Spinal Cord Injury is difficult in a million different ways.
Four of the Cure Girls with tetraplegia give you a snapshot of the issues they have with clothing.
“My first awful experience with clothing was in the early days of my injury. I was told to no longer wear designer underwear and fashionable clothes as they weren’t practical. Hospital staff recommended ‘big, baggy clothes and plain underwear’ to prevent marks, redness and pressure sores. I’d lost enough dignity and femininity and so completely REBELLED. With caution I continue to wear my designer underwear, high heels and tiny tops. Everyone copes differently but I didn’t want to change who I was. However, there are issues. Tetraplegics often have a catheter and leg bag for urine collection. When dressing it’s crucial that the tube doesn’t get kinked as you can end up wetting yourself. It’s impossible to wear short skirts, skinny jeans, bikinis or swimsuits. I try to look the best I possibly can for now… but I know that one day they’ll all be back in my wardrobe.” Cure Girl Lolly
“Prior to my injury, I used wear whatever I wanted – tight jeans, shorts, bikinis, skirts. My clothing choice was dictated by my mood, by the weather or by occasional. I dressed for me, not for my injury. Since becoming a tetraplegic, I have to dress warmly because of poor circulation. I have to dress around a urine collection bag. I must ensure my skin is not irritated and my shoes must be soft. These are the realities which so few people are willing to talk about. We put a lot of work into looking as good as we can but we simply can’t dress as we desire. Self-expression through clothing choice is just one more thing that paralysis robs from us. We have our fashions dictated to us by circumstance, rather than choice and it’s sad. We want ourselves back and that’s why we fight!” Cure Girl Ruth
“After my injury I donated almost all my clothes thinking that I would no longer have any use for them! I’m totally dependent and that’s why I need somebody to dress me. Maybe because that is easier to me put skinny clothes. I try to keep my style; I’m a beach girl and I like comfortable garments. Another think that changed completely is the way I buy clothes: not only do I need to like the clothes, they also need be appropriate to wear. The most challenging aspect for me is shoes! I once damaged my skin with a lovely but hard pair of boots and now I need to be really careful with this. In conclusion, the thing I miss the most? My high heels!” Cure Girl Sabrina
Before my injury I did not have a clear idea what kind of clothing I preferred or liked to wear the most. I was young at the time of my injury and therefore had not developed my style. Because I was so young, I did not have the opportunity to see myself in more mature, feminine clothing such as a night dress, shoes with heels and sexy underwear. All that type of clothing comes to be part of the girls’ wardrobe when she starts to mature and reach a certain moment of her life. These days, I feel comfortable with my compulsory, practical clothing because the horrible fact is that due to my spinal cord injury, now I have a body that I don’t want to show’.” Cure Girl Barbara