My Final Letter to J. Crew
Posted on September 11, 2014
Dear J. Crew,
One of my first jobs out of college was as a production assistant to Ellen DeGeneres. My goal every day was to be speedy and stay happy. My most important responsibility was to get her food when her stomach started to rumble. It was a most unbelievable gig, especially for someone who had grown up in the midwest outside of any spotlight. After a couple of years I decided to follow my partner Megan to NYC. Our 9th anniversary is on the 22nd.
One of my favorite producers from Ellen was in town and asked if I wanted to hang. You see, he’s shooting a bit for Jimmy Kimmel called ‘Fashion Lies’ where he goes around asking people at Fashion Week what they think of this designer or that designer. But you know as well as I that when Kimmel is involved, the designers don’t really exist. It’s going to be painfully hilarious. You’ll laugh because you’re in fashion and you think these people are stupid. I’ll laugh because I’m not in fashion and I think these people are stupid. It’s fun abounds.
Actually the video just posted (and it’s suuuper awkward):
We were wandering Lincoln Center when we happened upon a group of people wearing cardboard boxes. My friend was thinking ‘I wish I had my camera’ and I was thinking ’people are wearing cardboard boxes for a fashion statement, yet my cane is symbolically pathetic?’
About an hour prior, as we ate banana pancakes for dinner, he mentioned he had told a friend about my petition. The friend’s response was “and you actually like this girl? she sounds like an old lady!!” He told the friend that he liked me, that he loved me very much and that yes, I am definitely an old lady.
I got home and thought I would amuse myself by posting the photo of the people wearing boxes to Instagram, tagging your Super-Important menswear person, Frank Muytjens. You see, Frank had liked a couple of posts of mine a few months back and I had always held onto that as a small measure of success. I felt that if he was ‘on my side’, that must mean that all of J. Crew is a bit charmed if not a little annoyed by me. I am at my best when people are slightly charmed and slightly annoyed by me.
Unfortunately when I went to tag Frank, I discovered he had blocked me. The last time I remember checking out his Instagram account was three months prior when I tagged him in a photo of me and my bike (cane attached) asking if he wanted to go for a ride. I can’t help but be amused by how terrified he must have felt when the cripply girl asked him to go for a bike ride.
Anyway, this discovery has been a bit painful but it’s also the nudge I needed. When success is measured in such small increments, this technological slight gave me pause to reassess. This is my final letter to you.
#YesJCrewCane will continue but in a different format. There will still be a petition. But Instead of calling it #YesJCrewCane, I will say I have an idea about how to destigmatize assistive devices. Click here to support. Readers will know that J. Crew is the subject of my petition only after clicking through to Change.org.
New posts will feature those I love and admire. Those who have battled the stigma of disability and assistive devices. This is where I will remind you that half the population will battle a disability in their lifetimes. That means half my friends, family, peers, mentors or doctors could be targeted for a post. If you’re bored, take a moment to forward this post to the healthiest, strongest person you know. One of you will battle a disability at some point in your life. Who will it be? You or your friend? Frank or Libby? Jenna or Mickey?
(I don’t know about you, but to me the tennis balls are the piece de resistance)
My friend Amanda will be the subject of my first new post. Amanda is a mom to two small children and the daughter to a father with Multiple Sclerosis. I am in the process of asking her a series of questions about her stroller shopping experiences. I will then be asking her dad the same series of questions, using the word wheelchair instead of stroller. It has been a beautiful and tearful process, one that brings me closer to my friend. I am proud of the new direction #YesJCrewCane will be taking.
I want you to know that this isn’t a decision I am making because someone I never met blocked me on social media. I believe this new approach will give my passion the potential to find its way into the hands of retailers interested in a more well rounded inclusive shopping experience. This non-letter format will give me the opportunity to reach new audiences; people willing to criticize, those who will say I’m preaching to the choir. In all honesty, I don’t think I have the greatest idea in the world, I just think I have one of the only ideas out there. I so look forward to making new friends and learning ideas on how to destigmatize assistive devices. Things need to change, where is the think tank?
If you ever want to chat, brainstorm or break your (6 month) silence, you know how to find me.
Your (hopefully one day) friend,
P.S. Check out this article about a quadruple amputee who walked the runway at Fashion Week. The article is by a writer named Jessica Probus. Jessi is one of the few writers who has started tapping into the sentiment and beauty of inclusion. Sometimes it feels like she’s going out on a limb with her articles. I feel like her work truly shines.
P.P.S. I have an idea about how to destigmatize assistive devices. Click here to support.