Part 1 - My journey into fashion

Going out of the “norm” is what I love to do, but it hasn't always been like this for me.

Growing up, I always wanted to blend into the crowd, but this was difficult for me with having a visibly physical disability. Having Cerebral Palsy makes small things for me, little things that you wouldn't even know, quite difficult for me to do. Doing up shoelaces, talking to an in-patient stranger, doing up buttons both on jeans and shirts, writing pen to paper, etc.

My first inspiration for clothes came from what I saw on TV. My teenage years where very isolating for me; I had friends in school, but at the same time I didn't. Many of my fellow non-disabled peers weren't educated or aware of disabled people; and therefore, they didn't know how to interact with a young disabled folk like myself.

I didn't know many disabled people when I was younger, and I only knew a couple that were older than me. During this time, as well as my younger years, I didn't have a disabled role model to look up to, so I relied on my parents a lot more then the next generation would. Many children with disabilities in today's world; would have a role model/mentor with a disability, and they can most likely ask them the questions that non-disabled parents don't know how to answer.

Image description: Layne is wearing a colourful dress and black leggings. They are in front of a giant poster of two people. You would see two sets of legs, one person is wearing pink pants, and the other person is wearing yellow pants. They are both are wearing a colourful leotards with matching belts to their pants. In the top-right corner of the image is Layne's logo, and in the bottom-left corner of the image there is a light purple circle, which says, " Part 1 - My journey into fashion".

Back at the time, I had a lot of spare time for myself. I didn't work in this time due to how much I was struggling socially inside school, so I watched a lot of TV during my spare time. This is where I got my first taste in fashion from. Blending in with clothes that characters wear and my friends wear when they're not at school. I believed at the time this was enough to blend in the crowd, and to be treated equally to everyone else – at the end of the day nothing worked enough, to convince my friends to not look at my disability. I identify as a disabled person, but this isn't and will never be my entire identity. I wanted people to see the personality, and the humour that came with me, rather than worrying about my access needs.

It wasn't until around four years ago at my year ten River Cruise, that I could feel a little bit of a future me, a Layne that no one knew has seen yet. I went over to my cousins house a couple weeks before, mum and her friends took off to Bali for a birthday holiday with mates. I needed to get something to wear, and I didn't have anything to wear. With my cousin being a little bit older then me. She let me borrow one of her old outfits that she couldn't fit into anymore.

Just “OMG” I felt like a completely different version of myself. With trying on a multi-coloured dress, I could feel something with this outfit that I haven't felt before. I didn't know this at the time, but I saw my future self in the 16-year-old Layne. “OMG this isn't me, but I love it”, it wasn't an outfit that I would choose to wear, but it was the only one that screamed out my name to me.

It came to the night, and I was so nervous about what my peers thought. Some of them loved it, while the others didn't even recognise it. This came to a shock for me, as the only thing I wanted to do was to “blend into the crowd”.

I thought I would change my wardrobe from that night forward, but in fact, I didn't. The same issue was there, with not included in activities outside of school hours, I was still afraid of what people thought about my appearance. Looking back now, I am like “why on EARTH did I go back to normal? Everyone liked what I wore”. But this wasn't the issue, the only thing I wanted from my peers was to be included, and for people to see me as Layne, not a Layne with a disability, or Layne with some complications.

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