BY JASMIN AMBIONG,
One of the common misconceptions about us people with visual disabilities is that we do not care about how we look. That fashion is not important to us because we can not see ourselves. I am blind, and it matters how I present myself to the public. I care about fashion just like many other women out there.
In this article, I’d like to address the questions that people often ask me regarding my clothing.
Shopping and Wardrobe Management
“Do you pick your clothes and manage your wardrobe?” Yes, I do pick my clothes and manage my wardrobe. As someone who enjoys dressing up, it is important that I can do these things as independently as I can. When I go shopping with my friends or family, I usually tell them in advance what type of clothes, shoes or bags I want to buy. They then bring me to that specific section of the department store and give me different selections of what I’m looking for. The texture of the fabric, shapes, and patterns are the things I can see for myself by feeling it with my hands. Prints and colors are described by my family or friend who is with me during shopping. With these things combined, I can decide which one to buy.
Another thing that people always ask me is how I mix and match the colors of my outfits. Visualizing colors is a struggle for someone like me who has lost their sight early. I memorized different color combinations to mix and match my outfits and learn what colors best complement my skin tone. Most of the time, I choose neutral colors when I shop because it’s safe to match them with anything. I also learned some wardrobe organizational techniques to make selecting clothes easier. Hanging matching outfits together, separating clothes by their fabrics and tactile designs, separating sleepwear, casual clothes, and formal dresses are just some of the ways that I manage my wardrobe. These things help me dress up independently and be stylish even though I can’t see myself.
Fashion is personality-based, not disability-based
I want people to understand that different individuals have different views regarding fashion. Some of us enjoy spending time organizing wardrobes, shopping for clothes, choosing what to wear for the day, and reading what the new fashion trend is. Some don’t have an interest in doing these things. They don’t enjoy shopping for clothes, and they wear the first thing they see in their closet. This has little to do with blindness or disability. It’s more on the personality of the person.
My sister and I are the perfect examples of these two opposite personalities. She is fully abled, does not enjoy shopping, and tends to wear the first thing she sees in her closet. I am blind, and I am the one who constantly has to nag her to get a wardrobe update or go shopping. She also often asks me for fashion tips. It does not mean she is not fashionable or does not care about her public appearance. It just happens that it is not in her interest, and it is mine. My being blind and her being fully abled have nothing to do with our differing personalities.
Fashion is for everyone. It is not just for a specific group of people. It is how every individual chooses to present themselves to the public in a way that they feel most comfortable. It matters that designers and people in the fashion industry keep this in mind so they don’t accidentally leave people out when designing for new collections. Wearing my best dress makes me feel empowered, and it would be great if everyone gets to experience that, especially for people with physical disabilities. Design for everyone so that no one gets left out.
About the Author: Jasmin Ambiong, Partnership Development Manager APAC for Billion Strong Jasmin has a degree in Business Administration – Management Information System. She said that telework was never one of her plans. Not even to work in the disability inclusion or accessibility industry. Her dream has always been to work in the corporate world and has a successful corporate career. However, life has a better and different plan for her.