A lot of people have asked me over the years how I have the confidence to wear all of my creative innovations. From overtly mismatched earrings, to shoulder pads, to a skirt made of rags– I’ve experimented with basically every style imaginable–within the boundaries of modesty. And it is true– I will admit that when it comes to fashion, I am pretty fearless, and I don’t usually shy away from trying something new or unfamiliar. But I will not lie to you and tell you that this came easily to me, or that I was born this way. It took a lot of self esteem, and a lot of thick skin to finally develop the formula that I now carry with me in every facet of my life.
When I heard about Dia&Co’s campaign on body confidence, and having the bravery to finally wear those outfits you’ve only ever worn inside your head– I knew I had to contribute to this one. For those who haven’t heard of Dia&Co
, they are a plus sized personal styling company that works with you on your size and body shape, your personal style and taste, and then sends you a box of surprise fashion goodies in the mail. You have 5 days to try everything on, keep what you love, and send what ever you don’t like straight back to them, shipping free of charge! The reason why I connected so much to their campaign, is because I love hearing about companies that work hard to make women feel good about themselves. As we all know, there is so much negativity surrounding women and how they look in our wondrous modern media. We are either not skinny enough, not tall enough, not blonde enough, not white enough. I sincerely do not mean to offend anyone with my frank words, and you are all welcome to disagree with me down in the comments, but unfortunately, we still live in a world with a western monopoly, and the Tall Skinny Blonde One still prevails. Therefore, when I heard about Dia&Co’s crusade on conquering Outfit Fear, on actually wearing all those creations we would never dream to leave the house in, I immediately knew I had something to say.
If I had to give you the formula in only a few words, I would say that the way to have the confidence to wear whatever you want, is to measure your self worth not by other people’s standards, but by your own.
Let’s go about it this way: a lot of our beauty standards come from our Western globalized media, that feeds us a certain ideal of what beauty looks like. Each season, a bunch of old European men, in places like Milan and Paris, can be found hard at work constructing the beauty and fashion ideals for women all over the world. And each season, we fall over and over again into the same beauty trap– buying into what “They” tell us is fashionable, and beautiful– and discarding the clothing of last season as the beauty that once was. Even if we loved wearing last season’s clothing, because “They” have mandated that it is no longer in style, a lot of us feel pressure to discard those once loved outfits, in favor of clothing that will deem us beautiful to the public, or allow us to fit in.
Furthermore, the media also likes to feed us certain physical beauty standards over and over again. In America, we favor a waif-like figure with a very large bust and behind, long blonde hair to match our long tan legs, and for some reason, bushy eyebrows. Or was that last year? In South Korea, pale youthful skin is encouraged, with a prominent nose and double eyelids considered the best you can possibly get. And if you aren’t born like that naturally, then women are encouraged to get plastic surgery in order to reach these almost impossible beauty ideals. Leading once again to the conclusion that women are not fine, just as they are, on their own. And in Brooklyn, where I live– long flowing hair is socially mandated, either stick straight, or in gentle waves. And if you don’t have it naturally? Get extensions. [You can see that my hair is neither gently waved nor extentioned. Just saying]. My point is that somewhere, some idiot decided that the barbie doll he saw his sister play with when he was little, should be the beauty standard for all women across Planet Earth.
But what we cease to understand is that the beauty ideals we all forever strive to attain, are no more real than the fantasy dolls they are based after.
Even celebrities–our supposed creme de la creme of worldly gorgeousness– aren’t even good enough to please the world’s beauty standards. In fact, just to be considered presentable to the public, they must go to the gym until they die, be dressed by about ten different people, get heavily makeuped until you can’t tell what their original skin tone is–and then get photoshopped. Just imagine being told how much work you need on your body in order to be considered beautiful. Yah. You still wanna be Emma Watson? Yah…me too.
The reason why I am spamming your screen with all of these words is because I want you to understand that no ridiculous beauty standard should dictate how beautiful you are. We all have our own flaws and our own unique attributes which is the reason why we are all inherently beautiful in each of our own ways. But you probably need more convincing than that. Okay fine. I want you to take a look in the mirror right now. Yes, right now. Go on, I’ll still be here when you come back. Now I want you to find one physical aspect that you find beautiful about yourself. It can be your shiny black hair, your freckles, your wide crooked smile–now focus on it, and repeat this mantra: Emma Watson does not have my smile, Emma Watson does not have my hair. That beautiful thing that you just found on yourself? You are the only person in the world with that piece of beauty, and you are the only person in the world who can replicate it. Not your sister, not Emma Watson. Only you.
Now I want you to find another. Yes, you can do it. There is more than just one beautiful thing about you. Now focus on it– look at how beautiful and dainty your fingers are, what a soft sweet voice you have–what warm brown eyes. I’m beginning to sound like the Big Bad Wolf. But you get the idea; I want you to recognize that regardless of what the 21st century media has decided is beautiful in your country, you are not bound by those limits. Just because TV says “have big behind like Kim Kardashian”, does not mean that you must have one, or that it is even pretty. I personally do not find Kim’s behind attractive. No offense Kim.
I guess the overly long point I am trying to make is that you should consider yourself beautiful because of the beauty you find in yourself, not because you fit some messed up media standard. Don’t get me wrong, it feels wonderful to receive a compliment once in a while, but those compliments should only acknowledge the truth you already know within you, not invent the way you perceive yourself. And once you are able to hold yourself onto your own standards of beauty, and you don’t need anyone else to tell you whether you are beautiful or not– you eventually develop the confidence to wear whatever you feel amazing in, and not what you are supposed to wear to please the old European men in Milan.
And so I say this: OWN those socks and heels you’ve only seen on hipsters but wanted to try on your own. ROCK that polka dotted dress you’ve always wanted to try but were afraid people would think you raided your grandma’s closet. Which you probably did. WHICH IS TOTALLY FINE. Honestly? JUST CHOP OFF ALL YOUR HAIR ALREADY BECAUSE YOU KNOW YOU WILL LOOK AWESOME, EVEN THOUGH YOUR FRIEND’S MOM MIGHT CALL YOU A SATAN.
Because the secret to having confidence in whatever you wear, is to wear it because you know it makes you look beautiful. Not for any other person, or any other reason. And that is all I have to say.
Have you ever felt limited by the media’s narrow standard of beauty?
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