Thesis: The Self-Love Collection
My Self-Lovecollection is dedicated to the liberation of women from socially conditioned standards of beauty. When we are children, we are gender neutral and fearless. We define ourselves based on what we prefer and are most enthusiastic about. As we grow up, we start to form opinions based on our experiences with ourselves and others, either healthy or biased. We want to be a specific size, to have a particular face, and to behave in certain ways in order to fit in. The stages of self-identity and eagerness for group acceptance happen in a narrow window of time. As individuals, weare unable to discern how we want to look for ourselves. The voice of the culture tells us how we should dress and feel about ourselves.
Socially conditioned beauty standards for both women and men have evolved throughout history, but society’s constant aim of defining the ideal woman has been dominant. Extreme body modifications such as plastic surgery and injections are a modern trend. These beauty constructs have made many women feel uncomfortable with themselves in terms of self-image and their relationship to food. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), many women and men struggle with socially and psychologically induced eating disorders. I myself suffered from an eating disorder.
For me, it started in high school when I realized that most of my friends wanted to be skinny. One of my classmates lost 20 pounds in less than two months. This shocked me and also made me wonder if I should do the same and pursue an undeniably thin body. So, I did. I started to diet in an unhealthy way. I ate as little as I could and skipped dinner. I worked out two hours a day. My weight dropped to 88 pounds, but I still thought I was fat and ugly. I remember those dark days of feeling hopeless with absolutely no confidence in myself. I Googled photos of plastic surgery outcomes and felt completely lost.
I struggled with this self-hatred for many years. I never felt I was good enough the way I was. After years of battling this problem, I realized that it’s unrealistic and meaningless to try to achieve society’s ideal of beauty. I am who I am naturally. I began to shift my focus toward my talents and strengths as opposed to the way I look. Interestingly, the less I focused on my appearance, the happier I became. There are thousands of people who have experienced what I experienced, struggled with what I have struggled with, and felt what I have felt. The best solution is to be self-aware. As we realize our need for self-love, we learn to accept both our strengths and weaknesses. We become authentic with ourselves and others.
With the Self-Love collection, I am starting a conversation. Self-love is two simple words, but in practice, it is much more difficult. Self-love is the inner work of our lives - to love and value ourselves so that we fulfill our true potential. We need a place to talk about the inner life. When this happens through fashion, all of society benefits as others hear about and see the importance of truly accepting one’s self. The advocacy of self-love results in healthier people and society as a whole.
I designed the Self-Love collection to help women love their bodies and build a healthier inner dialogue. I created fabric prints using the silhouette of women’s bodies because when I think of self-love, the first thing that comes to my mind is to love my own body. We need to see the beauty of our own bodies and to treat them right. This is the first step to start our self-love journey. People use all kinds of measurements and numbers to define the body. When it comes to self-love, those measurements mean nothing. It is very difficult to get rid of them, though. In my designs, the ribbons represent measuring tapes. These go in and out of the clothing/body, indicating that measurements and restrictions are part of our lives, but they do not define us. The garments feature a coming together of dresses and shirts, coexistent elements representing gender fluidity. Through this combination, the wearer decides for herself how she wants to feel and act while inhabiting variations of traditional clothing. By placing shirts at the bottom of the garments, I am expressing a new aesthetic and a new language of gender. I chose the sheer fabric as this reveals the true body, true self, and true love. The different shades of nude colors are inclusive of all races and skin tones, as we all need self-love.
Self-love begins with an acceptance of one’s own body. This happens first in our minds, and we are then free to love ourselves through fashion and in all other areas of life. The love for the body is the beginning of true self-love. Let the conversation begin.