Owner(s): Margaret Mulrooney
Description: JMU in the 1970s
Owner(s): Brian Cockburn
Description: The pedagogies of the three most important string pedagogues of the twentieth century
Many people with disabilities struggle with the stigma that they are needy and helpless much like a young child who cannot care for his or herself. Yet disabled people think differently. What hinders most people with disabilities is not their actual disability; rather it is “society’s myths, fears, and stereotypes that most make being disabled difficult”(Shapiro, 12). Because society views disabled people as helpless, they deem them incapable of raising kids.
In her book Taking Care: Lessons from Mothers with Disabilities Mary Grimley Mason states, “First, as disabled women, we often feel seen as imperfect women—as asexual, dependent, and unable to fulfill traditional female roles. Then as mothers we confront society’s ideal of the “good mother,” who is perfect and a “natural caregiver,” an unattainable norm for any woman, but particularly a woman with a disability.” But these are merely cultural distortions that make disabled females feel anxious or incapable of being a good mother. In fact, medical professionals often suggest to females with disabilities that they should have a hysterectomy.
Attorney Robyn Powell, who uses a wheelchair because of her arthrogryposis, says that she has “been offered a hysterectomy more times than [she] can count”(Rochman). Robyn Powell knows that she is capable of raising kids, however she believes that society as a whole views people with disabilities as incapable of raising kids.” But what society does not realize is that people with disabilities are accustomed to adapting—a skill necessary for new parents. But too often people underestimate the able-ness of parents with disabilities.
Erika Johnson and her husband, who are both blind, had their first child taken away by social services because a social worker assumed that their blindness would effect their ability to properly care for their daughter. Too often health professionals and social service providers are “ill informed about the capabilities of disabled mothers and they are used to thinking of these women as passive receivers of care. They distrust disabled women’s competence in raising a child and they often overlook the ingenious ways such mothers adapt and perform even the most physical tasks such as carrying, feeding, dressing and bathing their infants or young children”(Mason, xi).
Disability Disparities in the Media
Julie Hirschhorn, James Madison University
Have you ever seen a person with a prosthetic limb in an athletic clothing ad? How about a woman with cerebral palsy in a hair commercial? I didn’t think so. The media currently presents skewed definitions of beauty in numerous advertisements. They include only women and men of specific body weights and shapes, ethnicities, and race. They also influence cultural norms to place more value on physical appearance rather than internal strengths. People and corporations tailor themselves and their advertisements to fit the current mold: skinny, bronze, and homogenous. The advertising executives on Madison Avenue do not necessarily dictate beauty trends, but they certainly exploit them. However, there is a large minority group that the media tends to disregard completely: individuals with disabilities. This begs a question worth exploring: to what extent is disability featured in the beauty and fashion industries?
I am not the only individual who has struggled with confidence issues in the past. Nor am I the only person who fits the media’s current mold of beauty. Many times I have looked in the mirror and asked, “What’s wrong with petite, pale, brunettes? Now I am looking at my surroundings and asking, “What’s wrong with autism, amputation victims, and other disabilities?” I and am angry and irked by the lack of not only ethnic diversity, but physical and social diversity in the glossy folds of magazines and other advertisements. We are living in an era where it is not okay to single someone out for having a prosthetic limb or discriminating because a person is deaf or blind. The truth of the matter, is while the media industry is trying to make strides to promote inclusivity, disability is not seen in the beauty and fashion industry. On the rare occasions that it is, disability is seen as something to be pitied, or awed at like someone is doing a magic trick.
Why This is a Problem
While the industry seems to be moving away from the age of the “thigh-gap” in favor of “real” beauty campaigns, there is still very little evidence suggesting that the beauty and fashion industry are becoming friendlier towards those with disabilities. What is ironic, however, is that many models may have invisible disabilities. Anorexia, bulimia (and other eating disorders) and, obsessive compulsive disorder are common among the model community. Eating disorders and other psychological illnesses affect more than 50% of models (National Institute of Health).
Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is a philosophical one. Current beauty and media campaigns send the message that the definition of beauty is no broader than the runway which women walk on. It is limited to specific measurements and physical ability. Furthermore, these ads do not fight against the constant discrimination of people with disabilities; rather, they even promote it by ignoring the group all together, regardless of their strong buying power. What is more troubling is the contradictory messages that say beauty is not everything, but simultaneously imply that how beautiful and how able people are affects multiple aspects of life, including school, work, and family. Critics of beauty campaigns claim there needs to be a shift in the global paradigm of beauty. This can be started by exploring why those paradigms are meaningful to begin with, and challenge the validity of those beliefs, so that everyone, no matter if a person is disabled or not, can feel beautiful inside and out.
