Michele Kaplan wants us to mind the gap. The space between a subway car and the platform might not seem like a big deal if you’re bipedal, but it can pose a safety hazard if you’re using a wheelchair, cane or walker. Michele got fed up on July 10 when she tried to board a train in a supposedly accessible station and her powerchair got stuck in the gap. She was forced to rely on “two burly-looking passengers” to get her chair out of the doors and onto the train. When she got home, she decided to fight back. Michele started up a Tumblr and set up a petition, and she’s been putting the word out ever since.
A very emotional PUSH GIRLS this week on “In the Fast Lane,” as we saw Tiphany talking about her past and returning to the site of her car accident 10 years after the fact. She might have been declared dead on the scene, but she rolled confidently along the side of the highway with her family to confront the reality that her accident affected more people than just her: “My accident didn’t just happen to me. It affected a lot of people.”
Once you start looking, you see Push Girls everywhere. That’s what we learned when we asked fans on the PUSH GIRLS Facebook page, “Who’s your Push Girl?” After 215 nominees (and counting), we can honestly say that push girls are young and old, athletes and artists, students and teachers, and everything in between. There’s Brittney Kitchens, whose awesome tattoo sums up her attitude: “I don’t let my disability get in the way of my happiness… and like my tattoo says, ‘Life rolls on.’ “
This week’s Chelsie-centric episode was an intimate and revealing look into the difficult adjustment period that comes with newly acquired disability. Chelsie is lucky to have four fabulous mentors, but she struggles with the changes going on in her life and in her body, and it was really refreshing to get an honest look at that. She was performing in front of her family for the first time, which was understandably nerve-wracking, and things didn’t go quite according to plan, but she held her head up high and got back out on the dance floor, which is hard for any of us to do when we feel like we’ve failed.
We’ve already seen wheelchair dance on PUSH GIRLS (and we’ll be seeing more tonight), but some of you may be experiencing this art form for the first time on the show. If you want to see even more, you’re in luck, because there’s a thriving worldwide wheelchair dance community and chances are you can find a performance near you if you live in an urban area. Attending a live show can be quite a thrill, but since I can’t drag you all to a performance, we’ll do our best with the two-dimensional version.
This week on PUSH GIRLS, we got a very intimate look at the different ways in which people react to disability. There was a stark contrast not just between Chelsie, who’s still adjusting to her paralysis, but between Mia, Auti, Tiphany, and Angela, and it was fascinating to see the women getting “Fired Up,” in an episode that got very emotional. It’s hard to predict your reaction to a major life change, but I liked the takeaway that Mia left us with: You can start again at any age.
Girls, are you ready to change the world? No, really. You can — and you’ll hardly be alone. Just take a look at the Hey Girl, What Have You Done Lately? Tumblr for inspiration. There’s Wonder Woman, that Amazonian warrior princess who always gets the bad guys — and can hold her own in the über-male world of superheroes. (Not to mention Lynda Carter, the strong and beautiful actress who played her.) And let’s not forget Julia Child, who singlehandedly elevated the level of American cuisine while inventing the concept of celebrity-chef TV star.
Famous people aren’t all bad. In fact, some of them, despite their shortage of time and debilitating desire to be caught on film doing weird, immoral things, actually dedicate their time to helping other people instead of themselves. The trend of celebrities getting involved in charity work seemed to spin out of control once Angelina became such a saint, and now it seems like it’s another Hollywood trend to get involved in making the world a better place. But what can we say? If they’re doing it, they’re doing it – who cares if it’s all for good press?
Lots of relationship drama on PUSH GIRLS this week, from Angela and Dustin having a serious conversation about the direction of their relationship to Mia and Tiphany going on a speed dating adventure. All the girls are at different phases, relationshipwise; I love watching Auti and Erik’s incredibly strong, loving marriage as much as I enjoy seeing Tiphany explore the relationship world because she’s still searching for what, and who, she wants.
In a busy world, it can be tough to make time to find a partner. That’s why some genius invented speed dating, and some people are really pushing the limits when it comes to creativity in that department. Goodbye gongs, hello rare culinary ingredients. This is speed dating for the 21st century.
10. Edwardian-themed Football Speed Dating
Say that ten times fast, and pick a suitable pseudonym so you can prepare to play table football with a random mate, all while living in the Golden Age (without the hideously restrictive bathing suits). Beware: Small talk is strictly banned, but at least you can work out nerves with your competitive streak.
Check out the “Hey Girl, What Have You Done Lately?” Tumblr for some awesome push girls throughout the ages, from Joan of Arc to Hillary Clinton. Each of them has done something fantastic, and wants to know what you have done lately. If you need a lesson in taking life by the horns and fighting prejudice to rise to one of the highest offices in the land, visit Shirley Chisolm, first Black woman elected to Congress. Maybe you’d like to learn more about modern activists like Kasha Nabagasera, who’s protecting LGBQT Ugandans from execution. Or maybe you just want to follow to get your daily fix of amazing ladies.
In this, the year of the War on Women, it seems important to take a look back on all the hard-won battles women have poured their blood, sweat and tears into over the past 150 years. Seeing how far we’ve come makes it hard to understand why there are so many people across the country right now working to roll back our reproductive rights, restrict our access to birth control, and allow employers to pay us less than men. It’s like they want to erase the ’70s! Let this top 10 list light a fire under your ass so you make sure that doesn’t happen this election year.
