I never saw beauty in the mirror. I saw this weird awkward looking girl with a big nose, braces and a long, skinny body. But, I did have some appreciation for myself, based on my friends, I had an awesome personality. I just couldn’t figure out how to mesh it all together to feel good and like myself enough.
In high school I was very drawn to fashion and design. I was a very creative teen, always experimenting with ideas I read in fashion magazines, creating fashion designs and sketching fashion models. I wanted to create my image and style to express myself and build my feminine sex appeal. J. Crew, GAP, and Polo were brands I admired and copied. There was something about the classic looks that I felt were sophisticated and a contrast to what I saw on a daily basis in the Bronx, not just the limited variety of t-shirts and sneakers. There was style and intentional choices about accessories and color. It was different, unique, like me.
It became a conscious choice to build a new version of myself. I had assembled my template of looks from various brands, always keeping that “look” in mind when shopping. I figured I could look smart and sophisticated and that would increase my attractiveness. When I landed a job at the GAP, I was in heaven.! The access gave me an understanding of the “GAP Attitude” and I noticed I was “being upgraded or sophisticated”. My choice of words and language, feelings of myself all shifted into knowing that I am unique and I really can do anything I want and be somebody.
The store was on 5th Avenue and I would pass my favorite stores and again found myself adopting new brands to copy. I was constantly pushing myself to feel closer to what I thought those brands were selling. It was poise and confidence I was after. The big loose pants and long skirts I wore to cover up started to disappear as I pushed the envelope and embraced my physique and all I could wear. Should wear. That included mini skirts, fitted tops, shorts and form-fitting dresses and jeans. No longer trapping myself in baggy loose clothing.
Modeling and competing in pageants only further supported me. I saw myself as sexy with a sassy personality. My doubts about my physical image were still there but I was choosing to shine regardless. If anyone had made negative comments to me, I knew it was their problem not mine. “You’re so skinny” quickly followed with “You’re so fat or annoying”. No longer was I going to allow people’s judgement affect me. Soon enough I increased my confidence and learned to embrace who I was inside and out. It was finally starting to mesh.
My love for fashion, style and clothes stems from how it brought me though a place of uncertainty and doubt to a confident, secure, sophisticated woman. I’m sure there are many women who use clothing to attract attention to feel better about themselves, but I never went down that path. It was more about aspiring to create a version of myself that I knew was there. An image that resembled the woman I was in the world. That vision came with a necessary shift in my thoughts, language, and even mannerisms. I had no idea that adopting an image would call forth the inner desire I had of who I reflected in my being.
Fashion and style is about expressing your true self and showing the world who you are and how unique and beautiful it is.
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