‘ The troops assemble, line by line, crossing the fold into anonymity,Dressed in drab colours they remain nameless, a number destined to be forgotten,Emotionless they raise the flags in patriotic regard, chained to a cause they do not support, Like puppets every move is controlled, mannequins of an Totalitarian regime, The capitalists march forward banning all colour, raising their grimy finger towards the offender,Swathed in orange, purple and green the human is awash with forbidden colours,The troops charge forward guns a’blazing to erase one mans bravery,Resolve weakens and the troops tremble, the offenders aura begins to intoxicate,Suddenly they are men with names again, no longer a number for public inspection,They run towards colours like young men with vigor, the strange man smiles,My work here is done, the voices have spoken, the people at last can learn to live again,But remember young men, you are ‘what you wear’.
I remember a time when what I wore was controlled by others and I was defined by my clothes. I was dressed in hand me downs and garish garments but I was never ungrateful, because although these clothes were not who I was, they allowed me to forge a new identity outside of their pre-conceived childhood ‘Ana’. I began life as a puppet, I did not choose my clothes nor did my clothes choose me, I was a tabula rasa waiting to be filled. My confidence was knocked by childhood abuse and the bullies throughout my teenage years made me deliberately wear ‘unassuming’ clothing so that I could blend into the background and not give them another reason to taunt me. But one day the trigger was pulled and I was pulled into a world of wonder, where the clothing were begging to be worn and I found my true calling at last. I put my pen and diary entries aside as I slid into the fashion world, at the age of sixteen legally working and able to construct my own identity. The phrase ‘You are what you wear’ kept running through my head as I pulled clothes after clothes off the racks, who did I want to be? Was I feminine, masculine or in between. I felt dizzied but enthralled, pulling aside outfit combos that were designed to make me stand out at last. Because I told myself that I was no longer a wilting wallflower anymore but a warrior who had earnt her stripes and deserved a seat in the spotlight.
I remember that first day, I waltzed in with real Ugg’s, my first pair of skinny jeans and a mohair jumper and I felt like a million dollars. The 2000’s equivalent of today’s fascination with the 70’s, I was the talk of the class and for the first time I felt like I belonged, I felt popular. The popularity fizzled pretty quickly when the bullies got bored with my new found style but for once I felt like it didn’t matter. That no matter how many times they called me names I could seek solace in shopping hauls and so I did. For every pinch and every bad name was a promise of a new jacket, ring and lipstick too. I learnt to fight back with confidence and defend my corner like a stallion protecting his herd. They never got bored of making me feel bad about myself but for every self-pity thought was a chance to dress up and hold my head up high, indifferent to their taunts. I built an un-penetrable wall around myself and began forging my own identity, where I was what I wore. I wore dresses to feel feminine when they would tease me for looking like a boy and wore gender-fluid/androgynous silhouettes when I felt like rebelling. At first finding my personal style was a difficult task, unsure whether wearing skirts masked who I was and wearing trousers pointed to my supposedly ‘mannish’ appearance. I realized it didn’t matter because I could play at being characters that were an extension of my own identity. Because that is what fashion is about, taking on exciting roles to help us escape our realities and for me it was a form of escapism.
So is ‘You Are What You Wear’ a valid statement? Maybe. I am a Primadonna starlet one day and the next I am a freaking goddess but whatever I choose to wear it defines who I am in the moment and not who I am indefinitely. I soon made the bullies and everyone else around me realize that fashion and identity are not fixed but fluid. One of the bullies actually approached me not too long ago and told me how bad she felt that she had made my life a living hell but told me in a way she was glad because it taught her to find her own identity. I forgave her because she is completely right, we all make mistakes and sometimes the identities we take on alongside our clothing choices can make a dangerous combination. My point being? Learn to assume identities that are ‘positive’ and not negative and if ‘Goth’ is your ‘thing’ then don’t wear a gown to please the crowd. My fashion used to be about pleasing the crowd and during the early years of my fashion Renaissance I would slavishly follow trends to be ‘popular’ and ‘cool’, it was only during university that I found my true self. There was no homogeneity or a need to be seen as cool and the microcosm of different fashion cultures opened my eyes to an alternative universe.
At the same time I was discovering the world of blogging and a key blogger that taught me to accept my my personal style was Leandra Medine, blogger extraordinaire and critical thinker who like me was unafraid to be controversial and deliver blogging topics that were fresh, unapologetically profound and above all unique. Medine Aka Man Repeller is eccentric, lovable and satirical and these three qualities reflect on her own personal style. Medine defies traditional fashion discourse and wears whatever the hell she wants because she is what she wears and that is ‘fearless’. Medine is fearless because it sets her apart from the crowd and I am fearless because I have everything to play for and like blogging fashion is my only salvation. So who am I? Do I define my clothing choices or does my clothing define mine? Like Medine I will leave that open to interpretation and let you decide.
*Disclosure Please note this is not a sponsored post but a post that declares entry into Bloglovin and H&M’s ‘Breakthrough Blogger of The Year’. Should I be chosen I will be given the opportunity of a lifetime including a trip to New York, a one on one mentoring session with the Goddess Medine herself, a styling session courtesy of H&M to wear to the 2016 Bloglovin Awards, nomination for ‘Breakthrough Fashion Blogger of The Year’ and if I win that a $500 H&M giftcard. Please, please share, tweet and comment as much as possible as this would be a dream come true for me and change my life forever.