Beauty, style, illness and disability

Bazaar Woman of the Year - Marion Cotillard
Bazaar Woman of the Year – Marion Cotillard

Flipping through the December issue of UK Harpers Bazaar, I thought this Marchesa dress, worn by Marion Cotillard was just breathtakingly beautiful.

Like most people, I imagine, I would have no cause to wear such a garment myself even supposing I had the body – and I do not – to carry it off and/or the finances to afford it.  However, these realities of my own situation do not, in any way, lessen my appreciation of its’ beauty nor that I find it inspiring to look at.

Despite my illness, being in a wheelchair, my changed physical reality, my physical constraints, I continue to seek all the beauty, glory and wonderful things that life has to offer be it in the visual, aural, tactile, sensual … wherever I am able to find … sense.  Just like I always did before I became ill and disabled.

One of the most peculiar realities of my life is to find that so many people seem to be surprised by this – those who are able-bodied, well and not.  I am surprised by their surprise.

Yes, of course, life is different for me now and there are some very grim things about it but why would I want to focus on the ugly and grim to the exclusion of the wonderful and joyous?  I probably enjoy the good things in life more than I did because I don’t take them for granted and their contrast with my reality is so marked.

It upsets me dreadfully that other people have such low expectations for my life quality when I myself do not: a specialist shoe maker is amazed that I want my shoes to look good not just be functional: a wheelchair dealer is taken aback that I will not buy an ‘ugly’ wheelchair: a car adapter is annoyed to be questioned on aspects of visual design: a carer finds me ‘fussy’ because I insist on my clothes being properly adjusted before I let them go.  I am even criticised because I go out, am interested in fashion and style, art and theatre, as if such ‘frivolous’ pursuits have no place in the life of the severely ill and disabled.

Isn’t that just odd?  To my mind, quality of life is of paramount importance for all of us, isn’t it?  However we take our pleasure, illness and disability do not bar us from it and nor should they.  Sure, there may be times when some things are prioritised over others through necessity or choice but what is life for if not for living with happiness and joy?  I have always enjoyed looking at beautiful fashion, style and art.  Nothing about that has changed because of my illness and disability.  Would you have expected it to?


  1. Hannah Ensor

    Totally with you there! Yes, aspects of my life are tough – but other aspects are marvellous. which, lets face it, is true of practically everyone on the planet. When I know just how precious it is to be able to go out and about (I use wheels) instead of being in a hospital bed, of COURSE I’ll want to make the most of it, to look good, to enjoy each moment to it’s fullest potential! And no way will I buy an ugly set of wheels. NO WAY.

    1. Elle@plusblack

      Like minds, honey, like minds … I feel a Kool and the Gang moment approaching:

      There’s a party going on right here
      a celebration to last troughout the years.
      So bring your good times and your laughter
      we’re gonna celebrate your party with you !

      Come on now, come on
      let’s all celebrate and have a good time

      Yes, it may be the dance of maniacs but who cares … if it’s a party, I’m there …


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