‘Crushed velvet in shattered mirrors, the crunch of glass a membrane explosion. A patchwork of red severs my limbs in the bitter vision of an empty future. Schoolgirl androgyny, all ties are cut born as a girl from birth, noone in death. Sweet as a cherry stem, mashed into a pulp you flesh out my legacy and no organs remain. Dystopian mirrors in a parellel universe where wrong equals right and the good equals evil. Turn the lock throw away the key let the code be broken and no gender remain.’
Channelling the 1995 Alexander McQueen ‘Highland Collection’ this look screams anarchist rebel. With its roots in punk heritage and a keen nod to school girl androgyny, the aesthetic vibe is indefinitely anti-disestablishatarianism. From the gender bending brogues to the bold punk meets lady mini skirt echoes of McQueen’s infamous collection is evident. Drawing inspiration from the 60’s punk rock movement the anarchist ego strives for gender fragmentation, where both masculine and feminine sexualities come into the play. The brogues are emasculated through the addition of sensual knee highs whilst the tan brogues are juxtaposed against the sugary blue oversized coat that challenges traditional proportions and length. To add a hint of glamour the faux fur burgundy stole is slung casually across one shoulder and its soft fabric nestled into the bosom of anarchy.
McQueen’s rejection of societal boundaries is an ethos that I am proud to represent and whether it is through fashion or another medium never be afraid to unveil the real you. For so long I hid who I was because I was afraid that noone could love the real me. I felt alone, surrounded by many but nevertheless drowning in a well of loneliness. I would look out from behind a wall jealous of those friendships I could never have, trapped in a cage where I was ridiculed for being different. I know now that it is ok to be different but at the time I loathed what I stood for. Sometimes in life people tell you that its all ‘in your head’ that what you have been through is a consequence of your own direct actions. Even those who I hold closest to me do not understand what I am going through, pitying smiles and wary eyes all too pleased to escape my presence. Like the bitter venom of a snake I touch all those around me and turn them into tormentors, hell bent on making my life a living hell. Part of the reason why I am so determined to make a difference is because I have been a victim for so many years that it is time to reclaim the power that is mine.
Growing up I didn’t have many friends nor did I have a stable family to support me as I transitioned from a vunerable child into a passive teenager, I had noone. I had those who called themselves my friends and yet taunted me and played games where they would destroy my property and get me into trouble with my foster mum. Sometimes they would make fun of my frizzy hair or my buck teeth or how disgusted they felt in my prescence. They took particular pleasure in making me do things that I wasn’t comfortable doing and then letting me get the blame for it. I took care of them when they needed a friend to support them, put myself forward when they hadn’t done their homework or defended them when others had said they were not real friends. I realize now that they were using me, I was nothing more than a charming toy to ploy with in order to make themselves feel better about their own insecurities. Do you know how much that hurts to be bullied because I don’t fit their social agenda, because in this age looks mean more than personality?
I started skipping class, acting out because I was too scared to be alone. When it came to p.e. my stomach would turn to pulp and my anxiety heightened as I waited for a day where my ‘supposed friends’ wouldn’t leave me to last, where noone would want to be my partner. I was ashamed that I could be so unloveable and even the institution that was meant to protect me against my tormenters turned a blind eye by saying ‘it is nothing’. I will tell you what is nothing, dreading classes where you were allowed to sit where you wanted because I much preferred a seating plan where someone could actually pretend to like me rather than point at me and stare. Nothing is being punished for physical and emotional abuse where I was made to feel worthless and the equivalent to a big fat zero. Is that nothing to you, would you be so carefree if you were going through such a difficult time at such a young age? Gangs of them would come and follow me laughing when I cried and telling me that noone could love such a ‘disgusting thing’ like me. Sometimes even the teachers would ridicule me and ignore it when their ‘beloved favourites’ called me every name under the sun.
At the time I was weak and vunerable too afraid to stand up to the bullies for fear of what they may do next. It hurt me more when it was those who were closest to me and because I had never experienced a ‘true’ teenage friendship I did not realize that this was a form of bullying. I knew that I was unique but never celebrated my difference when it was acknowledged in such a negative manner. I was oblivious to the traits that make me who I am today and the abuse continued to be thrown my way. Even the teachers did not believe in me, that I could ever abscond my limitations to achieve a better life. With age comes new responsibilities and with new responsibilities new hardships are thrown your way. I have overcome so much and even the small snippet that I have shared with you cannot ever describe the desolation that I feel even today when I look in the mirror, when I look at others who have sailed through life without a care. I am a firm believer in that karma will avenge you but it is not revenge that I want but understanding. I want to know why I was a target for vindictive bullying, why my secondary school years are better left forgotten and buried in the ashes of the past.
There are two sides to every story and I can’t help but berate myself for being so passive, for weakly attempting to eradicate injustice when I knew that there was a fire within my soul that could show the bullies what I was made of. I am not your plaything nor am I your servant to be there at your beck and call. My name is Ana De-Jesus and I am here to take back what is rightfully mine: power. The power to be free and live my life without condemnation, the power to make decisions and not be judged and the power to be me, to accept my own identity. We are all entities in a large-scale system that are biologically or anatomically constructed to be unique so why buy into mass homigeniety?
One person asked me if I had the power to turn back the clocks would I erase my past and the answer is no. It is your past that defines you and without it you are nothing. I choose to use my past as a weapon of choice, a regenerative tool that enables me to be strong once more. There is more to me than just a sob story but a narrative of courage and embracing the new world where adversity does not exist. I don’t live by a ‘peace and love’ mantra but I do challenge social injustice. It has taken me a long time to get to where I am now and I am not about to let my crown slip. All I ask is that people get to know me before they make assumptions. Why can’t we reject the assumption that good looks equals an attractive personality when it is those who are overlooked that have the most to offer. When you walk past me in the street don’t sidestep me to avoid contact, talk to me and you might be surprized to find that you actually quite like me.
I am so tired of being alone, of feeling second best and discarded into a corner when I am no longer of any use. I have feelings, humans are engineered to feel a range of emotions and sadness is one of the most intense emotions to have entered my life. I tell people I am happy because I want to deny the truth and it is the truth that is a bitter pill to swallow. The truth is I am not happy nor have I been for a very long time. I know that I need help but it is so difficult to seek it when all I have met is adversity, when I have been so independent from a young age. It seems the older you get the more complex your emotions get. As a child- before the bullying started- I was abused by stepmother yet never felt as low as I do now. I have never seen a therapist nor have I trusted others with my secrets. It took a long time for me to open to people and tell them how I felt on a daily basis. Even now it is the same, I am a locked door and it is only when the emotions become too much that i break down lost in a sea of helplessness.
Photography: Jumanna Khanom
Faux Fur Scarf: Missguided
Faux Fur Vest, Coat & Skirt: Forever 21
Knee Highs: Primark
Bag: New Look