“Hope It’s Not Too Late” came with some real talk on relationships and abortion. It was also a very intimate episode for us. Auti really put herself out there with some personal scenes this week where she took us to the fertility clinic (and into the ob-gyn exam room, yikes!) to get evaluated as she and Eric start working on a baby. And she revealed that she had an abortion in her youth, shortly after her accident.
Sunaura Taylor’s work, like Chicken Truck, seen above, is striking and haunting: rows of battery hens in cages and downed calves speak to her commitment to animal welfare activism, while detailed and intimate oil portraits bring people to life on the canvas, and self-portraits depict her disability and connect it with a larger social context. She has arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that causes joint contractures, and uses a wheelchair for mobility. To paint, she uses her mouth to hold the brush, and her work has made quite a mark in the art world; she’s received a number of awards for her painting and her work has been displayed in some distinguished places.
Tonight on PUSH GIRLS we learned more about Mia’s relationship with her mother while we celebrated Angela’s 10th anniversary of survival, and there was plenty of fun too, like Chelsie’s first pair of post-wheels heels. As Auti and Tiphany pointed out when they took her on a shopping trip, your first pair of heels after a major spinal cord injury is, as our Vice President would say, a BFD, because using a chair for mobility doesn’t mean you can’t be sexy.
At 75, you’d think Ernestine Shepherd would be in retirement, perhaps volunteering with some local organizations and puttering in her garden. But you’d be wrong, because she’s actually the Guinness World Record holder for oldest female competitive bodybuilder; and she only started training at 71! Did I mention that she goes on a 10 mile run every morning before hitting the gym, and that both of these things probably occur at hours when most of us are asleep (or staying out late)? And if you think Ernestine is a fluke, check out Tao Porchon-Lynch, who happens to be the world’s oldest yogini and yoga instructor at…wait for it…93.
Japanese para-athlete Maya Nakanishi was having some trouble pulling funding together for her trip to the Paralympic games in London this summer, so she decided to get creative; she made a seminude calendar. A time-honored fundraising tradition, the nude calendar takes it to a whole new level when the subject is a visibly disabled woman who’s also an athlete. It’s like a clash of everything people think they know about bodies and disabilities, and it’s a project that definitely gets Maya Push Girl status!
‘I don’t regret having become nude. I’m very happy that I was able to show Maya Nakanishi as I am.’ (NDTV Sports)
Looking at the images from her calendar, what I’m struck by is her amazingly toned and honed body. This is an athlete’s body. It’s all power and strength and compressed energy. It’s a body that’s turned her into a record holder, but it’s also a body that she can play with, and have fun with; I love that we see her wearing several different legs, turning the prosthesis into an accessory that enriches her life, rather than a symbol of “lesser than.”
Ahoy! Pride Month 2012 is upon us (already??) and to that end, we are rolling out some notable films that feature the sometimes painful journey toward a proud, authentic existence – a journey that often involves years in the closet. In a time when “it gets better”, when coming out may feel like a redundant, strategic or long-overdue (ahem, Anderson Cooper) tactic, it’s important to remember that on the individual level, this is still a huge milestone in a queer person’s life, a brutally honest moment when each person claims a little more of his or her true self.
You like us! You really like us! “[PUSH GIRLS] is accomplishing something else: proving that it is possible to set a new standard for reality-type television.” “It’s a solid show of just the kind it’s nice to see as networks explore where they can go with reality programming.” “If you dismiss all reality TV as empty-headed trash, PUSH GIRLS should make you reconsider.”
Inspired by the new docu-series PUSH GIRLS, which features four outspoken women rollin’ large, we decided to write about ten women under 40 who push back in their own way. To help us narrow down the list (and not totally lose our minds), we kept it contemporary, which is why you won’t find Joan of Arc, Anne Frank or Rosa Parks below. Even so, it was near impossible to choose just ten young women who embody empowerment. Who else should have been on this list? Let us know in the comments section!
Tonight’s episode was called Everyone Stares. And that’s a fact. Get ready to see a whole lot of sexy on PUSH GIRLS, because the premiere episode was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to frank talk on dating and relationships for women thinking about issues like finding life partners and choosing whether to have children (btw, sponsor a lady’s uterus, why don’t you). One of the things I loved about the first episode was the unabashed exploration of sexuality for wheelchair users, since it’s such a taboo topic, something we’re not supposed to talk about; everyone assumes wheelchair users can’t or don’t have sex.
Want to know what the PUSH GIRLS think of the premiere? They’ll be tweeting throughout tonight’s two episodes, so make sure you are Twitter and
a lot of buzz because we’re finally getting a show about fierce women with disabilities that isn’t solely focused on the disability experience, but rather on women’s experiences. I’ve already seen the first episode and, trust me, it’s everything I’ve been hoping for and more, because PUSH GIRLS is ready to scare the horses when it comes to confronting women’s issues, talking about what it’s like to be a middle class woman in Los Angeles struggling with dating, employment, and fertility while navigating disability as well. In a media landscape where women’s lives rarely get a chance to enjoy center stage, it’s refreshing to see a show focusing on women and their relationships with each other and I’m jazzed for everyone who will be seeing the premiere tonight.
We’re only a couple of days away from the first two episodes of PUSH GIRLS and the ladies themselves just can’t wait. They brought their energy and “heels on wheels” from Los Angeles to New York and decided the best way to introduce themselves was to dance across this town.
We’re only a few days away from the premiere of PUSH GIRLS (Monday, June 4 at 10P, obviously) and the ladies are taking over daytime TV. Angela and Mia stopped by Ellen today to talk about the show and their own experiences with paralysis. Check it out: