Having a chronic illness affects pretty much every area of your life. Fashion is definitely one of those areas. Pain flare-ups and extreme fatigue cause restrictions on the clothes you wear. Someone who knows this very well is Ali Hemsley.
Ali is a 23-year-old lifestyle blogger from Brighton. She was diagnosed with M.E and Fibromyalgia six and a half years ago. She’s also a Time For Change champion and works to reduce the stigma around mental health.
I love Ali’s sense of style. It was only right that I would pick her brains about the fashion industry and how to express your personal style with a chronic illness. Be sure to check out her blog post on how her chronic illnesses have changed her fashion identity.
“The amount of time I’ve spent housebound due to chronic illness over the past 6 and a half years has left me with a lot of anxiety – especially when it comes to what I’m wearing. It’s easy for me to hide behind a pair of black jeans and a big hoodie or coat. I’m determined to make up for lost time by pushing myself out of my comfort zone… and it turns out this look is actually a lot more “me” than I originally thought.”
J: Is fashion industry is inclusive enough when it comes to disability and chronic illnesses?
A: Currently, no… but it’s definitely moving in the right direction. That’s particularly thanks to the increase in disabled bloggers that focus on beauty and fashion, such as @tess.daly and @jbone89. The fashion industry is renown for not being inclusive – and it’s only just making steps towards inclusivity for POC and plus-size. The need for inclusivity and diversity is being recognised and I think there are going to be many more big changes over the next few years.
J: Does your chronic condition can be limiting when it comes to expressing your personal style?
A: Unfortunately yes, it can be limiting. There’s times where I can’t express my personal style because, when my body is in pain, I can’t bear to feel constricted in what I wear. For me personally, the rise of athleisure wear has been an absolute saviour to me. When trying on multiple outfits, I can get fatigued quickly, so I have to try on outfits little and often rather than all at once – so shopping can be particularly hard. Thankfully, there’s so many fab places to online shop – so I tend to stick to that!
J: What tips would you give to chronic illness patients that want to be expressive when it comes to fashion
A: Don’t pressure yourself to look ‘put together’ every day – even fashion and beauty bloggers don’t look like their Instagrams 24/7! Find out what makes you feel most confident, and what you need from an outfit, and then see what items fit into both categories. Layer up!! (The cold never helps chronic illness).
You definitely have to check out the rest of Ali’s blog. She posts some amazing content.
Last week I posted a video about the disability/chronic illness, the fashion industry and adaptive design. You can watch that on You Look Okay To Me’s YouTube channel.
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