Getting Comfortable In My Style

Living with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) brings its own set of challenges. Some challenges are glaringly obvious. Others play out behind the scenes.

Growing up, I didn’t really care much about what I wore. As long as it was comfy and let me move freely, I was good. Whatever my mom picked out for me became my outfit for the day – no big deal. But as I hit my teenage years and middle school, I started wanting to express myself through my clothing. I wanted to create my own style that felt true to me.

Fashion struggles

And that’s where the struggle began.

SMA has shaped my body in ways that make finding fashionable clothes a bit tricky. At 28, I don’t have the typical body of a girl my age who weighs around 130 pounds. Scoliosis has dramatically shifted my spine, pulling my stomach and torso significantly to the right. Alongside that, my chest and shoulders are on the smaller side, while my thighs and hips carry a bit more puffiness due to challenges in muscle tone. To add to the mix, my ankles and feet are often curved outward and swollen.

Finding cute clothes that fit is a challenge

In a world catered to able-bodied shoppers, finding clothes for my unique body is a real challenge. I see lots of cute clothes, but I know they won't fit comfortably or may not fit at all. I end up passing them by.

This used to bother me a lot, especially in my teenage years. I just wanted to wear clothes that felt right for my age, but it seemed impossible in the girls’ section. Other girls effortlessly rock cute outfits, making me insecure because I know they wouldn't work for my body and wheelchair lifestyle.

Some clothes just don't work

Pants are my eternal struggle. I’d love to wear jeans, but the hassle of getting into them and the discomfort of sitting in a wheelchair for 8-10 hours a day just isn’t worth it. The tight fabric pulls and pinches, leaving sores. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be a skinny jeans kind of girl, even though I adore the look. The same goes for shorts, certain sweaters, and coats – if the material is too stiff, it’s a no-go. I’d kill to be able to wear a peacoat.

Go-to fashion choices that work for me

Shopping is one of my favorite things. Over the years, I’ve compiled quite a list of finds that work for me that I return to time and again. Leggings and neutral-toned pajama pants have become my wardrobe staples. Target and Walmart have been my go-to places for finding comfy yet stylish pieces that suit my lifestyle.

Stretchy fabrics with spandex are a lifesaver when someone else is dressing you. Each store has its sizing guide; sometimes, a guy's graphic t-shirt fits better than a woman's. I can range from women's size Large or XL to even a Small.

No longer comparing my style to others

Now, at 28, I’ve reached a point where I really don’t care much about what I wear. As long as it’s not tight or form fitting. I let go of comparing my body to others and accepted that this is me, and that’s totally okay. Sure, insecurities still pop up, but not like they used to. I spend most of my time at home, in pajamas – and that’s absolutely fine.

For outings or special occasions, I’ve got a few key pieces that strike a balance between comfort and style. Graphic t-shirts from the men’s section or loose-fitting band tees are my go-to choices.

Instead of a heavy coat, I opt for a lightweight hoodie, and fuzzy socks beat shoes any day – my feet hardly touch the ground anyway. Although I have found a brand of shoes called Billy Footwear that are made to be adaptable!

It’s funny how our biggest insecurities can transform over the years, and suddenly, you find yourself saying, “Well, this is okay. This is me.”

Comfort has become my style

So here I am, navigating the world of fashion with my unique twist. Over the years, I've learned that comfort is my best ally, and I've embraced my style, quirks and all. Life has a way of reshaping our insecurities, and I've come to realize that authenticity is the most fashionable thing you can wear.

Sure, I still have my moments of insecurity, but they don't define me. Whether I'm rocking pajamas at home or finding the perfect graphic tee for an outing, I've found my rhythm. Fashion isn't just about clothes; it's a reflection of who we are. And as I continue this journey, I'm learning to celebrate every curve thrown at me, both in my style and in my life.

After all, this is me, and that's more than okay – it's beautiful in its own unique way.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SpinalMuscularAtrophy.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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