On March 30, 2012, Liz Jackson woke up and “literally fell out of bed.” She was diagnosed with something called idiopathic neuropathy, an illness that affects the sensory and motor nerves of the peripheral nervous system, which carries information from the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) to the rest of the body. It causes numbness, pain and weakness, for no apparent reason. Liz suddenly needed eyeglasses and a cane, which made her painfully aware of the stigma surrounding certain assistive devices and the lack of choice facing people who require them to navigate the world.
At first, “things fell apart” for Liz, but she started picking up the pieces, and with her signature purple cane in hand, set out on a mission to destigmatize assistive devices and make fashion retail more inclusive in the process.
“J.Crew sells eyeglasses… why don’t they sell canes?”
“What if Beats by Dre had an incredible hearing aid? What if Converse made sneakers with thicker rubber for people who drag their feet?” J.Crew, Liz’s favorite retailer, sells eyeglasses, so “Why don’t they sell canes?” she wanted to know.
After writing “YesJCrewCane” letters to the fashion giant and posts about them on her blog for two years, J.Crew called Liz on May 6, 2015 with the news she had been waiting for…
About This Video
In this Women You Should Know exclusive, we have the privilege of introducing you to 33-year-old writer and disability advocate, Liz Jackson… a.k.a. The Girl With The Purple Cane. Liz began journaling her story on MyCounterpane.com, a video-based platform founded by WYSK Kate Milliken that gives patients and caregivers dealing with a chronic illness a way to chronicle their moments based on how they feel. With the goal of helping others heal, MCP’s raw and emotionally honest storytelling format gives viewers something real to relate to and something tangible with which to compare their own experiences.
After discovering Liz on her site, Kate was inspired to celebrate her mission in a more significant way. So she reached out to us about telling Liz’s story. Without hesitation, we shouted a collective, “YES!” and Kate got to work creating this inspiring video, using different snipets from moments Liz uploaded to MCP. We are so honored to be part of this collaborative effort of women holding each other up.