We all know that arthritis isn’t just an old person’s disease. Or at least the people reading this blog post should know that because we have first hand knowledge that arthritis can strike at any age. Yet with all of the kids, teens and young adults who suffer from a form of arthritis or other disabling chronic illnesses, there greatly lacks ergonomic, inclusively designed products for us.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to drink from a chic looking mug like the cupboard full of Starbucks ones that I have accumulated over the years. I don’t want to have my friends over for coffee only to pour up their cup of joe into an adorable mug with the New York City skyline on it just to turn around and pour mine into some institutional looking double handled adult sippy cup. No offence to whoever made those, but I’m 26 and I like colourful and trendy kitchenware. What’s even worse is going to a coffee shop, ordering a drink, asking for a to-go cup, and then getting stared down like you’re single handedly trying to destroy the environment when you sit down in a chair to read your book in the cafe with your disposable cup. “You didn’t go anywhere!” their stares say to me. “You just wanted to add to those landfills because you’re a horrible person who doesn’t care about animals or the future of our children!” “You’re probably a climate change denier who drives a Hummer!” Okay, I’m probably getting carried away here, but that’s kind of how it feels when I have to turn down a mug for a disposable cup. I don’t want to have to tell every barista in town that I have arthritis and the beautiful yet pitifully designed handles on their expensive mugs would destroy my fingers. It’s not like you can pick up a piping hot mug with two hands and cradle it in your palm. So instead you have to single handedly destroy the environment by ordering everything in a to-go cup and putting a coffee sleeve on it. The closest I have found to a functional mug that is actually pretty looking is a hand warmer mug, but guess what? Those babies sell for approximately $60 a pop. Mama just ain’t made of money.
Don’t even get me started on eating utensils. Sometimes when I’m out for supper with my boyfriend I have to take some of my steak home for later. Is it because I can’t finish a giant steak in one sitting? God no. It’s because it is incredibly difficult to cut things up with regular forks and knives. But when I decided to look into purchasing some adaptive utensils I was mostly met, once again, with the institutional looking set that I would expect one of my grandparents to have in a nursing home. I recently read an article about a London design student, Charlotte Simmons, who is a young and hip twenty-something with RA. She was also a bit pickier about her ergonomic utensils and decided to design a stylish set for herself. They are pretty looking, but unfortunately not available for purchase yet.
If you google adaptive devices or products for people with arthritis it is mostly laughable. Sure those products probably help make life way easier for people who need them, but holy crap are they ever ugly. I may suffer from arthritis but I also suffer from good taste with a side of vanity. Maybe it’s selfish and superficial of me, but I want stylish assistive devices and I want a variety of them. People who have no problem using regular mugs, utensils, or anything of that sort, get to go out to the mall and pick through hundreds and thousands of different designs. Young people with disabilities get maybe two to pick from if they’re lucky, and they certainly can’t expect them to be modern or nice looking. It’s almost like it’s against the law to give people with disabilities some stylish tools to work with.
Inclusive design has made huge, funky strides in the last few years if it’s an office cubicle you are looking to modify, but as soon as you start looking for products to make life at home better for your aching joints, you’re sent back to the 1960’s. Or you luck out and find that really sweet product only to realize that it would break your bank to purchase it.
I feel like my illness takes enough away from me, why should it strip me of my sense of style as well? Shouldn’t it be time that the markets are overflowing with products that cater to the younger chronic illness population?
Anyone want to team up with me to create some stylish and inclusive products for young people with disabilities?
Now please prove me wrong by filling the comments with links to stylish, half-affordable inclusively designed products. Go!