What has Been Done
For the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the advocacy group Pro Infirmis teamed up with Bahnhofstrasse (the upscale shopping street in Zurich, Switzerland) to display mannequins who were modeled on real-life people with disabilities. The touching video featured people with disabilities (i.e dwarfism, severe scoliosis, prosthetic limbs, paralysis, etc) being measured by a popular designer who takes their measurements and then creates identical mannequins. The mannequins were displayed in an up-scale department store window and seen by shoppers. The shoppers’ reactions ranged from appalled to appreciative. The effect of this video dealt with the art of people staring at fashion displays that were different from the “norm.”
In addition, more progress has been made in the fashion industry. During New York’s Fashion Week this past February, Carrie Hammer became the first fashion designer to feature a woman in a wheel chair on the run way. “People with disabilities are an untapped consumer market in terms of fashion,” said Danielle Sheypuk, a clinical psychologist in New York and the subsequent model. “We read the magazines, shop in stores, but nothing is ever pitched to us.” One would think that with the not-so-booming economy that these designers would want to tap into this growing consumer base. Sheypuk is also involved with the “Raw Beauty” project, an endeavor started by a coalition of photographers who aim to “inspire the public to create new perceptions, transform stereotypes and breakthrough personal obstacles by expanding awareness of women with physical challenges.”
Diesel Denim also has a new campaign, where designer, Nicola Formichetti, tapped Jillian Mercado, style blogger and Fashion Week regular who uses a wheelchair to be the face of the ads. Mercado, who was diagnosed with spastic muscular dystrophy, shows off Diesel’s signature denim in the brand’s spring 2014 ads. “It’s never easy for her to move from point A to point B, but she’s totally fearless and has really been an inspiration to me,” Formichetti told Women’s Wear Daily. “You don’t have to be a conventional model type to represent a brand.”
There have even been some glimpses of disability branching out into other forms of media. In September 2013, Guinness Beer released a commercial that featured a game of basketball with men in wheel chairs. Even Paralympic champion sprinter Oscar Pistorius was used as a model to promote Nike shoes. Before he was charged with murdering his girlfriend. Thus, it has been proven that it’s possible to have a commercial featuring a disabled person without causing societal upheaval. More importantly, these ads show that they, too, are human beings, with families, lives, and they want to look good in clothes and make-up. Why are we denying them that?
A Call to Action
The advertising industry needs to change. Times are changing, demographics are changing, and people are changing. The advertising industry cannot afford to remain stagnant. They need to start featuring disabled individuals in every day advertisements, especially fashion and beauty. The more they are featured, the more integration occurs. Beauty and fashion has an audience of all shapes and sizes. Why doesn’t the industry recognize it?
Recently downloaded onto my phone is an autobiographical book entitled Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis. Anthony Kiedis is the singer in the band The Red Hot Chili Peppers. He uses the name of one of their songs, a song he describes in his book called “scar tissue” as the title. I have listened to The Red Hot Chili Peppers for a long time but never thought much about the lives of the band members when one of my friends told me to read this book. I had no idea what to expect of this auto biography but if you know this bands music you get a sense that these are some eccentric humans so I knew one thing I wasn’t expecting was any sort of normalcy. The book starts out with Anthony and his mom and dad living in Michigan until his dad leaves his mom for a more adventurous life in Hollywood, California. His dad, in the seventies was a cocaine dealer amongst other drugs and would not do much to hide it from Anthony. His dad even taught him how to roll a joint when he was nine years old. What was interesting about reading this book was that Anthony seemed to tell these stories with no ill will, like he was thankful for the way he was raised because of where it brought him. A kind of understanding that I think his experiences gave him.
While reading I also learned so much about how the band was formed and how a lot of their songs became what they are today. Another thing listeners don’t realize is what bands or musicians go through to get recognized and what our favorite bands were before the riches. I learned that Anthony experienced more hardships than I could have guessed. For all the money he has now he spent years sleeping on friends couches and in cars.
