Here at Slick Chicks we believe our ambassadors are the forefront of our success. Our ambassadors are chosen based on their impactful missions to help better society and better themselves in the process. Our ambassadors are dedicated to their communities and for that (and more) we are proud to have them as the main representatives of our brand.
Bonnie Does is a disabled creator, artist, and advocate. In her free time, Bonnie loves to sew, create, craft, and most importantly have meaningful and helpful discussions about disability. Below, Bonnie gives us insight into how she recognizes her value, deals with critics, and why representation is so important to her.
I wouldn’t consider myself a spiritual person, but I do have a morning routine usually. I make sure to give myself time to let my body adjust from laying down all night. I make sure to drink plenty of water to keep my blood pressure up, spend some quiet snuggle time with my service dog, then get ready for the day. If things become overwhelming, I try and remind myself of something I have to look forward to (usually a fun art project I’m working on). If my body is in a phase where I can’t work on anything crafty, just being able to lay in bed and look at things that get my creative brain working is a good distraction.
I would say recognizing my value has really helped me empower myself. I think women and fem presenting people are taught from a young age that being confident and secure in ourselves is vain. There is a difference between being confident and cocky. I know I’m smart. I know I can use my voice to enact change. I know I’m strong and stubborn enough to push people towards that positive change. Acknowledging those qualities in myself isn’t me being conceited, it’s me knowing myself.
Usually, the criticism I receive online is from people who seem to have a general hatred for disabled people. They think we don’t have the right to exist in society as they, an able-bodied person does. I’ll simply dismantle their arguments (which are usually full of misogyny and ableism). There is something to be said for criticism that can be constructive; being open to that and open to learning about other people’s mindsets can be helpful, as long as those mindsets are not bigoted.
I was looking for an outlet and a way to have conversations that I really wasn’t seeing anywhere else. Some of the things I talk about are things many disabled people are afraid to say out loud. Where I live, questioning how disabled folks are treated in churches is unheard of. Calling out hurtful and ableist things that are ingrained in our society is met with A LOT of pushbacks. Many able-bodied people think that basic accommodations are “special treatment” instead of leveling the playing field. I wanted to delve into why those people think the way they do, and why they seem so intent on trying to minimize disabled folks as much as they can.
I’m stubborn. Pure and simple. I have finally realized I’m allowed to want things for myself, and I’m allowed to want a better world for disabled people, and I’m going to spend my life and what little energy I have trying to make that change. When I think about all the things that should have NEVER happened to me and countless other disabled people, I get mad. I don’t want disabled people now, or in the generations to follow, to have to endure what I have. I think that is one of my biggest motivators.
Definitely complicated. I am so incredibly lucky to have spaces online where I can truly be myself and talk to people who just get “it”. The disability community online has been such a lifeline; many of us can’t get out and socialize, and so having that online community and support is so important. Social media is a double-edged sword though. While having an online presence as a disabled artist has been very supportive and freeing, there are many people who use the anonymity of the internet to say and do some really awful things. I’ve received death threats, been stalked, harassed, and of course there are the usually rude and ableist comments. It can definitely wear on you, but the good outweighs the bad, and the community I have found online has been amazing.
Your Instagram page is filled with images of your bright, vintage-inspired style. When did you first develop a love for vintage fashion?
I have always loved vintage and alternative fashion, but I became comfortable enough to finally wear what I wanted a few years ago. Setting aside the expectations of others was a big part in my falling in love with vintage fashion again. I would always see gorgeous vintage dresses and think “I wish I could wear that”. My own insecurities and the expectations placed on me to “fit in” had kept me from experiencing so much joy. Once I realized just how much I was missing out on, I had an easier time caring less about what others thought.
Representation is so important to me. Growing up I saw myself partially represented in media, but it hasn’t been until more recent years that I finally see people like me. Disabled people will never be accepted in society until we are SEEN, and media representation and representation overall plays a key role in that. I may be a disabled woman, but I do also carry a great deal of privilege. It’s important for me to make sure that I can use my voice and my privilege to make sure other people are represented as well. In order to have a truly equitable society we need to make sure everyone is represented, not just the majority.
I love the blend of accessibility and design. So many “accessible” products end up looking very medical, and definitely not very cute. Slick Chicks offers comfortable, cute, AND accessible options. Many people don’t think about the needs that disabled people might have when it comes to clothing. They can simply get dressed and not think about it. For us it’s different. If we can’t get a zipper up, or can’t access medical equipment because our clothing is in the way, that greatly effects our quality of life. The Accessible Hoodie that I have from Slick Chicks has been so helpful. I recently had a round of injections done in my head and neck. The doctor hit the metal plate in my head with the needle, and I passed out (something that I do often). I had my Accessible Hoodie on, and my husband was able to unzip and un-velcro the entire top of the jacket to help cool me down and come around faster. Had I had a regular hoodie on, he and the medical staff would’ve had to try and get my hoodie off my unconscious self. I don’t know if any of the readers have ever tried to dress a giant limp noodle, but that’s about on par with trying to dress an unconscious Bonnie. Quick and easy access and dressing/removal is so important, it helps disabled people be more safe, comfortable, and confident.