Why are people so scared of mental health problems and disability? It has always been a mystery to me, and having thought that the world was becoming more accepting and understanding, on Saturday I found out just how wrong I was.
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of working with Style Guru Ronke Fashola on a catwalk show of her designs for her label Love ur Look, and then a month or so later helping put together her designs for a shoot with Mature Model – Jan Bryant. When Ronke asked a few weeks ago about some dates in the future for styling events with her other company, Stylizers Ltd. I jumped at the chance to work with her again (she’s so inspiring!)
The job was a personal styling, hair & make-up session for nine women, all with some form of disability. They are all members of The Westminster Society for people
with learning disabilities – a great organisation that provide support and services for people with learning disabilities and their families. We met in the very glamourous Personal Styling Suite in Westfields Designer Village, where Ronke, her assistant Boo, myself and 5 support helpers from The Westminster Society were on hand to style, groom, and above all, have fun with the girls. Each person had an individual make-up and hair consultation with myself, a body-shape analysis with the Stylizers and a one-to-one style consultation with either Ronke or Boo. The girls tried on loads of fab clothes, kindly leant to us by New Look, Evans, Primark and DPS, as well as some of Ronke’s own pieces. At the end of it all we had a catwalk show so that everyone could strut their respective stuff and gain a little more confidence with their new look. I can honestly say I haven’t enjoyed a job that much in… Well I can’t even remember how long. The women and their helpers were so lovely – big hearts, big personalities and a fantastic sense of humour.
After the day had finished and everyone had made their way home the Stylizers and myself were packing up our stuff and Ronke turned to me and thanked me for my work today. Then she said something that I did not expect: Two other style consultancy companies had turned down the job before it was offered to Ronke. Why? Because the women had disabilities. This upset me a lot, which is why I’m blogging about it – those of you who read my blogs often will know that I’m not really into being preachy, mainly I just state the facts of the day!
In short – don’t be prejudiced or scared of people who are different from you. Those with learning disabilities are the same as any other person, they just have a little more trouble communicating their thoughts and ideas. Long term mental illness is also just another long-term illness. It’s not something people can choose to have. Open your minds and hearts, you never know – you might actually enjoy it!
If you want to find out more about The Westminster Society and their work, have a look at their Facebook page by clicking this link:
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