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LuLaRoe, Disabilities, and No More.

I have made it no secret that I love LuLaRoe. The clothes are cute (when the patterns aren’t fails), they fit well, they’re comfy with my various health issues. And I’m saddened that I have to say no more.

Now, this isn’t the first time LuLaRoe has been problematic, to say the least, in regards to their consultants and disabled people. But for many people, like myself, this is the absolute final straw.

A few days ago, a fairly well known seller posted a video mocking people with disabilities. You can view it here if you haven’t seen it. If you don’t have the stomach for it or have difficulty hearing it, the problem is that Bobby uses The Voice (oh, you know the one. The one people use to mock disabled people. The one people use to make fun of developmental disabilities. THAT one). He declares “My name is Bobby, and I’m special. My name is Bobby, and I’m very special.”

Things blew up, and quickly. People were quick to call him on his ableism, quick to point out that this was making fun of disabilities. Quick to say that hey, this isn’t an acceptable way for someone conducting a business to act, nevertheless someone who is a decent human being.

He apologized. Well, sort of. You can see the apology video here but it’s long and ableist, so I’ll summarize for you. They defended it, because they have a disabled family member and that’s how they “joke around” with her. They apologized that they shouldn’t have done it… live. Shut the front door. They aren’t sorry that they mocked people with disabilities. They’re sorry they did it in a live video. He also says super weird things like “I always thought I’d have a Down Syndrome in my family” which, um, doesn’t really make a lot of sense? And if that’s how you treat your SIL off camera, just, wow.

Now. I hope your seatbelts are bucked, because the ride is just starting, my friends. The founders of LuLaRoe, Mark and Deanne, have a granddaughter with Down’s syndrome. As the custom is with LLR, Scarlett has a dress named after her. A portion of the proceeds  of the Scarlett dress are donated to the National Down Syndrome Society. LuLaRoe has raised a large amount of money for the NDSS, which was allegedly a post “near and dear” to their hearts. Right? So clearly they would choose their granddaughter over a consultant.

Wrong.

The National Down Syndrome Society found out what happened. And they were pissed. They gave LuLaRoe an firm line: either cancel Ableist Consultant’s contract or they were severing ties with them. You’d think that they’d do the right thing? Oh, nope. Here is the statement from the NDSS. And here is the statement from LLR.

Notice how very different they are? LLR’s statement is very “poor us,” They chose someone who mocked disabilities over supporting their granddaughter. They chose someone who violated their terms and conditions, over their granddaughter. Don’t believe me? Here, have a screenshot of the terms and conditions.

 

Here is the text/copy pasted for those with screen readers or who are Blind/Low Vision.

“Each Independent Fashion Consultant agrees to adhere to the following:

1. Conduct themselves and their business operations in a legal, moral, honest and ethical manner at all times.

2. Avoid actions that could result in conflict with other Independent Fashion Consultants or customers.

3. Honestly present the product and income opportunities

. 4. Speak well of LLR, other LLR Independent Fashion Consultants and our competitors. 5. Focus on building business through relationship building and superior customer service.

6. Abide by product guaranty and return policies.

Here are the last two items: 

Plain text:

“7. Follow incentive guidelines for your party Hostesses.

8. Conduct your business in such a way that strengthens the LLR brand and improves the opportunity for all Independent Fashion Consultants”

Okay. Hold up. The ethical and moral part? Does that only apply to consultants they don’t like? Apparently, because this guy STILL HAS A CONTRACT. Why? Because they don’t want to hurt his ability to provide for his family. Do “ethics and morals” only apply when it is against someone you don’t like? Why is it someone allowed to act in a way that isn’t ethical or moral, but apparently that isn’t a violation because “oh, he said he was sorry?” Saying you’re sorry means you still have to accept the consequences. But they chose to stand with a consultant…but not the NDSS.

And so, they hurt the ability of the NDSS to support children. Between the gala last year, the Buddy Walk, and donations, LuLaRoe raised a large sum of money for the NDSS. And they chose one consultant over all that. They chose a consultant who mocked their granddaughter.  

