Let me set the scene: Imagine belonging to a traditionally conservative family who criticised anything and everything you ever wore. That was my life, when it came to experimenting with fashion.
“Those shorts are too short!” “Your shirt shows your stomach, change it!” These constant reminders of how I needed to cover up and never wear anything too tight have been imprinted on my mind for as long as I can remember.
To a certain extent, I understand where my parents are coming from. The social pressure to have an obedient child took a toll on them, which affected the way they raised me. Growing up with strict Asian parents forced me to partake in a culture that thrived on the idea of collectivism, which hindered room for self expression. Perhaps, their constant nagging was their way of sheltering me from facing the community’s criticism – but I don’t think they realised how suffocating their actions were to me.
It’s these actions that affected my confidence. It’s these actions that affected the way in which I view and present myself. It is because of these actions that I have never been confident enough to venture out of the established ‘comfort zone,’ my parents laid out for me.
Before moving to Amsterdam, I never took to fashion. But upon arriving, I was intrigued by the amount of people with their own unique style. It is in this new environment away from my parents, that I met incredible people who motivated me to further explore my taste.
It wasn’t the easiest process. There was a point in this journey where I found myself breaking down, faced against a mirror. I saw a person who lacked confidence and self worth. I realised how trapped I felt by my parents’ expectations, and that took a great mental toll on me.
Mark this date
Last winter, I found myself going through what I considered my first bold fashion move. I pierced my ears! It was nothing major, but it was a move that both my parents and I were comfortable with. Soon after, I experimented with different hair colors. To say that my parents were disappointed to see their eldest daughter with crazy hair colors was an understatement. At that point, I felt as though I was living as another person, much bolder than I ever was. Deviating from that familiar image of myself felt so powerful.
I would explore the fashion scene by watching fashion blogs on Youtube, taking screenshots of outfits that I liked on Instagram and creating mood boards on Pinterest ( I recommend watching bestdressed). Through these activities, I was able to construct and visualize the style I was working towards.
Where I am today
I have never felt as liberated and as confident as I am today. I have not yet reached that point in my life where I feel absolutely confident in how I dress, but I would like to think that I’m motivating myself to move towards that direction. That being said, I hope that this article inspires some of you to find your confidence in exploring your own unique sense of fashion.
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