Daily life for women who use a wheelchair is filled with unique obstacles. Non-wheelchair users may say odd or rude comments to you, the bathroom mirror is usually located too high for your to see yourself and people seem to pity you for no reason. It’s time to confront these daily naissances and obstacles and present your best self. Below is a list of 20 essential things women in wheelchairs should know.
1. Ignore Back-Handed Compliments
Almost every girl in a wheelchair has been on the receiving end of back-handed compliments. The most popular being “You’re so pretty for a girl in a wheelchair,” “It’s so great to see out and about,” “You’re so brave,” and You’re an inspiration.” People who make these comments are obviously naïve about living life in a wheelchair. You are just like everyone else in the world, human! If they want to put you on a pedestal and label you as brave and inspirational, so be it and just ignore it.
2. You Will Surprise People
Some non-wheelchair users will often be surprised by a lot of things you do, say and experience in life. For some reason these people have a vision in their mind that wheelchair users are limited and this is farthest from the truth. Yes, you do experience more obstacles than others, but your quality life is just as extraordinary as everyone else's. Get use to seeing surprised looks on people’s faces when they find out you travel to exotic destinations, play sports, have fun and party with the best of them.
3. Invest in a Backpack
Purses are awesome, pretty and depending on the size can fit plenty of essentials. But, they also are bulky, take up space on your lap and are difficult to store on the side of your wheelchair seat. Hanging your purse on the back of your wheelchair is dangerous because it can drag on the floor and fall off easily. Backpacks are all the rage these days. They come in a multitude of colors and styles that will perfectly express your personality and style. They are also easy to put on the back of your chair, often have plenty of pockets to store items and are convenient to use.
4. Accessorize Your Wheelchair
Make your wheelchair as convenient and stylish as possible. Add accessories such as a phone carrying case, flashlight, cup holder and more.
5. Perfect your Technique for Taking a Selfie
Social media has created a selfie picture craze that is here to stay! As a girl in a wheelchair, you may find it difficult to fit yourself and your awesome outfit into a picture. The trick to squeezing all of you into the picture is by taking a selfie from above or using a selfie stick.
6. High Waist Bottoms and Long Tops are Your Best Friend
Often shirts naturally rise up when sitting for long periods of time in a wheelchair. High wasted bottoms such as pants, shorts and skirts will eliminate any unsightly bulges and long tops will make your waist look longer. Invest in these types of clothing items to perfect your style and look.
7. You Define What Sexy Is
Young girls don’t need to think about this until they are older. But older women who are in a relationship or trying to express themselves can do so tastefully. You have the power to define what sexy is to you and portray it with elegance, style and sophistication.
8. Learn to Think Outside the Box
You know you are met with obstacles, but don’t let them hold you back from living your dreams. Learn to think outside the box to achieve your goals. You may have to go about things differently but that’s what makes you unique.
9. Stay Fit
Just because you are in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you don’t have to stay physically fit. Join a gym that has trainers who are familiar working with wheelchair users. Some gyms and local community centers also offer yoga classes for wheelchair users. Make staying fit part of your regular routine.
10. Keep a Sense of Humor
You experience a variety of things every day. Some issues and topics that you are confronted with can really make you angry. But keeping a sense of humor and not sweating over the small stuff will make your day go smoother and prevent you from feeling angry on a daily basis.
11. Beware of Pick-Up Lines
For some reason people who are interested in women who use wheelchairs often use a sympathy as a pick-up line. This happens often, but don’t fall for it. If they feel sorry for you, it shows they are empathetic, but it also shows they think something is wrong with you. If the pick-up character is worth getting to know, you may be able to help him or her understand you don’t need sympathy, but a great friend or fun date would be better.
12. Your Wheelchair Will Filter Your Friends
Sometimes all people see is a wheelchair instead of the amazing person sitting in it. If new found friends are always focusing on your wheelchair or making a big deal about it, they may be difficult to deal with on a regular basis. Also, some people are quite cruel and may avoid being your friend because of your wheelchair.
13. There is No Graceful Way to Put Your Wheelchair into the Car
You may try a few different ways of putting your wheelchair into the car with hopes it resembles putting packages away, but you just have to lift and get it over with. It’s an essential part of your life, and let’s face it, non-wheelchair users don’t look cool or sexy putting grocery bags or other items in their car either.
14. Keep a Stock of Tights
Tights have become a part of many girl’s wardrobes and are used to create a variety of outfits. Unfortunately they have a short lifespan due to excessive rips and tears. Keeping a stock of tights is a great way to never run out. You can also embrace the grunge look and enjoy!
15. Wear Long Clothing Items with Caution
Scarfs, coats, long skirts and other long clothing items must be worn with caution. These items easily and frequently get caught in wheels or drag on the floor picking up dirt and stains, as well as causing a variety of wardrobe malfunctions.
16. Carry Your Own Mirror
Always carry your own mirror because the public bathroom usually has them positioned to high or they don’t have them at all. A small compact mirror is perfect to fit into your stylish backpack where you can reach it at any time.
17. Avoid Becoming Your Friends Cloakroom
This is easier said than done. Your non-wheelchair using friends may want to load your chair with coats, purses and more while out and about around town. Maybe one or two things is ok, but don’t let them overload your chair. These items can weigh you down and get caught in your wheelchair tires causing damage to your wheelchair and an inconvenience to you.
18. Embrace that Your Wheelchair is a Giant Handbag
Do you know the scene in Mary Poppins where she fits a large amount of things into one bag? Wheelchairs often have a variety of compartments and pockets, not to mention all of the accessories you can add such as mesh bags. Carry your essentials with you at all times so you are ready for anything.
19. Wear Your Cute Heels, But Don’t forget Allen
An Allen key is the perfect tool to adjust your footplates so you are more comfortable when you wear high heel shoes.
20. Pay Attention to Your Hands
Your hands go through a lot when you are a wheelchair user. They can often become dirty, especially if you have a manual wheelchair. Keep your hands clean with moisturized wipes and carry hand lotion with you so you can reapply throughout the day.
These 20 things girls in wheelchairs should know will help you prepare to be the woman you want to be. It’s obvious that you need to be clever, intelligent and find unique ways to deal with people and obstacles. But don’t forget that you are also capable of expressing your true personality through fashion and style. Remember to ignore the little things, don’t waste your energy on naive people and enjoy life as a strong, independent woman who happens to use a wheelchair.