When I was first invited to discuss my personal style, I was thinking "wow, this is cool I can talk about what I wear!" And then I thought, "oh man, I have to talk about why I wear what I wear..." This brought up many thoughts, but mainly two questions: Do I use clothes as a means of self expression; and if so, What then, am I trying to say with my clothes? I'd say it all started around the age of 14.
I attended a private high school in Montreal (we do five years here). I wore a uniform everyday and my means of self-expression were limited to adding a pin here or there or finding some crazy black shoes to wear on my feet. So this was five years dressing like everyone else! At this time, I don't think I really had any type of "fashion sense", I just knew that I couldn't wear what I wanted. In addition to feeling stifled in my clothing options, I also felt limited in cultural self-expression. I was one of about 5 black girls in my predominantly Caucasian high school. I began to feel a sense of responsibility to claim my blackness more than I ever did. I wanted to clear up misconceptions, inform others about our history and much more. Acting as a spokesperson for the different titles I either achieved (scholarship recipient) or was ascribed to (black girl) was something that brought me great pride. And this plays into why I wear what I do now.
Going into my 20's, I began to see my curves as womanly and no longer as a result of over-indulging in my childhood or teen years. I learned a term for my body, "plus size", and I felt it described me, so I adopted it to my list of titles to represent. I learned there were many rules about what plus size women should or should not wear: nothing too tight, nothing too loose, nothing that highlights the midsection and nothing that highlights the legs. My goal was to shut down all of these rules. Why hide my size, which gave me the title of "plus size" in the first place? I made a conscious effort to go against conventions.
In the same way I aimed to slam misconceptions about what I was capable of as a girl, or a black girl, or a black girl from the hood; I wanted to let my clothing show that the title "plus size" for me did not come with limitations, but an abundance of creativity. I wanted to put on a form fitting dress- without a blazer to cover my arms. I chose to pair high-waisted pants with a crop top because my midsection and hips are to be celebrated and not shadowed because someone said they aren't flattering. I know a lot of people dislike when people say things like "you're wearing that well for a big girl", but at times that is exactly what I want to hear. Because it shows that not only can I change someone's concept of plus size by not just "pulling off" a look, but by rocking the heck out of it when they thought I couldn't.
I want girls younger than me to understand that they can embrace their curves without being over-revealing. I hope women older than me see that dressing up does not mean they have to cover and contour their bodies in order to look presentable. With my head held high I can say I'm 236 pounds and I will rock leggings with a short tee or a hoody with sweats not because it's what I should be wearing, but because it's what I want to be wearing.