Since I can remember, I have always viewed fashion as a form of self-expression. My mother asked me to put on my clothes for school in the mornings, and I would usually pick out some insane outfit that I absolutely adored. She would be horrified by my selection and tell me to put on something completely different. Every day, she would pick me up from school in a different outfit than what she sent me there wearing until she realized I was putting her clothes on over my clothes. I think she knew that this was going to be an ongoing trend, but I'm not sure she knew how far I would take it.
In fact, when I was in middle school, I went to some strange convention for middle school politics (that's what I referred to it as, anyway), and I really could not care less about the whole thing. I was there to see people. I didn't pay attention to anything that was going on except for the dances because I loved to get out there and show my stuff. (I won competitions. It was a big deal.) There was one particular moment, however, where I did care. They were talking about wearing uniforms in schools and many students argued that uniforms were, in fact, a good idea. I was outraged, and I decided that I would have my voice heard. So, I walked up to the podium with my folder, wearing a stretchy black skirt and something else over it with some super cute heels. I was confident but nervous as some people cheered me on. "Clothing is one of the most noticeable forms of self-expression. Each person has the right to wear what they would like how they see fit. If we limit what someone is able to wear, even at school, he or she may lose a very important voice for who they are. I believe that dress codes should not be so strictly enforced, that uniforms are limiting our freedom to self-expression, and that we should be allowed to represent who we are in a school setting. Thank you." I felt really good about myself then as if I were making progress, but I later realized my efforts were futile.
Middle school was horrible on the self-esteem, and even though I naively kept hoping the upcoming years were going to be different, high school failed me as well. While this was true, I chose to make bold statements with my clothing. I had "Weird Pants Week," consisting of pants made with shiny, colored plastic and leopard prints, and I rocked it. I also had a big, blue fake fur jacket that I would wear with my pants. I had a voice and I wanted to scream with it in every way that I could. I chose fashion every now and then. Sometimes, I felt that fashion chose me because of the lack of artistic outlets in the area where I was from that led me to focus mainly on my garb to be creative and vocal with. Unfortunately, the only plus size options I really had were Lane Bryant and department stores, but I worked with what I could and still managed to feel more like myself in my artistic fibrous creations. I cannot say this is true for other girls in the same situation, and I always had this urge to change that.
I've been larger than the average girl for most of my life. As one could imagine, I was teased for it ruthlessly, and it wasn't until I was in college that I started to accept the way that I look. Looking back at photos from high school, I think to myself, "Why did I hate my appearance so much? I was gorgeous!" This self-loathing was mainly due to comparing myself to the tiny, bone-thin-obsessed girls I went to school with and the attention they received from the opposite sex. Nevermind the fact that the college guys would beg me to call them the minute I turned 18 (I got names and numbers for years down the road - this is not a joke) and gave no thought to my peers' scrawny, frail figures. (Men like curves! Who knew?) This didn't matter to me at that time. The place where I am now is that I realize I am just as gorgeous now as I was then. Sure, a few things have changed, but I can look at myself no matter what and say, "This is who I am, and I love myself for it."
Whenever I started to value who I was, that was when I started making something of myself. I birthed a philosophy that believes that we should focus on our strengths, while minding our weaknesses, because if we see the good in ourselves and foster those things, then we can put them forth in the world to make a difference. If we stop comparing who we are to others and focus on our own positive attributes, we can be able to conquer insecurities and instead begin to help others see that in themselves. Simply put: Love yourself in order to love others. My whole outlook changed and I wanted to inspire other women to be empowered from within. I woke up one day knowing that I could do this by opening the door for self-expression in the form I knew best long ago: fashion.
This is behind the fashion part of SavannahRed. Stay tuned for the vision, but enjoy the journey.