Media/I can’t wear high heels but that’s OK

I can’t wear high heels but that’s OK

I also stumble regularly, spill drinks and have been refused entry to a pub on more than one occasion. But it’s not because of what you think.

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SYDNEY, WEDNESDAY 30 JULY 2014 – She’s a typical young woman forging a career and leading a hectic social life. But 27-year-old Fairlie Hobson faces the added challenges of inquisitive stares, unwarranted rejections, oh, and not being able to wear high heels.

Fairlie is one of an estimated 35,000 Australians living with cerebral palsy. She has hemiplegia cerebral palsy, which means her left leg and arm are weaker. Whilst you wouldn’t know it at first glance, her cerebral palsy impacts on the most mundane of everyday tasks.

‘I can be walking down the street and trip over my own foot and stumble,’ Fairlie says. ‘It happened one night when I was heading into an inner city nightclub. The security guard on the door refused to let me in, as he thought I’d been drinking. He’d never heard of cerebral palsy.

‘On several occasions I’ve been out with friends and my left hand has gone into a spasm, causing me to spill my drink over whoever is closest. Luckily I have very supportive friends who like a good laugh, and don’t hesitate in standing up to judgemental bouncers!’

Fairlie is telling her story in a humorous blog which is attracting worldwide interest. Titled ‘I can’t wear high heels but that’s OK’, her blog details everything from the difficulties in tying her hair with a weak left hand, to having her shoes fall off on escalators or the bus, and practicing for days just so she could wear thongs in summer.

She says that living with a so-called mild disability means the many challenges she faces are often hidden from the outside world.

‘I’ve had people admire my painted nails’, she says. ‘They are amazed when I tell them I painted my right hand using my mouth, as there’s no way my left hand could do that!

‘It can also take me a frustratingly long time to eat using a knife and fork, not to mention the difficulty I have tying shoe laces. My biggest disappointment, as a fashion lover, is not being able to wear those gorgeous high heel shoes that all little girls dream about. I have to resort to ballet flats with an elastic edging that hug my foot. Luckily they’re in fashion at the moment!’

Fairlie hopes that by telling her story, other kids with mild cerebral palsy will realise that most challenges can be overcome. And she hopes everyday Australians learn that things are not always as they seem.

‘Don’t be so quick to assume someone has been drinking just because they stumble occasionally, or can’t walk without their shoe falling off. Disability comes in lots of forms and impacts people in different ways.’

Fairlie is taking her ballet flats and signing up for STEPtember, a month long activity challenge where she’ll do 10,000 steps a day and raise money to help kids with cerebral palsy. She’d love fellow fashionistas to join her by registering at www.steptember.org.au

Released on 30 Jul 2014