Dress How You Want To Be

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"Why change? Everyone has his own style. When you have found it, you should stick to it." ~ Audrey Hepburn

When you're told as a young child what to wear and what NOT to wear, it's hard to shake those fashion rules from your mind and not let it affect your style and what you wear. 

Looking back now, I see how suppressed I was fashion-wise and sometimes, I will admit, I feel like I wasted so much time listening to what others thought. But then I think of the overall journey and realize that I had to go through those moments to get to the place I am now. 

I'm 46 and I have mermaid hair, love wearing graphic tees, anything leopard print and sneakers. I love wearing pearl necklaces, bangle bracelets and hoop earrings. I love shiny things and all things sparkle. I own so many moto jackets in different colors and just love to mix lace and leather. I don't feel my age AT ALL.

And most importantly, I have learned that age, size and gender should never dictate your style and who you are.

I was reminded of that this weekend while my nieces visited. My middle niece is 14 and she's wonderfully different. She reminds me of myself. She loves wearing black and purple, loves skulls, leather, studded pieces, flannel shirts and Doc Martens. 

She is a brilliantly gifted artist who aspires to work for Disney Pixar one day. And she is currently having a hard time with being true to herself in this judgmental world.

Seems to me it's harder now than it was when I was coming up. I grew up in the 70's and 80's when there was no social media and we actually met up at 3pm after school to fight it out with our fists but even that was rare. Most times, situations were mediated and squashed quickly. You had that one bully in school but it wasn't to the extreme it is now.

Kids nowadays are ruthless with cyber bullying and memes. Cameras and video via their phones and now those fists have been replaced with guns. There isn't just one bully anymore to fear but a group of bullies -- sometimes it can feel like the whole school is against you. This is how my niece feels and I have to admit, I feel helpless and just want to take her out of school and protect her from the world.

This weekend, she was crying about Valentine's Day, saying that she refuses to wear a dress because that's not her. She said she'd rather wear jeans and a tee instead. And I was trying to console her and tell her that she can wear anything she wants, when my youngest niece Angel, who's 10, blurted out:

"Just dress how you want to be!"

Man, out the mouth of babes! We all just looked at her and I asked her to say that again. Who knew a 10-year old would change that moment into a positive one? 

It made me think how hard I fought against society and got to this place where I dress how I want to be. And my wish for all three of my nieces is for them to not wait until the age of 46 to dress how they want to be. This reminded me how important it is for me to share my journey with them and inspire them to be true to themselves. Everything I do, every step I take, is for them.

I know some people get annoyed with me or think I am some Pollyanna who is all about unicorns and rainbows. But I have to be that way for them. They have already lost their dad and no child should suffer a great loss like that. But it happens. So my life is now devoted to them.

Being different is amazing and wonderful. Why would you want to be like everyone else anyway? So I tell all my nieces this daily and I especially remind my middle niece of this, as I pull her into a tight hug. I tell her that she is brilliant, beautiful, smart and incredible. And that I am proud to be her aunt.

And when she left to go home with her sisters, she said to me:

"I love you, Auntie. Even all your over-the-top stuff! You inspire me."

And that made my heart swell. Even though sometimes we don't realize it, style and fashion are not just for you but for everyone. You can inspire someone and give them life by just dressing how you want to be.

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