Each time I take to The Tufts Daily with my words, I strive to be as vulnerable and honest as possible. I have come back to this platform for another semester seeking to continue expanding upon the message that I have previously shared in The Journey. I plan to foster the same sentiments giving you a window into my real, genuine, beautiful yet messy world.
I grew up wearing a khaki skirt and a hunter green polo shirt with white stripes on the collar. The embroidered crest logo in the top right corner decorated the apparel of my youth. Every weekday, when I would open up my closet, my hands mechanically reached in for a hanger; I already knew what I was putting on.
My relationship with clothing has been neither smooth nor linear. Being a fervently opinionated, assertive yet anxious young girl, I was constantly in pursuit of what I deemed the best apparel, settling for nothing less than what I deemed perfectly fitting, flattering, stylish and comfortable.
Wearing a uniform simultaneously gave me a sense of freedom and engulfed me. While one would assume my predetermined school attire offered an escape from decision making, in reality, it simply brought up different emotions.
At eight years old, I can remember being conscious of the length of my skirt. Each fall, I would enter the uniform store and proceed to try on innumerable skirts. An array of sizes hung off of my frame. I would roll the waist, manually doctoring the length, trying to make it as short as possible. At school, I’d walk around campus with my peers, glimpsing at my reflection in window panes. I silently chastised my juvenile body for the way it looked.
As I have matured, I have slowly begun to develop a sense of peace with clothing. Thankfully, being a college student without a uniform has given me the agency to choose what I want to wear each day, allowing me to mold my identity in a new and exciting way. Moreover, stepping out of my former environment has allowed me to see the way I present my body in a new, more clear light.
Recognizing that my story is a manifesto ridden with privilege, I wish to tell my younger self the following:
Your body is not broken. You are organically beautiful in your own light. You get to choose how you show up in the world each and every day, mind and body. You are loved for who you are on the inside.
The way society sexualizes your body is not and has never been your fault. Your feminine identity is something to celebrate rather than fear. Own your confidence from within; seeking external validation is destructive.
Be unapologetically who you are, not who you think others want you to be.
Have patience with yourself. Peace comes in waves and growth is a journey. When you celebrate your strengths and do what makes you happy, you fill your own cup.