I believe that people can make mistakes and learn. But this isn’t a mistake. This isn’t the first time that LuLaRoe hasn’t done anything about discrimination toward disabilities. Consultants have discriminated against deaf customers. They still have contracts. Deanne herself referred to kids with sensory processing issues as “weird sensory issues”.

I am angry. And you know why? The apology that was given was very much a “we’re sorry we got caught”. I know this because it’s the same tune, different words that was always used when someone was told they had to apologize for bullying me. And every. single. time. they did it again. They just got savvier about it, they just changed the way they did it. It never stopped. And the apology was about the consultant and how they felt, not about the people who were impacted.

I am grateful for LuLaRoe. I met friends through it I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and other friendships were deepened. And that is invaluable to me. But I can’t support them any longer. I hate that I can no longer in good faith support my friends, I hate that I now feel sick to my stomach thinking about buying it. But when they are refusing to uphold their own terms and conditions (how is making fun of disabilities ethical? Why did this person get a get out of jail free card, when other contracts have been terminated for far lesser infractions?). If this had been a “little fish in the sea” consultant, I fully believe their contract would be terminated.

But as a result of this, the consultant gained business.  The group numbers increased. People flooded their page to buy their LLR, to support them. OF COURSE LuLaRoe isn’t going to terminate their contract, because it’s lining their pockets. Why are we allowing money to trump basic human decency?

Prove me wrong, LuLaRoe. You know better, so why the heck aren’t you doing better? You can’t bring out the ignorance card: people have tried to educate you. People have told you why your decision hurts them. And you don’t care. You have proven, over and over again, that you don’t care for me and my kind.

And that’s why I have to say no more. It’s why I am done with you. I can’t support someone who doesn’t support some of the most important people in my world – who thinks of lining their pockets before doing what’s right. Shame on you.

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When doing the thing seems impossible

I hate how hard things are some times. How I balance two extremes – when faced with extreme emotions, I even break down or shut down. There’s no middle line, there’s no balance. It flips from one to the other, and it’s so frustrating for both myself and those around me.

I hate how simple things are so overwhelmingly hard. Like household tasks, simple self care, etc. There isn’t even a way to articulate why it’s hard because even that is, well, too hard and too overwhelmingly lazy.

To those outside, I look lazy, I look selfish, I look like I blow things off and don’t care. But I do care, and I do want to do things. I want to be productive. I want to do the things I need to do in life, instead of doing, well, nothing. But when you have poor executive function, it just seems so impossible.

I break down tasks to try and make them easier, but it doesn’t always work that way. I have other people help me when possible, and it still seems so overwhelmingly. I so quickly go into disaster mode that it makes it such a delicate act to try and even do the most basic tasks.

I don’t even know why I’m writing this – I don’t have any profound advice on how to do the thing, I don’t have anything new to say that people haven’t heard before. But maybe it’s to show other people that the way they’re doing things isn’t weird or isn’t wrong – that for some people, it’s just HARD and that’s okay. Finding your own way of doing things is fine, Doing things in an unorthodox way is fine.

It’s just too bad society seems to struggle with those who don’t do things in the traditional cookie-cutter ways, so it’s those who need to break out of the mold the most that suffer as a result. Because while our ways work for us, society nopes out of them. But there is nothing wrong with our way, even if it’s not “normal”.

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Go light your world

  So carry your candle, run to the darkness Seek out the lonely, the tired and worn And hold out your candle for all to see it Take your candle, and go light your world I went to a Christmas Eve service on, well, Christmas Eve. We closed with Silent Night by candlelight. One of,…
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If there’s any hope for love at all, some walls must fall

Some walls are made of stone,
Sometimes we build our own
Some walls will stand for years,
Some wash away with tears
Some walls, some walls

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a ball of nerves and anxiety. Most people know I have a fairly traumatic past, albeit  bits and pieces of the details. And many have asked how the heck I survived  it. They’ve asked how I’ve gotten through. I’ve always just kind of shrugged – I kind of survived to prove the whole world wrong that I couldn’t (want me to do something? Tell me I can’t or tell me it’s impossible. I WILL prove you wrong.)

