Sunday, September 30, 2012


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 :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

little ones

My family's been doing a lot of growing lately. And I don't just mean we're getting older; there are a couple new additions in the form of little Emma (who is almost 3 months old) and Natalia (who just celebrated her first month.) My two cousins gave birth to beautiful baby girls this summer. Now I don't know if it's just because I'm female, but I looooove babies. They're so cute and tiny and innocent. And the way they trust you so completely is so sweet.

Other people's kids are adorable. But when your relatives have babies, it's like those little cutiepies are yours too. So I'm over their houses as often as I can be, changing diapers and pushing strollers and dressing them in the latest baby fashions. I just can't get enough of these newborns though, of course, Emma's older brother Luke will always be my first baby. 

Speaking of Luke (whom I blogged about a while ago), he's just discovered the fact that the reason my left arm looks different than most people's is because I don't have a hand. Here's a brief transcript of our conversation a few weeks ago:

Emma in her ballerina tutu

Luke (matter-of-factly): "KT, you have only one arm. "

Me: "Yes, Luke, I do."

Luke (grabbing my right hand, which I do have): "Everybody, I want to hold KT's hand because she has one arm."

Me (not quite understanding his 3-year-old's logic): "Okay."

Luke: "KT, can I have your phone so I can play a game?"

Me (making sure my iPhone is sealed within an indestructible Luke-proof case): "Sure. I just bought some new games for you."

Luke: "Aw, shucks! Thanks, KT! Can you help me beat them?"

What I love about this exchange is that he realized the whole one-hand situation but still took for granted that I could help him win the games like anyone else. That's the kind of attitude I wish more adults would adopt. Note to everyone: take a hint from this adorable 3-year-old and just assume that I can take care of myself. In fact, you should assume that of all people with physical differences and at least pretend not to be shocked when they tell you about how they play guitar with one hand or run their own company or were formerly married to a Beatle (ever heard of Heather Mills?). Luke acknowledged the difference, but he didn't make it a huge deal or change the way he acts towards me.

Princess Natalia the daydreamer
Anyway, that's my little Luke for you. He's a happy-go-lucky boy who's a bit precocious and way too smart for his age. I love him with all my heart, even when he openly admits that he loves my boyfriend Chris more than he loves me. Chris is really good with Luke, playing along in his many imaginative epic sword-fighting and gun-shooting adventures. He also loves kids and has no problem looking silly if it means getting a smile out of a toddler.

One night after playing with Luke, Chris and I stopped for coffee when I felt the need to tell him something that had just struck me as extremely important. I blurted out to him that my disability is not genetic and that my children would be completely unaffected. He seemed surprised. "Oh, okay," was all he said. Wait....I thought. He hadn't known this? Curious and somewhat confused, I asked him why he had stayed in a serious relationship with me if he thought that his future babies could be born with a missing limb. I have to say, his answer was a pretty damn good one:

"Because I love you and I don't care. And I know they would be fine, like you."

