Let me take this time to confess something: ever since I was a pre-teen I have suffered with severe social anxiety. I have been known to have a panic attack at just the mere thought of doing any kind of activity in front of a crowd, like public speaking. I have gotten ill. I have even literally run away. I would blush severely and break out into sweat whenever I raised my hand in class or even when speaking to someone outside of my immediate circle of friends and family.
Growing up I constantly received so many negative comments about my weight, hair and overall appearance that I became more than content at being behind the scenes because that is where I was told I belonged. I developed a warped understanding of beauty and self-worth to the point that I told myself that only those that were conventionally beautiful were meant to be photographed. I wasn’t, so I didn’t need to be. So how does a person like this become a fashion blogger? With much difficulty and purpose-fueled drive. For example, whenever I go out for blog shoots I am very self aware of what I am doing mostly because half the time there are people around. I get self conscious as to what these passersby may be thinking especially when there have been times that they have stopped to watch. I’ve only managed to follow through because my blog photographers are so enthusiastic about the entire process and my body positive mission that it becomes so easy to forget about the curious looks from those around.
I honestly envy my fellow bloggers who make it seem like second nature though I know their ease comes from a similar journey of self love and confidence. I say this because I have noticed that some of the positive feedback from my posts on Instagram and Facebook are sometimes followed by self-deprecating statements like, “I wish I could…” or “If only I had your confidence…” when the truth is I don’t have it all together.
I still have insecurities. I still struggle with social anxiety. I am a work in progress.
Admiring the beautiful women I followed online via social media got me started, but then I did some follow up. I learned about brands, the inconsistency of “standardized sizing,” and started unlearning the negative lessons I was given. Once I did that the personal style experiment began. I tried on the pieces they linked in their blog posts, or recreated a look that I loved with pieces I already owned and pushed myself to wear it out of the house. Granted it does help when you have a circle of positive support, mine constantly challenges me to try new (often times scary) things on a regular basis. Yet, the most important thing was that I made myself the priority, not those around me or their perceptions of me. I celebrate what works and don’t beat myself up for what doesn’t. My fashion choices, as well as those bloggers and influencers like me, demonstrates how accepted beauty and body standards no longer hinder us from loving ourselves, participating in fashion and being seen. Sometimes it isn’t about “growing confidence” but rather taking risks and getting comfortable in one’s discomfort. After all, the more comfortable we get, the more uncomfortable society gets, and that’s quite satisfying. Especially when it encourages much needed change, be it in the fashion industry or social ideals.
In the midst of the personal struggles I had to deal with in 2016, I’ve found myself taking many giant steps away from the comfort of the sidelines. I got to connect with bloggers I admire, I made some new friends with whom I got to even collaborate with, I modeled for three brands, one of which was a campaign for custom nude bras for all women, and even got the opportunity to teach a undergraduate course of my professional field at a prestigious private university. Not bad for a girl who went through most of her life making the extra effort to be invisible. I am beyond happy to see what I have managed to experience and accomplish in one year. With a new year about to start I have no intention of stopping. I’m looking forward to no longer being a shrinking violet and hopefully inspiring others to do the same.
~Get the look~
Pleated-sleeve floral blouse | JCPenney (old, similar here, and here)
Cape Blazer | Fashion to Figure (old, similar here and here)
Virtual Stretch Cuffed Ankle Jeans (Size 16) | Avenue
Rogue Baxter Lace-up Boots | Rainbow (similar here)
Style notes: I will be dividing my New Years Eve between church services and family shenanigans at home, but this is a look is one that I put together for an “End of the Year” hang out with friends. Funny enough the floral blouse is actually one of the very first print pieces I incorporated into my wardrobe a little more than three years ago. I dressed it up with my FTF cape blazer that I got at a sample sale and added some NYE sparkle with my new ear cuffs.
What are you most looking forward to in 2017?