I survived by building walls. It wasn’t safe to cope with things as a child, it wasn’t safe to let anyone know how broken and upset I was. So I built walls. For years, those walls have kept me safe. It’s how I survived a painful childhood, it’s how I coasted through college. I wasn’t in a safe place to cope, I wasn’t in a safe place to deal with with everything being thrown at me.

Some walls are lined with gold
Where some hearts stay safe and cold
Some walls are made of doubt
Holding in and keeping out

And so, I built careful walls to keep myself safe and to, quite literally, survive. I didn’t know who was safe and who wasn’t. I’d been backstabbed so many times that the thought of letting anyone see past the walls was terrifying. I’d break down the walls, little by little, and then realize it wasn’t safe and go back into hiding behind the walls.

After so many years of hiding behind careful walls, it has a tendency to blow up spectacularly  in your face. You see, those walls have been up to keep my heart safe. To make sure that no one can hurt me. But here’s the thing.

How will you ever know what might be found
Until you let the walls come tumbling down
If there’s any hope for love at all,
Some walls, some walls must fall

It took years for me to build the walls, years of closing people out and pushing the world away. I don’t know how to let the walls fall. Everything has been cooped up, pushed in, so tightly protected for so long that while the walls need to come tumbling down, I am absolutely terrified of what will happen if I start breaking down the walls. It feels like a dangerous game of Jenga – that if just one brick is removed, things may stay stable but if too many bricks are removed, everything comes crashing down out of control and I won’t be able to stop.

But yet…if I want love to win, if I want to ENJOY my life, if I want to THRIVE, the walls have to come down and I need to deal with the reasons I built them in the first place. If I want to live without fears, pain, and anxiety consuming me…the walls need to come down. I just have so many fears of what will happen if I let the walls come down. But what is scarier? Living with the walls I know and the familiarity of depression and anxiety  or finally seeing what is beyond that? Which one is more worthwhile? I just don’t know how to bring the walls down, but I think I’m finally ready to learn.

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It’s been a long day without you, my friend

Two and a half years ago, I lost one of the most important people in my life. Losing Beth was one of the most difficult things that I’ve gone through. It’s been two and a half years and yet I still have found myself picking up my phone to send a text. I still find myself thinking I should share my hospital adventures with here. After all, we bonded through a world of hospital and doctor stories. When I want to talk about baby names,  I find myself thinking “Dang, I should talk to Beth.”

Shortly after Beth died, I read that grief is the price of love. It’s a pretty profound statement, really. By choosing to love, I chose to grieve. By choosing let people in my life, I am ultimately choosing to one day say goodbye in some way, shape, or form. Is it worth it? I think it is.

Beth and I had a pretty incredible, one of a kind friendship. We had so many inside jokes, so many running gags. Some of them I’ve shared with others to keep Beth’s memory alive (the ones that can be somehow explained, I mean) and others will go to my grave as well.

So many days are now longer and darker, simply because I don’t have Beth to share them with. Keep in mind we were exchanging thousands of texts a month, in addition to Facebook convos. The fact she lived in Colorado and I lived in Minnesota didn’t stop a damn thing. The fact that we only hung out in person for one week didn’t change anything. Our friendship was still so natural when we actually met each other.

I didn’t expect to be still reaching for my phone to contact Beth two and a half years later. I didn’t expect my heart to still be broken everything I see anything cinnamon or pumpkin flavored. I didn’t expect to still long to share my hospital adventures. I didn’t expect it to still HURT so much all this time later.

I’ve come to accept that grief doesn’t have a timeline. I’ve come to accept that grief becomes a part of me, a deep part of who I am. And you know what? It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. For my heart-wrenching grief means that Beth is still deeply loved and sorely missed. My grief is my final gift to her. As long as I talk about her, as long I speak her name, her memory still lives on.

