Deaf trans artist and activist Chella Man has launched a new jewelry collection that celebrates the beauty of being deaf.
Chella Man, 22, identifies as Deaf, Trans, Jewish and Chinese. He is also an artist, activist, author, and actor. Man teamed up with the New York based genderless Asian-led street-wear brand Private Policy to turn his artwork into ear jewelry designs that highlight the beauty of being deaf. The timing of the launch also coincided with National Deaf History Month.
Man wrote and directed the campaign video. It was shot entirely underwater with members of the Black and Indigenous People of Color within the Deaf Community (BIPOC). wearing the designs and signing a poem in ASL.
The limited edition collection includes eight sculpted gold-plated ear cuffs priced between $330-$620. Fifty percent of the preorders will go to the Deaf Queer Resource Center. The jewelry works with both hearing aids and cochlear implants. They’re not just for the deaf community either. Man hopes that friends and allies will wear them “in pride and solidarity,” Dazed Beauty reports. Some of the designs have already sold out.
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Man was part of an artist residency in Italy during the design process. He was inspired by the city’s history and culture, which he incorporated into his designs. He worked for months with his team to make pieces that were easily modified and customized without changing the design or breaking the cuffs.
According to Dazed Beauty, since Man received his first hearing aid at age four, he has struggled with “the disconnect of wanting control over how he presents his body, and the aids and implants which never felt like him.” He always found himself dreaming up ways to “reclaim the machinery that had become a part” of him.
“Ever since I was a kid, I had never felt comfortable with the hardware behind my ears because it has always been designed by others and never by me,” Man says on the campaign’s website. “It never felt or looked like me. Oftentimes, until this day, working as a model, there were shoots in which stylists and photographers have tried to avoid getting my cochlear implants into images rather than accepting them as part of me and amplifying them.”
Read more: Who is the deaf activist, Chella Man?
This is just one of many endeavors for Chella Man, whose rise to fame began in 2017 when he started sharing his struggles and personal experiences with gender dysphoria on his YouTube channel. His channel now has over 200k subscribers and over 2 million views. As an influencer, he has used his status among young subscribers to actively encourage political activism against what he sees as abusive policies in government.
In September 2018, Chella Man joined IMG Models. At the time he was also actively studying virtual reality programming. The same year he was featured in an exclusive in the pages of Teen Vogue. In 2019, he joined the DC Universe show Titans as the character Jerico. Jerico is unable to speak and communicates by sign language. In 2019, the brand Opening Ceremony also launched his clothing line.
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As if that wasn’t enough, Man is a sought after speaker. His subject material deals with art, disability, queerness, race, and healing. And his first book is coming out June 1, 2021, titled Continuum.