bite you in the butt. When the next thing comes along to slow you down further try to develop Activities of Daily Living that that bolster your energies. It doesn’t require much.

          Most importantly don’t ever lose your Sense of Humor, or you’re Doomed. When I get to the point where I slip back two steps for each forward one…. I turn around and walk backwards!

          Coughlins Homespun Yarns

          February 16, 2015 at 11:21 pm

  4. I would do the bejeezus out of your hair, if you wanted. Hair is my one trad femme skill, I think,

    Kassiane Alexandra S.

    February 3, 2015 at 12:04 am

  5. The fact I can be found at the end of this month

    calebfairbairn

    February 10, 2015 at 5:32 pm

  6. Reblogged this on mhrain.

    mhrain

    February 10, 2015 at 7:16 pm

  7. Glad to have read your blog. Looking forward for more stories🙂

    imgracen

    February 10, 2015 at 9:20 pm

  8. I have MS (different type of crip) and can totally relate to wanting to be in heels again! You have inspired me to practice 😊

    MStrooper08

    February 10, 2015 at 10:24 pm

  9. Reblogged this on jnicoleink.

    jnicoleink

    February 10, 2015 at 11:22 pm

  10. Reblogged this on Progressive Rubber Boots and commented:
    I love this!

    wendon74

    February 10, 2015 at 11:42 pm

  11. I know I’m a boy but your shoes are so cute

    omgdylan

    February 11, 2015 at 12:28 am

  12. Reblogged this on "Photo-art" by Yana Zerkalova.

    yanazerkalova

    February 11, 2015 at 3:07 am

  13. NO. Can’t do it. Flats it is. I don’t even think I could stand up in heels anymore! Some things you just have to learn to do without! Well done you for going for it!🙂

    Life Diet Health

    February 11, 2015 at 8:19 am

  14. I understand

    ChetMack70

    February 11, 2015 at 8:42 am

  15. Reblogged this on Chet McLendon's Real Estate Blog and commented:
    Fortunately, I can relate to this story. I am inspired by her awareness and persistence.

    ChetMack70

    February 11, 2015 at 8:44 am

  16. I like the way you write. I liked the paralleling of the two stories to tell at the beginning and at the end. 🙂 My wife has Asperger’s Syndrome. I think you’ll do okay. I hope so. 🙂

    medasane

    February 11, 2015 at 8:56 am

  17. sad

    kingabuzer

    February 11, 2015 at 9:01 am

  18. Enjoy those shoes of feminity and glide around abit.🙂

    Jean

    February 11, 2015 at 10:05 am

  19. Reblogged this on افيندار ..

    افيندار

    February 11, 2015 at 10:39 am

  20. Love the shoes, very cute. I have hands that dont always work and i think the buckle would be out for me. Worst case scenario find a central position at the gala somwhere you can lean seductively and let them come to you. What glamourous outfit are you matching to your shoes.

    cutecraftytoad

    February 11, 2015 at 11:51 am

  21. Reblogged this on jazzychoco.

    jazzychoco

    February 11, 2015 at 12:10 pm

  22. Reblogged this on Punks020153's Blog.

    punks020153

    February 11, 2015 at 12:20 pm

  23. I have a question, being born with disability, has been challenging to find shoes. I am looking for platform shoes (since due to my disability I am quite short) so am looking for platform customized shoes. I have checked out online and majority shoes customized shoes cost me around $500-1,000 a pair and let me tell you being disabled it’s not easy to find a job or make that much money at all. Please advice. Thanks

    Snob

    February 11, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    • I had polio as an infant. Wear a leg brace, Different size legs and feet. I am sixty years old. I understand what you are saying. If you have not already done so google on “orthopedic platform shoes” +Images and start looking around.

      In the days before shoe factories all shoes were custom made. Cobblers “sold” shoes for the equivalent of three days labor. Call that a price point. Sold could mean cash on the barrelhead. It could also mean bartered goods and services.
      Getting a job is more difficult for disabled folks than for “Temporarily Able Bodied”. Your expenses are higher too. Snob you have skill sets that are valuable to shoemakers: Blogging, polling, knowledge of trends and special needs, etc. Establish a price point vis-a-vis theses skills and a pair of suitable shoes. Now go out and barter these skills for the shoes you want. You already did research. Remember the google search?

