New York is synonymous with crowded venues, bustling sidewalks, and just never enough space. Body politics get even messier when you are a woman with a disability for public space frankly has not been constructed with your accessibility and emotional needs in mind. As we move into Fall, I’m reflecting on my recent opportunity to carve out a space for women with a range of disabilities to share our experiences and affirm our right to advocate for ourselves in ways that honors our integrity and dignity. This gathering was part of my partnership with Starbucks and rounded out my Self-Love Meetup Series.
In a show of how firmly women hold women up, the venue of the Meet-Up was held in a West 29th Street studio owned by fellow Creatives Coco & Breezy, founders of the eponymous Coco & Breezy eyewear company. The studio was brightly lit, plushy couch outfitted, painted in warm peach tones and full of plants and the scent of soothing incense, all of which lent themselves to creating the first necessity of having space that meets the needs of disabilities: comfort.
The space reflected the mood of the Meetup which was more intimate, both because of the small number of those gathered and what we had gathered to talk about: the realities of women with disabilities in a world that is just beginning to see us in the fullness of our humanity. As we talked and shared personal experiences, we kept coming back to how a big part of navigating the world with a disability is finessing how you are going to get what you need and want from the world. Jillian Mercado called it “infiltrating industries from the inside to lift up people who are deserving but have been made invisible.”
When you have a disability you have to become your biggest advocate, it is a choice we make out of necessity so we are not overlooked by the world. Similarly, as women, who spend so much of our lives giving of ourselves unto others, we have to learn how to prioritize our needs. Like prioritizing spending time with friends who understand, or prioritizing #treatyourself on behalf of the Starbucks Rewards Visa Card which we used that day to create a light spread of sweets, proteins and greens.
One thing we all iterated in our stories is self love really is just about knowing when enough is enough, what you are willing to entertain and what insults your soul. Self love is about knowing YOU are enough. Point. Blank. Period.
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As a fellow hip disartic,this gives me hope. Thanks to all who are infiltrating for change. I’m doing the same however I can. I am interested in participating in this group as well, if there are open meetings.