Chronic Fashion Diva

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

November 27th, 2010 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

As I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, health and wellness is often addressed in black-and-white terms, when in fact it has so many gradations, permutations, and subtleties. In my living room, for example, I can leap and twirl and jump and stand on my head. But dancing in a nightclub is a different beast altogether.

For starters, there’s the whole crowd control issue — people pushing and shoving past each other, which is dangerous for my sensitive body. Then there’s the scum-bucket factor — asshole men out to cop a feel, which always ends up with me decking someone. Again, not a preferred option for my sensitive body.

And of course, there’s the issue of shoes. I need shoes that are super duper comfortable. At community dance jams, I bounce around with my Bloch jazz sneakers, which have the support of a sneaker and the flexibility of a dance shoe. But what am I going to wear at a nightclub? My Italian knee-high, like-buttah leather boots, with criss-cross Victorian lacing up and down the front, awesome to dance in for both look and feel, hand-picked during a trip to Milan, are stashed in my storage unit in Tel Aviv.

In the early 1990s, I had a shorter, stockier version of those boots, from a Canadian company that went out of business. Santana, methinks. Also fabulous to dance around in. But in recent years, I’ve had a rilly hard time finding a boot that’s a cross-section between happy dance shoe and hip clubbing shoe.

In addition to needing dance-specific shoes, I need dance-specific clothing.  In my living room, I wear spandex pants and tops that give me total flexibility. The whole Dancing with Pain® idea is that Body runs the show. I flow with the energy wherever it is moving. I can’t be constricted by silly fashion attire.

In my previous spotted attempts to reemerge on the dance floor at local nightclubs, I have brought my dance shoes and changed into them in the bathroom. I’ve also worn my spandex pants under a skirt, along with a fluid top. I’ve had a great time dancing, but honestly, I looked totally unhip and felt completely out of place.

In the interest of resolving this and other fashion dilemmas, I spent a couple of years seeking the answer in comfort fashion shoe stores.  I spent hours and hours going through different shoe options, driving the sales people batty.  I walked around and around in the top contenders for up to 10 minutes per shoe, to ensure that they honest-to-goodness would not end up causing me pain. I sent scores of shoes back to the racks and shelled out thousands of dollars on the ones that seemed winners.

But in almost all of these cases, the shoes left my ankles fucked within half an hour or an hour of walking them in real life. Forget dancing in them. I therefore have a closet full of gorgeous, expensive, unwearable shoes. Despite repeated efforts to get back in fashion gear, I inevitably have ended up parading around in my Nikes, Reeboks, or Asics.

Then there’s the matter that shopping is just a total energy drain. What’s more, with limited funds — common to people like me, who have shelled out their life savings on health care — there is just a whole other layer of complication to getting the look I want.

To be honest, while I’ve made some attempts at it here and there, looking good has been pretty low on my priority list over the past, oh, 15 years or so. I have been more interested in being pain-free, having energy, and otherwise being as comfortable as possible.

But I’m feeling strong and healed enough, as well as bored enough with my attire, that I’m giving myself a chronic fashion diva makeover. Last week, I went through my closet and threw into two big black trash bags anything that I did not feel like a hottie wearing.  I did keep a number of cashmere sweaters for the warmth factor, even though they’ve all shrunk to a size or two too small for me by now.

Next I’m heading off to thrift stores that will do an exchange of clothing. And I’m also putting the word out to shoe-makers that on behalf of myself and those like me, we need a line of gorgeous shoes that are made for moving in, instead of looking at. Little to no heel. Super supportive. Good bounce factor.

As soon as I finish unpacking, when I hopefully stumble across my video camera, I’ll turn this process into a vlog. Hopefully I’ll learn a thing or two along the way that will help other chronic hotties get their groove thang back.

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