      Coughlins Homespun Yarns

      February 16, 2015 at 10:50 am

  24. Interesting blog. Please follow me back

    Relationship Blog(real talk)

    February 11, 2015 at 1:36 pm

  25. Thankyou for such a thoughtful and inspiring glimpse into what matters and how you make things happen.

    anarchistbakery

    February 11, 2015 at 2:13 pm

  26. Reblogged this on Brent Suggs.

    brentsuggs

    February 11, 2015 at 2:19 pm

  27. Your feet (I’m assuming) look very nice in those shoes! Keep practicing!

    msadetunji

    February 11, 2015 at 6:12 pm

  28. Itd interesting world out here, I came across your story and felt happy that you have the passion to keep moving one step one story at a time. It makes me self reflect for all the things I’m able to do. It inspires to the point that you want to help be the solution and not the many problems you’ll face on the journey. Be well thanks for sharing

    JMD398

    February 11, 2015 at 6:49 pm

  29. My daughter has very narrow feet, very narrow, and has a hard time finding dressier shoes. She also has low muscle tone and mild CP. We have found that finding a fairly expensive shoe store that carries comfortable brands with good support…and shoe salespeople who know their stock. Also, finding a hair stylist who can do a nice cut that falls just right.

    Ann Kilter

    February 11, 2015 at 8:40 pm

  30. Love the shoes! My character shoes got a lot of use when I was a dancer! I admire your story as I pursue my career in OT! It’s truly admirable of you to share what you go through and still have a sense of humor! Looking forward to hearing more! Be well!

    vetwife0614

    February 11, 2015 at 8:56 pm

  31. This is best post till date I have read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and views.

    Bhanu

    February 12, 2015 at 4:56 am

  32. Reblogged this on Way2Heart and commented:
    A must read. Some things we would never understand.

    Bhanu

    February 12, 2015 at 4:58 am

  33. Reblogged this on matangala.

    matangala

    February 12, 2015 at 8:10 am

  34. Reblogged this on Lovely Joints.

    travelsofcaroline

    February 12, 2015 at 8:55 am

  35. I have an ankle injury also, I love this post because it’s something I can relate to! With practice and time it will come back naturally to you!

    impulsephashion

    February 12, 2015 at 9:08 am

  36. It is sooo true. Lots of stories about disability out there and few seem familiar to disabled people. We need to hear more from disabled people cos that’s the actual truth.

    gatlinmay

    February 12, 2015 at 9:41 am

  37. I enjoyed your story (both of them here). I hope it brings you confidence and comfort to know that some of us girls out there who don’t battle with autism, do battle shoes with heals. Some of those girl things are just HARD.

    imagineambition

    February 12, 2015 at 10:27 am

  38. Your writing is both wonderful and inspiring. Enjoy those heels! They look great.

    pickytoplenty

    February 12, 2015 at 11:49 am

  39. You are an inspiration!

    Faraday's Candle

    February 12, 2015 at 11:59 am

  40. Would love to read more! Keep writing!

    crazydelhiwoman

    February 13, 2015 at 11:35 am

  41. Now that is a Cinderella story! I hope you enjoy dancing away at your upcoming gala in your new shoes… just be home by midnight!

