My friends have joked that in the past couple of years fashion has become my sport. I guess I’m good at doing the mental gymnastics required to figure out whether a sale is worth my cashola. Also, if I sprint, I’m almost as fast as the sweatsuit-clad, iron-pumping 80 year olds who power walk the mall. So like any great “athlete,” I’ve decided to start my own style blog (sorry to be so cliché) to share how God used fashion, of all things, in my testimony.
In middle school, 10 out of 10 people would admit that they thought I played, slept, and showered in nothing but my pink Aeropostle shirt and matching plaid bermuda shorts. I’ll admit it, I was a baller. All the cool catz wore “aero,” so of course I needed to show them that I’d also moved on from the sequined camis of Limited Too (P.S. I will never not be intimidated by 13-year-olds). At that age, the cost of your clothing determined your value. A mindset that is poisonous to individuality and a child’s self worth.
During high school, uniqueness was more important. It was hype to be different, but not too different because then you were weird. When I was a freshmeat, I was diagnosed with scoliosis, and with that came my plastic and Velcro hot pink back brace that I got to wear 23 hours a day (your jealousy is acknowledged). The first year wearing my brace, I kept it hidden under my shirts. Then summer came along and it was too hot for me to wear a tank top, a shirt, AND a plastic brace (and pants. I’m not an uncultured swine). Thankfully, the constant support and lighthearted nature of my family and friends made me feel comfortable despite looking like a turtle with a hot pink shell.
Although I was not self-conscious while wearing my brace, I did feel restricted. I couldn’t stylishly tuck the front of my shirts in or wear high waisted shorts. Sundresses hung unworn in my closet for years because they were too tight for my brace to fit underneath. While girls all around me were experimenting with their styles and the Pinterest world was booming with outfit ideas, I was disappointed to be stuck wearing a loose tee shirt and athletic shorts. #firstworldporbs
After undergoing major spine surgery, I was free of the restrictions of my brace, so I was finally able to wear whatever I wanted (like a plaid skirt and a polo) #uniforms4life Unfortunately, I was physically incapable of competing in the sports that made me feel worthy of people's value. My depression worsened and followed me into my first year of college. The days that were supposed to be the best period of my life were empty of everything but darkness. Trying to have fun was exhausting and everything I had once enjoyed was as unappealing as taking the ACT while wearing wet socks. I snoozed my alarm only to count the hours until my head would hit the pillow again. I would get up only for the promise of the social escape that night would bring.
During this time, I depended on the small gifts from God that reminded me of His goodness like unbelievably vibrant sunsets, new music for long walks, and perfectly timed phone calls from my best friend that could only have been orchaestrated by God. These small but mighty messages reminded me that life was worth living. The most fundamental gift from God during these dark days was creativity especially when it came to style. The pleasure I got from setting out my friends’ weekly outfits and my own clothes (with a theme for each day, of course) was indescribable. I see you laughing through your webcam, fool, but you know your God is the bomb.com when he uses something as simple as clothes to lift your spirits. God used my excitement for fashion to get me out of bed, dressed, and into the beautiful world He made.
These gifts gave me a glimmer of hope like the light at the end of a cold, dark cave. They also gave me a passion rooted in the physical pain of scoliosis and the mental turmoil of depression. These dark days have given me a purpose for the days ahead. I wish to design and make clothes for the thousands of girls who are constantly trapped in the discomfort of their sweaty, restricting back brace. Clothes that accommodate to the person rather than the person having to accommodate to the clothes. After all, we were created first. I wish also to be a voice for those suffering with mental illness, self harm, or suicidal thoughts. So, my first piece of fashion advice? Wear love, you never know who might need it. Besides, you’re never fully dressed without it.
The Mother Load is still teaching me how to sew, so in the meantime I’ll keep sketching, pinning, and writing. I hope you keep reading!