 

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the very same fear that makes you want to die, is the same fear that keeps you alive

From the very same fear that makes you want to die,
Is the same fear that keeps you alive

It’s kind of weird. I don’t know what it’s like to not be depressed, to not be anxious. Because I was so young when my trauma started, I don’t know what it’s like NOT to have depression, anxiety, what my life was life Before Trauma. It’s weird, in a way – because this is what I know, the thought of getting better? The thought of not being consumed by things? It’s absolutely terrifying.

I’m not currently suicidal, though I have been in the past. But it’s odd. I was terrified to stay alive. I was terrified that things wouldn’t get better. I was scared to death that things would never change, that I would never see a difference. But at the same time, that very same fear is what kept me going.

Fear often fuels me.  In both good ways, and bad ways. At one point, fear is what drove me to the brink of despair, it’s what drove me to self injury. It’s what kept me from moving on with my life. But yet? At the same time, fear is what inspires me to keep going. It’s what keeps my fire burning because I want to see what happens next.

So often I’ve been told that fear is a bad thing. But I don’t know that it always is. I don’t know that fear is always a horrible thing. Fear is often what kept me safe as a child. Fear is often what made me determined to prove the world wrong. It’s ultimately a matter of what we DO with our fear that matters, not fear itself.

Lyrics from War on Drugs by the Barenaked Ladies

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When chronic illness becomes acute

I am chronically ill. That is no secret. I cope with it as well as I can – I have my good days, I have my bad days. I have the days where I can do things, and I have the days where I lay in a pitiful puddle on the couch with blankets and my stuffed monkey (ideally, a cat or two has joined me).

As a result of chronic illness, I’m pretty tolerant of pain and even the occasional acute illness. But then, you have your chronic illness becoming acute. And that’s when it gets hard. That’s when things start falling apart. That’s when my coping becomes not coping as well as I once did.

As you may have noticed, I’ve not been updating as much as usual. November considered of three ER trips, one urgent care trip, multiple outpatient trips, and an inpatient hospital visit. Things are still bad. My health is still gone.

Things got better for a few days, and then came crashing down again. I try so hard to strike the balance – how do I ration my energy? How do I do the things I need to do? How do I do the things I want to do? How do I live my live and enjoy the ride, vs just hanging in there?

I try so hard to be a good disabled person. I try to stick to my upbeat, happy-go-lucky, spunky self. I try so hard to not be bitter, to not be cynical, to do all the things sick people are supposed to do – roll with the punches, act like I’ve got my act together, keep the delicate balance of keeping real while still keeping certain things quiet.

But it’s at the point where I can’t hide how sick I am. I can’t hide how exhausted I am, despite sleeping. I can’t hide the coughing. I can’t hide the fact that I’m in an incredible amount of pain. I can’t hide the fact that I’m terrified my NF is taking over my life and it isn’t just a minor hiccup. It’s scary. And it’s so *hard*.

I hate the blurred lines between acute and chronic. I hate the fact that my activism and advocacy – the two things I love doing almost more than anything, are taking a hit. My relationships with friends. The things that need to get done simply don’t. I try so hard, I struggle so much, but when chronic becomes acute… it gets hard.

Most of my acute health updates will be published on my CaringBridge, but as this is more general related, I put it here. Because I am sure others can relate to the struggle. The struggle when chronic becomes acute. When accepting being disabled becomes desperately searching for answers and hope and treatment. When trying my damndest just to stay comfortable becomes a struggle.

Be gentle. Handle with care. Because when we cross the delicate line from chronic into acute, that’s when we need your support and for you not to leave us.

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Ableism and Memes

There is something that has really been frustrating me lately, which is why I’m writing a blog entry at nearly 11 pm on Sunday evening after being out of town for nearly a week. But I can’t not say it anymore. I can’t keep quiet about this level of ableism.

