Many years ago I took a sewing class. The focus was alterations. I learned creative and useful methods for taking garments in, up, out, and down. I also learned most commercial patterns are designed with a B-cup bust. That means if you have a larger bra size you generally have to buy a larger shirt, even if the rest of your torso does not require it. At the time, I was thoroughly offended on behalf of all humans with a body outside industry standard specifications.
I was also glad to finally understand why I had to alter every piece of non-stretch clothing I ever bought. We are all different shapes and sizes; that’s how humans work. But it’s not very practical (or profitable) for fast fashion to try and serve all body variations in every style it produces. So we end up with a default that doesn’t fit many actual people. Instead it fits the ideal body as defined by misogyny and racism. Then specialty shops pop-up to serve the rest of us who have different hills and valleys going on.
Similarly, one way to work or function in the world is not a good fit for every person. On the surface I appear to function quite well in the modern world, but it’s just because I have developed a compendium of coping strategies. Over my lifetime I have created epic work-arounds for managing in society while my brain does it’s non-standard brain thing.
In many workplaces there have been great strides to allow people to work in the ways that function best for them, especially in the wake of Covid. Unfortunately, these benefits have been mostly available to higher-earning employees. The lowly service workers we all depend on are still stuck laboring in the manner that best suits the boss. This has remained the case despite overwhelming evidence that happy workers are the most productive. It comes down to whether we think the people working those lower-earning jobs are worthy of job satisfaction. A lot of people don’t think those humans are valuable enough to take care of and that's got to change before we will see any drastic shifts in those industries.
We also cannot focus entire on our workplaces. We have to assess all areas of contemporary life. This week I saw a news story about AI generated academic papers. Students are using these AI tools to write their essays instead of spending hours slogging through the process themselves. If educational institutions didn’t require everyone to express themselves in such a regimented and particular way, maybe people wouldn’t resort to using a robot tool to build an essay to spec. Sorry Academia, you brought this one upon yourself.
These and many other issue are ongoing, but I am not completely without hope. I am grateful to see so many playgrounds redesigned with inclusion in mind. More and more cities, counties, and schools are creating spaces where kids of all abilities can participate in one of the most basic and most important parts of childhood: playing with their peers.
Overall, our present iteration of society is not designed for all people to be successful. Only people who can cram themselves into a particular society-defined shape are gonna make it. Ultimately, that’s not good enough. And that's not the kind of world I want to live in. I want everyone to have the opportunity to live their best life no matter what their body shape is or how their brain functions. We are all required in order for the majority of us to thrive. If there are not enough of us invested in each other, humanity may not even survive.
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Jaydra is a human in-process, working to make the world a better place. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and observations about the human experience.