Before you watch Johnny’s interview with Angela Irick, here’s what you should know about Angela…
At age 14, Angela Irick was a normal teenager until a spinal cord injury from a car accident left her a quadriplegic. On a ventilator for nearly a year, her recovery was a long, arduous process with uncertain results. But her determination – even at such a young age – was stronger than any prognosis given to her by medical professionals.
“I was told I wouldn’t eat, breathe, hold my head up, much less take steps on my own ever again,” she reveals. “And I said, ‘Watch me.’”
Defying the odds, Angela eventually did do all those things, even walking with assistance. But as she grew into adulthood and became more comfortable and accepting of her condition, her focus expanded into helping others as well. Stemming from her own experience in finding the right things to wear, and recognizing a lack of femininity in favor of practicality in clothing for women in wheelchairs, Angela saw a need that wasn’t being addressed.
“I was tired of going into the department store,” she says. “I’m a quadriplegic. I can’t just go and try on an outfit in the dressing room – it’s not easy for me. And I was fed up. I was like, I’m done with these pockets, and I’m done with the low-rise [pants] where my butt’s hanging out 24/7. . . . And I said I’m sick of it and that’s why I started the fashion line.”
Calling her company, “Heels With Wheels,” Angela launched a line of clothing that was both practical and fashionable: jeans without back pockets as to not cause pressure marks, lack of double seams for the same purpose, high waists, all made with easy-to-get-on, breathable materials. She wanted other women to know that lack of mobility and femininity were not mutually exclusive.
Recently, Angela expanded her advocacy on women’s issues to a new arena: the pageant world. As an ambassador for the Ms. Wheelchair Texas committee, Angela is able to speak to groups of women she normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet and address another topic she experienced firsthand: domestic violence.
“There’s not enough awareness about domestic violence, especially for women with disabilities,” she says. “There’s a lot of shame that comes with it – with domestic violence, period – and I don’t think people really realize how much domestic violence there is with women with disabilities. We put up with a lot of crap.”
Today, whether discussing fashion or women’s health issues, Angela is determined to raise self-esteem for women with disabilities. Her determination and resolve – demonstrated by her actions – are inspiration to many.
“I don’t think that I should have limits just because I’m paralyzed,” she says. “I think that anybody should be able to wear what they want, and just because you are disabled, in a chair, whether you’re paralyzed or not, there shouldn’t be anyone [limited by fashion] or whatever [else] you do in life. No matter what.”
Download audio MP3 file (Right-click and choose “Save Target As…” or “Save File As…”)