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Elizabeth DePoy and Stephen Gilson
Interdisciplinary Disability Studies
According to Kaiser (2018) “Appearance style is a metaphor for identity”. And while the typical body can project the self through selecting, donning, and displaying fashion, the disabled body has been denied that critical mode of self-expression, until recently. Lack of clothing choice has prevailed due in part to benign and even intentional neglect and omission of disability from both fashion design and display. As a result of negative attitudes towards disability, expectations are perpetuated that function should trump any concern with aesthetics, and that attention to fashion and appearance is petty and frivolous. Yet, the increasingly omnipotent visual culture positions the capacity to project identity through choosing one’s appearance as essential. Recognizing this trend, Jackson, AKA the Girl with the Purple Cane, initiated the Inclusive Fashion and Design Collective. Her goal for this advocacy organization is to grant opportunity of clothing and fashion choice to the full range of disabled bodies. Given the nascence of inclusive fashion, there is limited research on how such movements emerge and evolve. This inquiry will contribute to this emerging, important body of knowledge. Through life history design, Jackson’s work, its genesis, and its progress will be examined and analyzed. Using interview and observation, the study focuses on the role of object and clothing in Jackson’s life, and then turns to the creative process through which her work unfolds. The study not only unpacks individual ingenuity but provides empirical guidance to other activists in contemporary-relevant approaches to decreasing and eliminating exclusion and discrimination.
University of Maine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies
2018 University of Maine Student Symposium, Research and Creative Activity
disability, fashion and identity
Family, Life Course, and Society | Social Work | Sociology of Culture
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Ford, E. (2018, April). Life history from the vantage point of a cane. Poster presented at the 2018 University of Maine Student Symposium: Research and Creative Activity. Bangor, ME.