Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Jane Hash Speaks

By Frank Boles

On March 15 Jane Hash, of Classy Little Fashions spoke as part of the Clarke Library’s spring speaker series. Born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Hash jokes that while she weighs about twice as much as her cat, when the cat stretches out he is longer than she is.

As one might expect, Hash told a variety of stories about growing up. One of the more amusing she told at the reception. As a young girl of about seven she often got tired of other children asking her why she was so small. One day, without thinking much about it, she responded to the question by saying, “because I took a hot bath and shrunk.” Somewhere in America there may be a traumatized middle aged person, who avoids hot baths at all costs.

Her small stature led to a wealth of other stories she shared. While she was in college, Jane and a friend decided to go to a party, but when they arrived the back of the car wouldn’t open and allow them to get out Jane’s wheel chair. In the spirit of a great many college students, Jane shrugged and said, “I’m only going to get a drink anyway,” and her friend carried her into the gathering. Later in the evening one of the guests left in something of a huff, and they later learned the guest was quite upset about ‘that woman” giving a margarita to her baby.

As Jane grew up to become a teenager and young woman she was constantly frustrated that she could not find clothes to wear similar to that selected by her peers. It is hard to be taken seriously as an adult when one is dressed like a five year old (which Jane pointed out didn’t work anyway – clothes designed for five year olds don’t’ fit a woman “ with a J-Lo booty and non-symmetrical limbs and scoliosis.”)

As she writes, “I reacted to this frustration like anyone else would. I posted a rant on Facebook. That proved to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because it lead to the solution."
When Facebook friend Carol E. Briney saw my rant, she responded with a request to meet me and discuss this fashion challenge in person. Together, with the help of my lifelong friend Jess Wallace, we created the nonprofit organization Classy Little Fashions Foundation. Our mission is to provide age-appropriate clothing for adults with nonstandard body-types due to physical disability.”

Classy Little Fashions not only designs age appropriate clothing, it offers counseling to its participants. Hash described her own struggle with her body image, including many self-destructive behaviors. As she eventually realized, while being about two feet six inches tall adult is a very atypical, many people struggles with body image. Almost everyone would like to be a little more something; thinner, taller, shorter, stronger, have a different shaped nose or any of the other things people can obsess over. The issue is not one unique to people with Osteogenesis Imperfecta but one widely experienced – which in the end was Hash’ point; appearance and size does not determine ability; although she did admit finding well-fitted clothing does help in getting people to listen seriously to her (something we all might reflect upon for a moment when we consider another person’s ideas).