    Mr Brick's World

    February 13, 2015 at 5:31 pm

  42. Reblogged this on pojapotirdana.

    pojapotirdana

    February 13, 2015 at 5:41 pm

  43. Reblogged this on mohinmo.

    mohinmo

    February 14, 2015 at 1:21 am

  44. Reblogged this on ishan624.

    ishan624

    February 14, 2015 at 4:16 am

  45. Mary Janes can be found w somewhat broader heels than these (not sure if they’re still called that then), maybe would be easier and safer to wear. They’re always cut tho imo and at least they don’t fall off ;D (am no good w heels either..)

    suburp

    February 14, 2015 at 8:54 am

  46. Reblogged this on justme0486 and commented:
    I have CP(Cerebral Palsy) Dear reader and because of how it affects me personally(I am only speak for/about myself) I am unable to wear heels and I now currently have to wear Mini Mouse slippers because I hurt my ankles You would be amazed at the number of times I am stopped at the casino for compliments about them, some have remembered me for them and called me Minnie so now I don’t feel so sad and I just rock them🙂

    justme0486

    February 14, 2015 at 2:21 pm

  47. Reblogged this on Anaphylaxis.

    Anaphylaxis

    February 14, 2015 at 8:05 pm

  48. Reblogged this on liveyounique's Blog.

    liveyounique

    February 14, 2015 at 10:05 pm

  49. Lovely shoes!

    Walking is such a beautiful gift.

    sheercookery

    February 14, 2015 at 11:45 pm

  50. I love this❤

    Micheedom

    February 15, 2015 at 7:41 am

  51. I have noticed that when I am mad I walk in heels well, but when I’m not aggressive I can’t wear them and think this would be the same for everyone. It does make a difference somehow on how you are feeling on what height of the shoe. So if you re-walk, you walk in the right fit, not the right style. Hope it’s helpful. Or if you already walk but not in heels.

    Xioliablue Anne Bauldevaire

    February 15, 2015 at 4:39 pm

  52. You make an interesting observation. Perhaps attitude can supplant altitude. Napoleon did it. Disability/special needs/self-image problems are all linked. I have found appropriate footwear. It is not especially stylish. My walking stick is however very stylish and very useful.

    Coughlins Homespun Yarns

    February 16, 2015 at 11:04 am

  53. “I sit down, and there are two stories I can write”. I think you just did, and very well too!

    When I was a youngster I could ice skate. Around the age of twelve my good ankle got to the point where it would no longer support my weight. I had to stop ice-skating.

    Tommy don’t Dance! I love dance and dancing. I have tried over the years to dance and have many interesting, funny and sad stories about this. Nowadays I usually only dance at weddings. The last wedding I danced at was my niece’s. As Susan and I walked up to the site, I heard the Crack of Doom. My brace had broken. That happens all to frequently. Its easier to be an active disabled person than it is to be the disabled person’s crutches. When the wedding dances started I got up and danced. A waltz I can handle that, not stylishly or well but I can and did waltz on one leg.

    Actually I have expectations of being able to dance more as my disability issues get worse. If I live long enough I’ll need a wheelchair someday. I saw a man in a wheelchair dancing on the ski slope at Bear Mountain one time. It was awesome and inspiring! I am an active gimp. When I go it will be Kicking and Screaming. Even if it is on one leg. When I get my wheelchair its going to have Pirelli Racing Tires. As for dances. I’m a musician. I play for the dance. – Free drinks that way too!😉

    Coughlins Homespun Yarns

    February 16, 2015 at 11:32 am

  54. Reblogged this on Stk2010.

    test

    February 16, 2015 at 8:48 pm

  55. Thanks for sharing, all the best. Regards.

    mukhamani

    February 17, 2015 at 10:02 am

  56. Reblogged this on breathlessboy.

    breathlessboy

    February 18, 2015 at 9:43 am

  57. […] had read Dressing While Disabled by JustStimming a while back, and it had nudged me into seeing how much we “able-bodied” […]

  58. Reblogged this on G UP LTD..

    G U.P.LTD.