Caitlin :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

still beautiful

When I was little, I wanted to be a Disney princess and look like Britney Spears. I know, I know - what was I thinking, right? Britney? Really??? Well, in my defense, late 90s/early 00s Britney was like Selena Gomez/Victoria Justice/whoever else (I feel so old right now) is currently famous in the tween world. Everyone wanted her style and her dance moves and her seemingly perfect relationship with Justin Timberlake. And what 90s girl didn't want to don a ball gown and marry a handsome prince like a Disney princess? They were the standard of beauty that every tween wanted to look and be like: Britney, any Disney princess, and the infamous Barbie Doll. But Britney Spears and the Disney princesses and even Barbie were thin and beautiful and had all four limbs intact. So who was a chubby kid with a limb difference supposed to look up to for reassurance that she was beautiful? 
Fortunately, times are a little different now. There's much more diversity in youth culture (with everything from the first African American Disney princess to Glee character Artie (and Quinn, briefly) who uses a wheelchair), but what many people don't realize is that the need to see others who look like you in the media doesn't end in childhood or even tweenhood. Recently, while doing research on the fashion industry since my company is working on a new show about models (you can follow The Face here, actually), I've discovered several women with limb differences who work in the media. And a part  of me can't help but wish I had strong and successful people like them to look up to during my formative years when I was feeling ugly and believed it was impossible to be beautiful or sexy with only one hand. 
Just a few weeks ago, a young filmmaker named Jana emailed me and asked if she could interview me for a project she's working on about women with disabilities and the idea of sexiness. I'll be the first to admit that it took me a looooong time to think of myself as sexy or pretty. There were definitely moments when I looked in the mirror and knew I looked good, but there was always the nagging thought that I would never be desirable because I looked so different. As much as I'd starve myself and exercise like a maniac (although that's a whole other issue you'll find out about in a future post), I never had the "perfect body." I'd pick on my flaws and cake on my makeup to compensate for my perceived ugliness. But that wasn't working for me. And in addition to finally letting myself see myself as a human being who obviously isn't going to be perfect, I've realized that I need to stop defining myself by individual parts of me. I may have one hand, but that's not all I am. Yes, I have athletic legs and Taylor Swift curls. But that's not all I am either. That's not what makes me sexy and it's not why my boyfriend is with me. It may be cliche, but I think sexiness comes from knowing your true value. If you take care of yourself and carry yourself like you KNOW and feel that you're awesome, then that's sexy. You don't need to have Barbie's impossible proportions to know that.
Of course, I understand how hard it is to just say "Hey, I'm sexy" and really believe it, especially with the media's focus on who's hot or not and how much baby weight celebs have put on. So it always helps me to see others who have limb differences in the spotlight. Watching them take on the world and own their look really inspires me to do the same. So just in case you're insecure about your body or limb difference specifically, since I've seen a lot of bloggers whose young daughters have hands similar to mine, here are some role models who have made it and who just so happen to be missing one or more limbs. 

Tanja Kiewitz
Tanja Kiewitz was relatively unknown until she posed in this advertisement for disability awareness. The ad is a copy of an older Wonderbra ad featuring model Eva Herzigova. The tagline, which reads "Look me in the eyes...I said the eyes," is the same on both images. And although I am not in any way condoning or encouraging young girls to put on a bra and pose half-nude, whether or not they have a limb difference, I still think it's pretty cool that they portrayed her as sexy with a limb difference instead of ignoring her body and just showing a pretty face. And if I dare say so, I think Tanja is much prettier than the other model (whose facial features are rather strange-looking.)

Shaholly Ayers
Shaholly Ayers is so gorgeous that you may have missed the fact that her right arm is actually a prosthetic. To be honest, I don't know a lot about her. But there are times that I wish I could be as confident and comfortable as she is with her congenital limb difference. She poses both with and without a prosthetic. And there are several photos in which she doesn't even attempt to hide her arm, which I find very bold and inspiring in a profession that puts so much emphasis on perfect appearances. 
Shaholly again

Aviva Drescher

Aviva Drescher is currently one of the stars on the hit television show Real Housewives of New York. If the last name sounds familiar, that's because her husband's cousin is actress Fran Drescher. Aviva lost her leg in an accident when she was a young girl and, like so many others, she's made a happy life for herself. She's married with four children and starring on a Bravo show. Although the show does not always reveal her best qualities, Aviva has mentioned that she doesn't mind what critics say about the show as long as she brings awareness to amputees. 

Kelly Knox

Kelly Knox was the winner on BBC's modeling competition show Britain's Missing Top Model. Like me, she was born without a left arm past the elbow. She's appeared in magazines like Marie Claire and in ads for VO5. She also doesn't wear a prosthetic and is much more comfortable without one. 

So there you go: 4 strong and beautiful women to look to for inspiration and motivation whenever you feel down about being different. Even when I feel like absolute crap about the way I look, it's helpful to know that there others in the world who understand. And it's also very encouraging that with their "flaws" and differences, they (and I) are still beautiful.

Caitlin :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

media monday - beauty/fashion hauler vanessa

Happy Labor Day, all! To celebrate, here's a video I found of a YouTube beauty/fashion hauler who was born without hands and feet. Vanessa from Australia gives awesome style tips and has really great taste in fashion (she loves Alexander McQueen, my favorite designer!). In a world where people with disabilities are depicted as abnormal and "different," Vanessa proves that a girl's gonna be a girl (and a perfectly normal one at that). At the end of the day, regardless of how many limbs I have, I'm still into clothes and accessories and I LOVE a good shopping trip. Enjoy the video above and check out all the other vids on her YouTube channel.

Have a stylish week!

Caitlin :)