“The aspiration of a lady with a disability in the field of fashion design”
Seated at a table adjacent to the wall, a woman sketched an alluring dress design. Behind her, an array of captivating images hangs on the wall, featuring the fashion design brought to her artistic career.
She is a woman fashion illustrator Ma Nay Chi Nwae Nwae. She is also a disabled person. She participated on the Katherine Paing (Japan Tokyo Designer College) project and holds the qualifying certificate from Ms.Purua Kulshrestha who is the Head Fashion Design Department, at The Conflux Rivista.
Lately, she has been actively advancing her skills in fashion design through receiving training. Her passion for drawing has been evident since her childhood, as she persistently sketched on the cover of her school book. The dream of becoming a fashion designer was ignited when she saw a fashion show on the television.
“When I watch those shows, I dream of myself being there, thinking about the usage of specific colors and envisioning creations”, Ma Nae Chi Nwae Nwae expressed. In 2020, she joined online fashion design training. Residing in a outskirts area, she faces challenges with internet connectivity and lacks access to buy the necessary supporting materials.
Over time, Ma Nae Chi Nwae Nwae honed her fashion design skills to a high level and reached a point where she could successfully apply for a scholarship. Her parents wholeheartedly support her pursuit of this passion, contributing to her ability to achieve her dream.
“When I am drawing, people question why I draw female figures. Some criticize me, saying it’s nonsensical to sketch designs that are not easily transformed into wearable dresses,” she explained.
“Fashion illustration originates from the process of sketching, and every fashion designer begins by drafting pattern sketches before designing a suit. The draft pattern is an art form that establishes the vision for the design and fashion,” she continued.
In addition to her pursuit of fashion design, she interned with a podcast program named “Let’s Laugh and Take it Easy,” dedicated to providing entertainment for individuals with disabilities. Born in the small township of Kyone Pyaw in the Ayeyarwaddy Region, Ma Nae Chi Nwe Nwe has lived with a disability since birth. Her parents' business is farming and the plantation of betel leaves. Unfortunately, since young, Ma Nae Chi Nwe Nwe suffers from osteoporosis, a condition that results in reduced bone strength, and she has faced a risk of fractures from falling down.
“I have often experienced broken bones, and I am afraid of walking” said Nae Chi Nwae Nwae. She relies on supportive aids such as a two-wheel hand push for short-distance mobility and for longer distances, she relies on a wheelchair.
When she reached the age to start schooling, she initially received lessons at home from a teacher. Eventually, she commenced her formal education in the first grade. She continued studying until the seventh grade in her village, but her education was at risk of discontinuation, as her parents had decided against allowing her to study in another town. However, due to Ma Nae Chae Nwae Nwae's strong desire to get further education, her parents agreed to support her decision.
Her parents rent a house in the town and arrange a female friend to take care of her. As the time approached for her to enter the university, she returned to her village to prepare for the entrance exam. Her father and brother provided support, ensuring she went to school and tuition. With excellent results of 3 A for the entrance grade, she successfully gained admission to the university. Following the acceptance, she also enrolled in sewing training at a disability center.
Using a wheelchair to travel from the training center to the ward wasn't convenient, so she used the two-wheel hand push instead.
“I walked quite slowly, so I had to get an early departure from the ward. On rainy days, reaching the training center was very challenging. Nonetheless, I completed three months of training” expressed Ma Nae Chi Nwae Nwae.
Following that, she continued her university studies in her hometown, with her brother transporting her to the university with a bike. Ma Nae Chi Nwae Nwae is a woman who feels nervous in crowded spaces, even when simply sitting at a snack shop.
"As a person with a disability, I often noticed people give judgmental glances when I went outside. I responded to their look with determination in my eyes. Over time, I no longer felt scared, realizing I could confront such a situation," shared Ma Nae Chi Nwae Nwae. Even though she was born with a disability and encountered various forms of discrimination, she chose to overcome it and tried to live with the reality.
She strongly decided to continue pursuing her passion in fashion design and remains committed to exploring further learning opportunities, aspiring to become a role model for people with disabilities in the future.
"You can't persist if you let your situation bring you down. Instead, try to make your dreams a reality. Explore the necessary skills, be passionate about what you love, and find strength within yourself," she conveyed this message to other disabled women.