You know what they say: another day (or week in this case), another discovery. And this week’s discovery was more of a reawakening than a realization. In addition to working on Oxygen’s upcoming fashion-based shows, I’ve been styling my friends and helping them shop for the outfits that I know will make them look best. I’ve always loved shopping and clothes and all that fun stuff that comes with being a girl living 20 minutes from New York. So it’s not like my boyfriend Chris had to twist my arm to get me to help him buy new clothes for the Fall. It’s become a relationship routine of sorts; with every major change in weather, we head to the mall and I pick out some basic pieces and cool accessories to supplement his seasonal wardrobe. He ends up looking quite put-together and handsome, if I do say so myself. This autumn I was going for a sleek look with button-downs, sweaters, and vests (think Justin Timberlake circa 2007), so I was running around the store looking for the clothes and then running back to his dressing room to deliver the next piece for him to try on. Then just a few days later, I hit the mall with my friend Lyss to find her new outfits for Fall. And yes, I must say I enjoyed these shopping outings immensely, especially since I believe that what a person wears says soooo much about him or her.

One glove only

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t love fashion for the reasons that non-fashionistas (is there even a term for people who aren’t into clothes?) may think. I’m not shallow or all that materialistic, and I certainly don’t judge people solely on appearance. But whether or not you’re pretty/plain/rich/poor/disabled/all of the above, you have the freedom to choose exactly how to decorate and present your body to the world. And how awesome is that? As a writer/creative/media professional/artist/20-something/whatever you want to call me, I’m really into personalizing everything. From the background photo of my baby cousins on my iPhone to my hot pink and zebra print bedroom (rawr), it’s all about self-expression. And what better canvas than the body that takes me through every moment and every action to showcase who I am?

Now let’s get one thing straight: I don’t buy into the “ideal figures only” approach to fashion. Having a disability doesn’t preclude me from celebrating the way I look and wearing the clothes I want to wear. And over the past few years I’ve found a handful (haha, I love puns) of ways to highlight and prettify my asymmetrical figure. Sadly, though, the computer that was home to the majority of my photos crashed a while back. So I hope you don’t mind if I post pictures I found on Google or store websites instead of pics of me in the completed looks. Anyway, I type too much. So without further ado:

1) One-Shoulder Tops/Dresses – I LOVE asymmetrical necklines because they mirror the unevenness of my arms and make the statement that strange or different proportions are beautiful. There’s a lot of talk in the science world about beauty and symmetry being synonymous, but this look proves that it’s the unique and the off-kilter that strikes the eye and holds attention.

Subtle but lovely

2) Upper Arm Bracelets/Cuffs – When I’m not wearing my prosthetic hand, I don’t have a wrist on my left arm to wear a bracelet. But I think that arm deserves to wear pretty accessories too, so upper arm cuffs work particularly well. Plus, it’ll go just as great with a party dress as it will with casual jeans and a tank top. If Cleopatra could pull it off waaaaay back when, then I say why not?

3) Opera Gloves – Yes, they look super fancy shmancy over the prosthetic and paired with a cocktail dress, but I think it’s also pretty cool to wear just one on any given day. (Note: For me, it started for practical reasons rather than as a fashion statement. The “skin” on the prosthetic was easily stained by ink on newspapers and books, and I hated how it looked “dirty” so I just wore the glove over it.)

4) Grecian/Roman Goddess-Inspired – The famous Venus de Milo statue has long served as a standard of beauty for all women, in spite of AND due to her lack of arms. So it’s always fun to channel this icon with a Greek/Roman-inspired piece or full outfit.

So there you go – just a few ideas on how I like to use clothes and style to my advantage. I hope this has been an interesting post. And I promise I’ll start taking more pics of what I wear so I can post them on this blog. Do you want to see more style/fashion content on this blog? Let me know what you think.

Caitlin 🙂

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tuesdays with mari and the rest of the gang

Hello and happy Tuesday! It’s been an interesting day so far. An incident that occurred this morning has made me realize that I’ve probably forgotten to disclose some pretty big information to anyone reading this blog: how my short arm came to be the way it is. I was at work talking to some co-workers (the fabulous Mari, Alyssa, and Liz) when a former employee moseyed on in and struck up a conversation with us. One of his first comments upon meeting me was about my arm. He wanted to know why I was wearing a single black silk glove a la Michael Jackson. (The reason for that, in case you’re wondering, is because the “skin” of the prosthetic attracts ink from newspapers/magazines/books/anything and gets really dark, which makes me look like a white girl with a black girl’s arm.) Anyway, the guy looked pretty embarrassed and uncomfortable after I told him that the arm was fake. Once he got over that, though, he asked me how I “lost” it. That’s when the girls I work with admitted that they had always wondered about it but were too nervous about potentially offending me to ask. I find that really funny, since I’ve known them for so long. So here’s the story for anyone who’s too shy to ask me!

While I’d love to tell you a super cool story about a dangerous encounter with a vicious tiger or something like that, the reality is pretty boring: I was born this way. That’s really all I know about it. My mom had a perfectly healthy pregnancy (despite miscarrying two other babies at the time, since I was supposed to be a triplet.) She didn’t do anything weird or unusual, and she wasn’t exposed to any crazy chemicals or radioactive stuff. My arm was a complete surprise. It just never developed into a normal arm, I guess.

My parents had me fitted for my first prosthetic when I was three months old. I’ve been wearing an artificial arm ever since. I only really use it when I’m in public, though. It’s way too uncomfortable and annoying to wear when I’m around my family or people I know well. The one you usually see me with is purely cosmetic, meaning it doesn’t do anything. The one I have at home is Myoelectric and opens/closes like a real flesh-and-blood arm. So yeah, I’m part bionic.  🙂

That’s basically the whole story. There’s nothing tragic or inspirational about it. It is what it is. Oh, and please don’t ever be nervous about asking me questions. I’m NOT easily offended, not unless you start to pity me. (Pity’s just one of those useless sentiments that does no one any good. I’ve got a GREAT life, so you don’t need to feel bad for me because I naturally weigh two or so fewer pounds (or however much a forearm weighs) than the average girl my height and pay half-price for manicures. Really, I’m doing well.) I’d actually prefer it if you asked me about my arm. I get it – you’re curious. That’s human. So go ahead and ask so that you don’t feel awkward around me. After all, it’s just another quality that makes me me. I have brown eyes, curly hair, and one arm. It’s not a bad thing, but it IS different. And it’s totally natural to want to know more about something that’s different.

Caitlin 🙂

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