Community Spotlight: Whimsical wings bring wonderful touch to hearing aids
We love it when people share their hearing loss stories with us on social media. Our community often provides comfort, encouragement, inspiration and support for others in similar situations.
Recently we connected with one of our Instagram friends @whimsical.pixies who we think has a wonderful story to share.
Jill: Thank you for sharing your photos with us! Can you tell us a bit more about your work?
Pixie: I delight in making utterly unique wearable wings. I’ve been making wings in various forms for nearly two decades now and I love it, especially the custom work where I’m tailoring something special to suit exactly what someone is looking for, adding a little magic to the world. Every set is made by my own hands, worked in designs I’ve sketched myself, and tailored to the colour preferences of my customers or the whims in my own head. My Oma always said I was off with the fairies, and I think she was absolutely right. My Etsy shop is an outlet for that whimsy, and I love the opportunity to connect with people all over the world through my wing-making.
Jill: What gave you the idea of creating these hearing aid wings?
Pixie: So for a while I’d been making ear wings; little versions of my wings that hook behind your ears. They drew a lot of interest within my Etsy shop, which led to a lot of fun making for me. A friend on Etsy has a granddaughter with hearing loss, when she saw my ear wings she asked if I’d be able to make some to attach to her granddaughter’s hearing aids, and it became a bit of a collaboration between us. Miriam has very happily been my test subject each time I’ve been playing with another idea for adding some magic to hearing aids, and the feedback I get is really useful for adapting the wings to be comfortable without interfering with the functionality of her hearing aids.
Jill: How long have you been creating these hearing aid wings?
Pixie: I’ve been making them for a few years now, occasionally experimenting to test out different concepts like double wings and tube rider versions. Currently my range includes the hearing aid wings that attach to cochlear implants or hearing aids, tube rider butterflies, and little ribbon tails that can hook to either the cable of a cochlear implant or around the tubes for hearing aids. I’m also happy to make a regular ear wing to match a hearing aid wing if a customer only has hearing loss in one ear.
Jill: Are you affected by hearing loss personally?
Pixie: I don’t have hearing loss myself, though there is some hearing loss between my parents and in-laws. I think I’ll have to make my dad some dragon wings for his hearing aids this year, just for a laugh. I had a deaf friend growing up and I integrate sign language into my work with pre-verbal children too.
Jill: What kind of feedback do you get from customers and the hearing loss community?
Pixie: Because the creation process is all my own work, it becomes a personal collaboration with the customer. This is really important for me because sometimes it’s hard when you feel different to everyone around you. If I can help someone celebrate one of the facets of their unique self, something they may have been nervous or embarrassed by, that we can turn it around so they can take ownership of and love themselves, that’s incredibly gratifying. I’ve gotten teary seeing the joy they’ve brought on occasion. One recent customer said that she didn’t feel like an outsider anymore, that wearing her hearing aids became fun and that she was proud of who she was, including her hearing loss, all for wearing sparkling purple wings on her hearing aids.
I’ve also had parents very happy to have whimsical wings for their children’s hearing aids and cochlear implants as it adds some fun and magic, which helps children keep their hearing devices on. Some children have been proud to show off their hearing aids with their magic little wings at school. I love that they add more acceptance of diversity.
I hate the thought of hearing loss being something to be ashamed of, something to conceal and hide because we’re so desperate to be just like everyone else. I don’t see hearing loss as something to be ashamed of, it’s just another facet of the rich diversity of humanity. If little sparkling wings help someone to spin around a sense of shame and need to hide their hearing aids, into loving and celebrating their ability to hear thanks to this nifty hearing aid, then that’s fantastic.
I hate the thought of hearing loss being something to be ashamed of, something to conceal and hide because we’re so desperate to be just like everyone else.
Jill: What do you hope the response will be from people who don’t have hearing loss and see people wearing your designs?
Pixie: Wonder and joy, and maybe a teensy bit of jealousy 😉
I’ve seen it with many differing abilities, people who are fed up with only being pitied for their differences. So they decide to really celebrate and assert their joy in exactly who they are. It forces the people around them to question their assumptions about disabilities and see the real person within. I’d love for hearing loss to be so commonly visible that it’s accepted as just another shade of normal, maybe with a touch of magic too.
She does not have hearing loss herself, but recently purchased hearing aids for her father and grandmother, who now enjoy a more vibrant life filled with music and social events.
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