Like the tile of the song and book implies, Anthony divulged a lot in this book about his battle with drugs. What started in his life as a recreational habit became a painful, all encompassing addiction preventing him from living the life he wanted to. On multiple occasions his drug use caused him to miss important shows, caused band members to quit and almost got him kicked out of this entity he helped create, The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In the actual song scar tissue the lyrics say
“Scar tissue that I wish you saw
Sarcastic mister know it all
Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you ’cause
With the birds I’ll share
With the birds I’ll share
This lonely view
With the birds I’ll share
This lonely view”
I think that when he refers to himself flying with birds its partly to do with the fact that he’s high and that the lonely view just shows how much he tears himself from everyone when he gets high.
I really enjoyed this book because it gave me an insight into how so much great music was made and what it took. It also makes the songs by them mean so much more to listen to. It’s interesting that artists expose so much about themselves through their music, yet their listeners never really know their life’s story, and this book lets you learn about their life. If you are a fan of this band I highly recommend this book! Enjoy this clip from their song “Scar Tissue.”
Help is a song written and performed by the famous band called the Beatles. The Beatles was initially formed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr during the 1960. Despite the fact that it has been fifty plus years since its band’s initial formation, these performer’s name are still much known to the young generation. Partly, it has to do with how remarkable, great and loved the band was. The band received seven Grammy awards, 15 Ivor Novello awards, 45 Gold Albums, 39 Platinum Albums and much more. Needless to say, this was probably one of the best bands of all time, and Help was one of their earlier songs created in 1965 only 5 years after the band’s initial formation.
“Help, I need somebody. Help, not just anybody. Help, you know I need someone, help!” That was first the first few lyrics of the song, and it is already insanely catchy and addicting to be listening to. If you don’t believe me, then listen to the music video linked below, and you agree how insanely catchy the song is. Another thing you might notice is how energetic the song is, you may or may not find yourself tapping your feet or nodding your dead along with the beat. I personally irresistibly do both at the same time, and sometimes I don’t even realize that I am doing it. It is almost like the music blends into you as one as music is a type of food to the soul. If you are ever feeling down and simply unmotivated to do anything, perhaps listening to this track will reenergize you. Personally for me whenever I am having a bad day or just feeling a bit stressed out, I would open this bad boy track up and listen to it on repeat for a few times and just simply let the energy recharge me. This neat trick works like recharging a battery as it always makes me feel rejuvenated every time after being charged.
However some people disagree with how outstanding the song actually is. People compare this song to their other selections such as Let It Be, Yesterday and or A Hard Day’s Night. My response to them is that Help is not like the traditional songs that the Beatles would normally write and perform. Instead, Help is special in that the style of its percussion was the beginning of what to me is the modern day pop. With that emplaced, the old fashion of the Beatles’ moody feeling has changed to this energetic and exciting song. We can see this transition happening with its previous album A Hard Day’s Night beginning to pick up these traits. The disagreement would simply because of the change in taste of the music. But nonetheless, the Beatles doesn’t create bad music and this is a wonderful song that may have you find yourself in a delighted mood for the rest of the day.
Music Video Clip of: Help!
After reading about career development take some time and think about your future…
I always think about the future, it’s a constant thought that leaves me worried. No one knows what the future holds, but yet everyone makes plans around the future. When people ask me where do I want to be in five years, my response is always the same; happy. I want to be happy. Being undeniably happy will always bring a bright future in tow. As for in my professional field, I juggle with whether or not I really want to be a speech pathologist or just travel the world for a few months to possibly find my calling. I want to pursue my passion, craft it, and perfect it. Sure, it doesn’t seem really logical, but life isn’t logical. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to find out my calling as I take on different opportunities in life that are presented to me.
Right now, I’m a junior at James Madison University. I have a major in Communication Sciences and Disorders with two minors in Exceptional Education and Human Resource Development. I’m the Treasurer for the Black Student Alliance and a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. I work as a Multicultural Attaché in The Center for Multicultural Student Services. I throughly enjoy my job and extracurriculars because it gives me an opportunity to search for avenues that may provoke interests. I have a strong interest in giving back to my community, teaching, traveling, writing, and diversity training. If I could mash all of that up into a job, I would!
I have to remain head strong and open to opportunities that may come my way. I have to postion myself to be open and available to new experiences that could possibly benefit my future. I’m going to finish school, maybe take a few years off to gain experience/travel, and then come back for grad school. I don’t know what the future entails but I’m definitely excited to see where I’m headed!