Tuesday, July 2, 2013

how the fashion industry made me pretty

i first became interested in fashion at a time when i neither had any decent clothes nor any shred of attractiveness or self-confidence. it was at a time when i hated mirrors and got bullied for looking (and dressing) like a self-conscious boy that i started buying teen vogue and looking up editorials on the internet. i think the first runway show i saw and loved was marc by marc jacobs s/s 06 and i tried to copy the wispy windblown hair. after that i started clumsily emulating little aspects of what i saw in runway shows and getting around my lack of makeup with aquarelles, vaseline and glitter.

at the time i knew i didn't have the confidence or the clothes to dress well, let alone fashionably, but there was something comforting to me about the artistry behind fashion, the fantasy behind it. in school i learned that looking at fashion magazines should make me feel depressed and uncomfortable with my inability to live up to an unattainable image, but looking at models didn't make me sad. i finally saw weird looking girls and weird looking outfits in a context where it was assumed they were beautiful, where distinctiveness and originality was precious and aesthetically pleasing.

i was poor and went to public schools in good neighbourhoods, where everyone had the same suburban prairie style. i signed up for a fashion design class and tried to wear the things i made to school, together with my slowly accumulating collection of trendy clothes and my mom's awesome hand-me-downs. my former best friend made fun of me for losing weight, mocking me for 'wanting to look like a model.' at the time i never dreamed i could look like one and i hated her for the comment. eventually i gained a reputation for being fashionable, and people thought my clothes were expensive. in highschool i worked up the courage to stop plucking my eyebrows. i stopped straightening my hair and wearing makeup. following runway shows made me value creativity over conformity. there was something empowering about being daring. my mom called me a 'pig' about clothes, saying i would wear literally anything.

i felt a little vindicated when i was offered a contract by a good agency the day of prom, but at that point i was more invested in my education and losing interest in fashion. although one or two years earlier i had been desperate to model, i didn't have the confidence to try. once i'd gained the confidence, the prospect already seemed a little less appealing. i had started reading about terry richardson and ali michael's eating disorder. i had started to think it was weird that girls several years younger than me, at the peak of adolescent insecurity, were posing in images meant to be aspirational for mature women. i was starting to look up to people with hips, self-possession and achievements. i wanted to be a scientist.

then going to university turned out to be hell. i didn't have time for dressing well. i didn't have money. i wore the same sweatpants every day over my pyjamas and i hid my face behind my hair, hoping no one i knew would recognize me. i couldn't afford a winter coat for what turned out to be the coldest winter of my life - my mom gave me one for christmas, after the temperature started rising. i dressed up once a week to go to swing dance, and the rest of the time i stayed in bed, perpetually sick and studying. i had once looked down on people who said they didn't have the time or energy to dress well and i had become one of them. i felt sorry. it had all lost its importance.

when i started putting myself back together i realized that how i dressed had a significant effect on my mood and even my productivity. i started making an effort again and enjoying it. at mcgill i was surrounded by girls who wore 400 dollar rubber boots and lululemon leggings. trying to fake wealth would have been ridiculous. instead of aspiring to be an impossible girl in an editorial, i realized i was more interested in expressing myself through my style and less interested in fashion shows and fantasy. i hadn't picked up a fashion magazine in years, because they seemed to express a lifestyle i didn't want and couldn't identify with. and while fashion bloggers had held my attention for a few years, my favourite blogs were looking more and more like magazines and i couldn't identify with them anymore either.

this is all context. i made my tumblr blog knowing i don't have the most fashionable clothes or the most beautiful photographs, because i wanted to be more realistic about how someone like me could dress and where i get my inspiration. it was a style blog, not a fashion blog. i loved fashion but i also couldn't be fashionable, and i wanted to connect with other people like me. but recently i've started to deeply resent some of what i've been seeing in the world of fashion, and i would also like to start blogging about that, because i'm disappointed and angry. following fashion helped me gain self-esteem and feel comfortable expressing my individuality, which is why i can't ignore how passionately i feel about the more negative aspects of the industry now, including the attitudes of some of its top designers.

more on that later!

No comments:

Post a Comment