Living With a Disability: An Empowering Conversation With Sandie Roberts

9th December 2021
Pour Moi Ambassador wearing lingerie

You may recognise her as the winner of our 2021 #TeamPourMoi Ambassador Scheme. Our newest Pour Moi Babe, Sandie Roberts, @the_searchforsilverlinings is not shy when it comes to letting her personality shine through. She captured our hearts with her fun, creative and empowering content. What’s more inspiring is how open and honest she is with her disability. After facing many challenges, Sandie has used her platform to support, empower and raise awareness on what needs to be done to create a more inclusive world.  

Congratulations on winning the #TeamPourMoi Ambassador Scheme. What does winning the scheme mean to you?

Sandie Roberts winning the 2021 Pour Moi Ambassador Scheme

Winning was a huge but lovely surprise, I feel like it isn’t just me that’s won but anyone who’s ever felt less than enough. If this midlife, disabled woman can create something so engaging that is helping people feel better about themselves then watch this space because I have no intention of stopping!  

What a journey I’ve been on - from the very first doubts about even being “good enough” to enter to winning. It’s been such an incredible ride and I feel like I’ve grown as a person through the whole time I’ve been on the scheme. It’s been incredibly special to have all the hard work and effort recognised but as well as that, to know that it has made a difference to people is just the most amazing feeling. 

You are an advocate for promoting body confidence and empowering people with disabilities. What has your own journey been to get to that point?

It’s taken me a long time to get comfortable and then confident with my body as a disabled woman. At first, I felt completely disconnected to this new version of myself. I mourned the loss of my old life and could do nothing but look backwards with desperate longing. As the realisation sank in that this was my situation, and it wasn’t going to go back to how it was I began to accept.  

I looked for guidance on how to act, how to be. I tried to mould myself. But it felt wrong. Empty. Something was missing. Where was that magic, the sassy me. There was no representation in the media for someone like me, a disabled woman who was full of life, cheeky, interested in fashion, sexy, sassy, and independent, experiencing midlife. There are plenty of midlife role models and now, luckily, we have some amazing disabled women, and men, coming into the spotlight, but there are still no midlife or older disabled women, and this is a hard enough stage of life to tackle regardless without the additional complications of being disabled.  

Women at my age struggle with feeling invisible, fading away, feeling insignificant, that it’s all over. Add into that a disability, especially if it’s one you’ve acquired in later life as opposed to one you’re born with, and you’re in dangerous territory. It left me feeling lonely and cast adrift with no one for support. I started to post about my own struggles to find my way back to being confident and people responded. They seemed hungry for it. That was when I knew I wanted to focus on supporting others in the same situation, so no one ever had to feel as alone as I did.  

We love that you're a part of #TeamPourMoi, what have your highlights been working with Pour Moi?

Being told I was an ambassador was such an incredible moment and, looking back, it was pivotal for me as it helped me believe in myself. The team at Pour Moi have all been so welcoming and friendly, as well as supportive and understanding of my needs as a disabled and chronically ill person. The products are such good quality, and I couldn’t wait to open my box each month and play with creating something gorgeous to post. I truly love getting creative with the items and finding new ways to communicate my messages about self-love and body confidence. 

Meeting everyone at the graduation event was really special, of course I had no idea I was about to win first prize which really was a wonderful moment that literally left me speechless. I tried to be glamorous but ended up just shaking and crying as I was in such shock! 

What can brands do to be more inclusive to people with disabilities?

Pour Moi Ambassador wearing pyjamas

To move forwards, brands and businesses need to incorporate diversity and inclusion within their marketing strategy. However, it needs to be more than a tick box exercise. This isn’t a trend or a fad, we are talking about a human right to be included. To see ourselves represented, to feel seen and recognised. There is so much misunderstanding and awkwardness around disability that stems from the lack of exposure and education. We need to normalise seeing disabled bodies in the media so that children growing up accept this as part of their everyday world. So that inclusion no longer needs to be consciously considered. What a world that would be.  

If you can’t do if for all the feel-good reasons then think about the Purple Pound, the enormous buying power of disabled people and their household, worth around £274 billion and estimated to be growing by 14% a year. When working with disabled people it’s so important to be aware of their access needs. This goes beyond access to a building or bathroom. Often fatigue or a flare up of symptoms can throw deadlines up in the air and flexibility or additional support might be needed so being aware of this at the beginning and putting support in place is crucial. A simple email offering help or asking if further support is needed in any way goes a long way.  

Getting changed in and out of outfits might be a quick thing for a non-disabled person but for me it can take an entire afternoon or even a day to shoot a reel with multiple outfit changes and requires planned recovery time afterwards. Brands need to be aware and respectful of these additional needs whilst understanding that it in no way lessens the contribution we can make. We have so much to offer, with rich and varied life experiences that translate into diverse and creative solutions. Brands shouldn’t be afraid to celebrate disabled people but make it authentic, make it more than just something that “should” be done and watch how the world opens up. 

What does body confidence mean to you?

This is such a big question. Body confidence really is about acceptance. Accepting yourself for who you are right at this very moment. Not wishing to be anything other than who you are right now. We spend so much of our lives wishing to be somewhere else in our body acceptance journey that we never really live it. A while ago I realised that I had a very disconnected view of my body and it made me so sad and I decided to try to find a way to change it and I’ve done just that. But it’s not a destination, it’s a continuous journey, you never arrive at the end. There is always more work to do and it’s not a straight line, there are good days and bad. Even for me. 

What advice would you give to others around finding body confidence?

Pour Moi Ambassador wearing loungewear

Be kind to yourself. As you would your best friend. That’s such an easy thing to say but when was the last time you looked in the mirror and looked deep into your own eyes and told yourself how beautiful you are? It makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable to even think about doing it let alone spending one minute truly gazing into their own eyes and saying how loved and worthy they are. I want you to try it, the next time you are at your mirror, and if it’s difficult then it means you need to do it more.  

Your body may not look the way you want it to. But the reasons you might want it to look different are most likely tangled up with years of conditioning, modified photos of bodies and faces slapped across social media and curated collections of images designed to make us want something that was never real in the first place. 

Curate your own life, surround yourself with people who are real, chose who you follow on social media carefully, look through a critical eye when viewing anything on the internet and don’t believe everything you see. And when you look in the mirror, look with love and say something nice, even if it doesn’t feel real. Your brain doesn’t understand if you mean it or not, but it will believe the words you say, so you better make them kind words. 

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