Chronic Pain Icons: How Selma Blair and Her Cool Canes Support Me Too

by Janet Jay
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How Selma Blair and Her Cool Canes Support Me Too

Let’s talk about representation,  something that has always seemed like it… wasn’t for me.  I’m a white, upper-middle-class kid from the suburbs, and none of my issues are immediately visible. I have an assortment of mental health problems and ADHD and you can’t see that either (well, except for all the fidgeting and doodling). My physical disabilities– fibromyalgia, migraines, a fucked up spine, a sprinkling of CPRS– are usually invisible, except when the pain forces me to use a cane or a wheelchair.

While I celebrate the idea of people wanting to see themselves represented in the world around them, to be able to get Share-a-Smile Becky’s wheelchair inside the damn Barbie Dream House, it’s just never felt like it applied to me. Representation for my invisible pain would be, um, an action figure lying in the corner of a music venue, using her purse for a pillow, trying to last to the end of a set. That’s not a fun playscape. Not a lot of smiles to share there.

Representation for my invisible pain would be, um, an action figure lying in the corner of a music venue, using her purse for a pillow, trying to last to the end of a set. That’s not a fun playscape. Not a lot of smiles to share there.

I don’t keep up with fashion and celeb culture and red carpet anything. I don’t have cable television and I literally can’t even tell you the last award show or red carpet I watched. It’s just not a part of my life. But when i saw a picture of Selma Blair on the red carpet of a 2019 Oscars party wearing this absolutely stunning, silky, floaty, flowy gown and a badass cane, it absolutely blew me away.  

Blair posted, “When my life flashes before my eyes, I want this portrait by @markseliger to be front and center.”

Staying Sexy: Cool Cane Edition

Selma Blair stands in 3/4 profile wearing a black one-piece bathing suit and holding a black cane with a tan handle

The cane didn’t distract from the outfit: the cane fucking MADE the outfit. She rocked it head to toe– and as somebody who really struggles with staying sexy and staying myself past whatever mobility aids I may have it was so inspirational.

In my experience mobility aids desexualize you. I can walk around as a moderately attractive person and see people check me out or flirt with me… but put that butt in a wheelchair and any potential interest just evaporates. Which is one reason I’m truly thrilled to see her embracing the cane as an accessory that can be sexy. (Or not, as you choose, just like everything else.) As Blair said, canes should “fit right and look cool… It can still be chic. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice style.”

Getting Personalized Support

Blair ended up walking the red carpet at the 2019 Oscars with a badass patent-leather cane, monogrammed and featuring a pink diamond. “I have met so many people on Instagram who have said that they were always ashamed of their cane,” said Blair. “You want to still be part of the living, not a shuffling person people get out of the way for because they’re queasy. A cane, I think, can be a great fashion accessory.”

There are a ton of cool canes on the market (someday soon I’ll have a “cool canes” post to link to here!) But there’s a lot of ugly, cheap crap too. It takes people like Blair being loud and proud about their use of and need for awesome canes to help convince businesses that there’s a market for them. Not all of us have designer friends who will monogram our canes for us! But we still want to look awesome going out on the town.

Limping towards acceptance

So thanks, Selma, and keep on kicking ass. We need more examples of head-to-toe outfits where a cane is a plus rather than a minus. She didn’t plan to be here, like all of us, but she has tackled her challenges with grace and drive. By being open about her diagnosis and struggle, she has done an incredible service to those of us with invisible disabilities.

Sometimes the best support is seeing the details of someone else’s fight. Cane or not, we all need someone to lean on. Blair’s story may help prop you up during a bad time! I’ll stop using cane puns, but in all seriousness: Blair’s story is deeply inspiring, and I am truly grateful that she has chosen to publicly share such a personal journey. I’ll close with a quote that I find really inspiring:

In researching this post, I discovered that Blair has filmed a documentary about her struggles, titled “Introducing Selma Blair.” I can’t wait to see it! Here’s more info about it; Blair also recently posted on Instagram to introduce the project.

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