There are a couple of memes that are really popular on Facebook lately. They come and go. One of them is a math problem, and implies that there is something wrong with you if you can’t solve it. These happen a lot. The other one is an image, and it implies if you can’t spot the difference, if you can’t see what’s wrong with it, you’re also somehow lesser than.

STOP.

That is ableism.

Not everyone is good at math. I failed multiple math classes at college level. I barely scraped by eighth grade math. I have a learning disorder and as a result, math is very difficult for me. And yet, people make comments like “if you can’t solve this, you shouldn’t be able to breed.” “If you can’t solve this, you shouldn’t be able to vote.” “If you can’t solve this, *insert insult here*”. Okay, really? That’s offensive. I don’t need to be able to solve what to you is a simple algebra problem in order to be a member of society. There’s no reason to belittle those who cannot solve them. If you can? Great! If it is something you struggle with and still manage to figure it out? I’m proud of you. But for some of us, it isn’t possible. For some of us, no amount of trying can make something click in our brains that we literally are incapable of. All it does is hurt us. All it does is make us feel lesser than.

Then there’s the vision memes. You know. “If you cannot spot the red panda, then you don’t deserve to be on the Internet. “If you can’t see the problem, blah blah blah.” Again, stop. There are SO many reasons why this level of ableism is infuriating. It insults blind and low vision people. It insults people who may not be able to focus to find the thing. It mocks those who have very real struggles, and are actually amazing people – their brain just doesn’t work as your brain might.

I know, I know, someone is going to come back with “Well, I didn’t mean people like *you*. You’re obviously smart.” SHUT. UP. If you don’t mean the ones like me, then which ones did you mean? I’ll let those words sink in. You mean the ones that you pick and choose to not be good enough, right? The ones who were disadvantaged by no fault of their own. The ones that society already mocks and looks down on, because they don’t meet your bullcrap levels of good enough.

It’s absurd and ableist to base self-worth, intelligence, and basic rights to people based on just some viral meme. So knock it off.

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To the person who sent me a nastygram

I am disabled.

My disabilities and my health issues, both visible and none, psychiatric and other types, hinder my various abilities in life. I don’t know what it’s like to be able bodied. I don’t know what it’s like not to have a disability.

Being disabled is hard. I sometimes lose things I love – like events I’ve been looking forward to for a year, friendships, certain aspects of freedom. I cope by talking about it.

Like a lot of people in my age demographic, I opened a Sarahah account. I knew I was taking a risk. But I got so many nice, sweet compliments and when I’d feel down, I’d read them and feel better.

But there’s always that one.

“You talk about your health problems too much and it makes you seem desperate for attention and pity. Grow up.”

I don’t do it for attention or for pity. I do it because it’s my life. I do it because it’s the reality of how I live. I literally don’t know life without being disabled.

I assume you wouldn’t tell someone who posted constantly about their kids they were desperate for attention and pity to grow up, right? After all, they live with their kids and see them every day. Most people are okay with people talking about their kids and don’t write them off as immature.

What if someone talked about their hypothetical job constantly? Again, they must be desperate for attention and pity, right? No, I guess not.

So WHY is it so taboo to talk about my health constantly? It’s what I live with every day. Juggling doctors, juggling appointments, finding the fine balance between what I can and can’t do is incredibly difficult. I talk about my health problems. I actually have been working on posting it less.

Disabled people are often put up on a pedestal to admire, we’re expected to be inspirational, we’re expected to defy the odds. But not all of us do. Not all of us defy the odds. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I don’t know who you were. I don’t know who you are. But please, just delete me from Facebook if you’re that annoyed with me talking about my life and existence as  attention or pity? I honestly don’t give a crap if anyone comments on my stuff. If anyone feels bad for me. I just want to talk about my life and my existence as it is.

And finally? Saying something like that anon, and telling me to grow up is actually hilarious. Pretty sure that means I’m not the one who needs to “grow up” if you’re sending anon nastygrams. There’s a delete or block button, and I suggest you utilize that if I annoy you that much.