The twelve-year-old me would slap me in the face and say: “What the hell are you doing? You can’t afford fashion, who are you?“. Today I would smile to that young version of myself and answer her: “I know you like art, you just can’t see the most affordable canvas.” Twelve-year-old me would roll her eyes. I would let her go because she’s too young for some stuff – let her enjoy late childhood.
However, middle school was the time I started being passionate about art and literature. I had tons of emotions and creative ideas in my head, but drawing was not my thing at all. I was better with words, imagining dialogues and plays and dances – all written down in myriads of blank pages. My kind of art was mostly done with words, but also doodles, which with time became drawings of curly ladies with loose floral dresses. They were the protagonist of my stories, my alter egos, my best versions of myself.
Fashion for the curly flower: my identity
Two years ago I made it to college with my average skinny-apple-shaped body, big curls dominating my head, and round blue Tiffany’s glasses displaying on my face. For the first time ever, I started seeing what I was missing back home. Diversity. I was surrounded by black and afro-latina girls, whose hair and faces were similar to mine. “That’s it, I found somewhere I belong to“, I thought. However, this was not my community. I am not an African American Woman. I can’t fully relate to the African American history and events. I’m not a Latina because Spanish is not my first nor second language. Am I an Afro-Latina? I could be since Italy is a Latin-descended country and I’m half Brazilian with African roots, but… that’s a lot to say. So I found a way to express my heritage, my personality, and mind: fashion. That was the space and community where I discovered myself again, after years of extremely low self-esteem and mental health issues.
The curly flower for fashion: my presence
My first so-called photoshoot was done back in 2014, a time when my hair was transitioning and curls were popping out again from my head. From that time on, I enjoyed and learned how to appreciate my body. The body positivity movement promoted by Iskra Lawrence was one of the best ways to recognize my unique features, as well as encountering social media artists and models whose personalities empowered my presence and made me realize my value.
So back to my twelve-year-old self, I would add this: “You sure can’t afford art and you may not be the most beautiful human being on earth. But your body, which is a canvas, can tell stories, by yourself, from yourself to yourself. That’s art too.” But again, that girl would’ve rolled her eyes a second time. I’m aware now of my capabilities, flaws, and goals, and yet I have to craft them better. Fashion is therapeutic for me and helps me stay awake and present in this world.
A mish-mash of art and self-therapy
Fashion is a form of art that yes defines you, but doesn’t set strict boundaries. You can indeed go from a style to another, nothing stops you to do so. Fabrics and colors are malleable elements in their nature, so there’s nothing wrong with taking them and create a personal or different style. Fashion is a temporary artistic expression, but its outcomes have got the incredible power of being replicated. When taken seriously, fashion is also social activism. Have you ever thought of what Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and even people like Jaden Smith have for fashion? Their statements are valid and they give opportunities to be suitable, to live life at its best ease. But to do that, people in the industry must study, be aware of their surroundings, be mentally flexible, and love. They must love what they do, with faith and hope.
For the time being, I’m here establishing my presence, on a journey to love myself through my writing and art. Fashion is the field where I found a vivid soil, and we’ll see the petals that will be born from this experience.
And since I’m the curly flower I must conclude my thoughts with such phrase: fashion is a bit like poetry and you can create some sort of poetic justice through fashion.
the curly flower