    February 19, 2015 at 11:44 pm

  59. A beautiful story, so lovely that you shared this with us🙂

    sadnesstheory

    February 20, 2015 at 5:12 am

  60. What gorgeous and compelling stories that can help build bridges between all people. Vive la difference!

    Burns the Fire

    February 20, 2015 at 10:49 am

  61. I am confined to a wheelchair, and I know how difficult it can be to do some of the mundane everyday tasks other people take for granted. Keep up the great blogs! (:

    richclashchair

    February 20, 2015 at 6:40 pm

  62. I, too, am disabled, move about in a manual wheelchair, due to what multiple sclerosis has done to my lower body. Before it struck so severely, I danced, nightclub settings. I never got the ‘hang’ heels, possibly because I’m 5′ 11″ tall–I always wore flats, dancing. Even now, tho, I still can’t wear heels–my feet are far too swollen!! Aaahhh well, no biggie, really! BTW, those shoes are very pretty on you.
    Also, congratulations on being “Freshly Pressed”!!

    ocjarman1

    February 20, 2015 at 10:23 pm

  63. YOU DID IT!

    qpillowcase

    February 21, 2015 at 4:24 am

  64. Reblogged this on Apps Lotus's Blog.

    appslotus

    February 22, 2015 at 8:49 am

  65. Reblogged this on Hutts World.

    huttriverofnz

    February 22, 2015 at 10:23 pm

  66. Reblogged this on The Newshunt.

    The Newshunt

    February 23, 2015 at 12:27 am

  67. Reblogged this on dygdyhfd.

    dygdyhfd

    February 23, 2015 at 7:35 am

  68. Reblogged this on My Care at Home.

    mycareathome

    February 23, 2015 at 8:11 pm

  69. Those shoes look great on your feet… you wear them well.

    scripsnpics

    February 23, 2015 at 8:25 pm

  70. Your shoes are so fab!

    helloofelicia

    February 23, 2015 at 9:36 pm

  71. Reblogged this on hello, felicia.

    helloofelicia

    February 23, 2015 at 9:36 pm

  72. Reblogged this on A HAPPY MINDSET.

    nasasiraclare

    February 26, 2015 at 6:06 am

  73. am reblogging this too on my page from a fellow member of the disabled world. fibromyalgia back pain and high heels do not go together..🙂

    gypsyprincess art

    March 3, 2015 at 11:59 pm

  74. Reblogged this on .

    laurenashleighgrier

    March 7, 2015 at 12:31 am

  75. Interesting article and by the way disability is a ability, for the other alternative does not bear thinking about, one adapts and copes ,, take care be safe … x

    alfgarnet

    March 9, 2015 at 10:01 am

  76. Nice post

    aanasada

    March 10, 2015 at 11:52 am

  77. Reblogged this on tarahpatterson.

    tarahpatterson

    March 18, 2015 at 10:37 pm

  78. As a femme that LOVES heels, a generational passion passed down to me, I loved reading this blog A LOT. Not only am I passionate about heels but I am also passionate about equality and the autistic community. I heard you present a few years back and I was impressed by your story and by tenacity and still am. I support a woman on the spectrum that I think will love your blog post. I am going to pass it along to her in hopes that it will spur her on to share with you her perspective as a little person on the spectrum. I also plan to share it with friends because the story is simply GENIUS in the way you tell it. Many of my girlfriends will be able to relate to the battle of conquering the high heel.

    Renee Gonzales

    March 19, 2015 at 5:51 pm

  79. I really like your heels and your story was so heartwarming . do you know this is coming from a ten-year old blogger with very little experience in blogging.

    kristenbarth888

    March 28, 2015 at 2:33 pm

  80. Reblogged this on jayesbrain and commented:
    Beautiful post, beautiful shoes!

    Jaye's Brain

    March 30, 2015 at 10:27 pm

  81. […] with a new pair of Manolo Blahniks, I have a bit more say. Please be sure to visit the blogs/posts Just Stimming… and  The Church Is Responsible For This to read the original posts in their entirety, and leave a […]

  82. cute!

    little367

    April 3, 2015 at 3:26 pm

  83. Reblogged this on jamieaarons.

    callmejamieee

    April 14, 2015 at 9:11 am

  84. Just keep walking walking walking. (Sing in your head like Dory in Finding Nemo.) Each step trains your motor cortex and makes it an automated process in your head. Very good brain therapy.

    Unfortunately, your back may never like it but you will look FABULOUS!

    mtaheny1

    March 31, 2016 at 12:01 pm


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