Elsie Tellier has always loved fashion. But living with Cystic Fibrosis, a terminal illness that can make breathing difficult, her garments play a practical role as well as an aesthetic one. Wanting to offer people with disabilities stylish ‘fits that can be comfortably worn in wheelchairs, the Latina started her own fashion blog.
“Disabled people are the world’s largest minority but have the least representation,” the 20-year-old Mexican-French Canadian told Teen Vogue.
“I always have fun by dressing in a fun way that makes me feel great. People have the opportunity to strike up conversations on the street about what I’m wearing and my style.”
The Harvard student’s preppy glam look is often accompanied by her wheelchair, which has a pink galaxy and flowers painted on its wheels to match the fashionista’s overall mode. Tellier’s garbs often also have a loose fit, which she says helps with her damaged vestibular system and joint problems.
“A lot of fashion concerns that arise for chronically ill and disabled people tend to involve mobility, comfort, and medical access,” Tellier said.
A post shared by Elsie?♿️ (@65pinkroses) on
“For people who have mobility limitations, having clothes that stretch, have easy-to-use clasps/closures [are important]. When it comes to chronic pain, ADHD, skin conditions, or anything else that can cause tactile hypersensitivity, it is important that clothes are soft, have seams that aren’t too itchy, and minimal clothing tags.”
She continues: “If you’re someone who uses nasal cannula (oxygen tubes), feeding tubes, PICC lines (an opening in the arm for long-term IV access), or any other medical device, which stays on your body for a long time, then you need clothes that make them easy to reach and help keep them clean.”
While these days Tellier doesn’t need to use her wheelchair as much as she used to, she says she still takes photos with it to show that people living with disabilities are beautiful and in vogue — a message she once needed to hear herself.
“I used to feel ugly in my chair and want to show that you can still be fashionable,” she wrote on Twitter.
For those confused! I'm not paralyzed, I use a wheelchair for a damaged vestibular system + joint problems! I used to use it daily but now I walk a lot more! When I'm in my chair I take pics bc I used to feel ugly in my chair and want to show that you can still be fashionable! pic.twitter.com/JETRW3kkqw
— Elsie ♿️? (@65PinkRoses) February 14, 2018
With her blog, Tellier is also calling on the fashion industry to take notice. As she says, “as much as I live for the aesthetic, it would be my dream to see brands think of not only appearance but find ways to turn comfort into art.”