In Fall I No Longer Fall

Skirt: Liz Claiborne Thrift find, Sweater: Thrift find, Booties: Thrift find, Necklaces: Thrift finds, Hat: Garage sale find, Red Lipstick: MAC

Skirt: Thrift find, Blouse: Thrift find, Vest: New York and Co. Thrift find, Creepers: The Alley Chicago, Necklace: Nordstrom Rack

I know I haven’t posted in quiet a while now. For some reason my thoughts feel twisted and stuck. I can’t seem to weave together what I’m sincerely thinking. It might be the fact that I’m doing so well for once in my life. Everything in my life seems to be just where it ought to be. I got into a prestigious art school, that I’m ecstatic to start at and in terms of mental health I’ve been pretty stable. I can’t imagine back tracking at this point. My eating is regulated, maybe a slip twice a month, but it still amazes me how if I tumble and fall for a meal I get right back up for the next. The thing is I have been feeling uninspired. I haven’t been engaging in creation but I guess with making art it doesn’t always just come to you. You have to go at it, even when you think there is nothing prompting you to. That’s what is keeping me stuck though. I want some muse to strike me like lighting, and then BAM Juanna the creator revives once again. I know this is wishful thinking so I have to just get back on the boat even if it’s without a paddle.

Winter is here, not officially, but the weather outside would beg to differ. This makes me just want to stay indoors and keep to myself but I know I won’t be inspired by any of that so it’s all about acting opposite to emotion. I guess that’s why it starts with something small and uninspired to get the ball rolling. Living with a mood disorder things aren’t just going to come to me I have to fight for them. I’m at a point where I won’t dare give up. I’m actually proud of myself, which I never in a million years thought would be possible. I’m getting another clear chance at life and I’m grabbing it by the balls. So move over winter, I’m here to walk this long cold time with you.

For this photo shoot I was thinking fall fashions. I’m a sucker for oversized sweaters and long skirts. They make you feel like you could just as easily sleep in them as you could go out for brunch or a stroll through the city. It’s too cold now for hats. It’s more of beanie season now but aesthetically this hat really gave my ensemble an autumn edge.

For Claire’s outfit I also put her in a maxi skirt with flower printed scattered about, a black button up, and a faux fur vest. The vest is not only a major fashion statement but also an ideal layer for the cold weather to keep you nice and cozy. Why not kill two birds with one stone.

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

-Jimmy Dean

Monochrome World

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Dress: Thrift find, Blazer: Chicago Boutique, Hat: Yard Sale find, Chained Necklace: F21, Boots: H&M, Lipstick: MAC

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Shawl: Thrift find, Crop Top: F21, Skirt: American Apparel, Headband: Thrift find, Oxfords: Thrift find, Belt: Vintage gift, Bracelet: Self made, Gold Lipstick: MAC

When I was growing up I can’t remember anything I was more ashamed of than the color of my skin and the shape of my body. I was about 7 years old when I became aware of the fact that I had a body I was capable of feeling poorly about. I was had just started kindergarten when I realized I didn’t speak like all the other children around me and that being brown had something to do with that. I cursed the God that made me that way. I wanted to assimilate, to be something I was not because I was too naïve to understand that being different didn’t mean exile. Although, society played a superb role in making me feel that way. Then, and even now in my taste for significant others I idealize fair skin, thinness, and colored eyes. I’m ashamed to admit it but my environment conditioned me that way. As a child I wanted to be just that more than I wanted a brand new doll. So by the time I was 9 years old I was self mutilating because I “deserved” to be punished for being something I couldn’t help. A couple of years later I developed a full blown eating disorder because my body was an abomination, so I believed. At the time I was also only speaking English even to my only Spanish-speaking mother because I could no longer bear holding on to any part of my culture. It made me feel ashamed and I thought loosing touch with my culture would rid me of that feeling. I mean all the images and reinforcements around me validated these negative and absurd feelings that grew to be one of my core beliefs. I thought I was made wrong and my life’s purpose was to change that. Never was I told it was ok, even beautiful, to be just the way I was. That in reality my purpose was to come to terms with just that. It wasn’t until over a decade’s worth of self-sabotage and abuse that I realized there was a discrepancy with the system I was living under, not me.

Of coarse now I also realize it’s not just my society’s ideals that are wrong but so is the black and white way of thinking that I innately fall into. Everything is so much more complex than right and wrong, good or bad, beautiful or ugly. There are grey areas that encompass an imaginable amount of possibilities and perspectives. So after coming to terms with that I am now more capable of stopping myself from punishing me for not being whatever preconceived notion I’m not fulfilling. I do also acknowledge that it will take time for me to change the view I have about right and wrong considering they are so deeply rooted in me.

I figured I wasn’t alone in this internal struggle. I must not be the only colored woman that felt shame and fear of being myself. That’s why for this photo session I asked my model, Karina, who also happens to be a Hispanic woman, to give me an account of her experience of being a woman in our society.

The black and white thinking I’m accustomed to turning to also lead me to a monochromatic theme for our session’s ensembles. Karina represented the dark, the bad, and evil and I represented the light, the good, and pure. Both polar extremes I’m slowly learning to avoid.

American Horror Story Coven, season 3, was the inspiration for Karina’s outfit. For a while now I’ve been longing to own a black, Amish man inspired hat, and finally I scored one for only five dollars at a yard sale. It was just the perfect finishing detail on top of an all black, lace, Maxi dress with a black blazer over it for a more modest and fall weather outfit. A dab of cyber purple lipstick and some combat boots and BAM you have yourself a chic witch’s look going for you.

My outfit had lots of movement and flow going for it with a draped to the floor, long sleeved, sheer, chiffon shawl over a lace crop top. On bottom I went with a pleated, silk skirt. My outfit spoke of movement, texture, and purity. The ensemble felt light and soft over my skin. I wanted to twirl infinitely like a ballerina in a music box in it. I kept it simple with only a thin gold-chained belt, a pearl white headband, gold lipstick, and predominately white and black oxfords. I don’t seem to have too much pearl or white in my wardrobe, so I played with what I did have.

“Juanna asked me to answer what it means to be a women in our society. I had to think about it and it was a little hard to answer because I am not just a woman, but I am a woman of color and my experience in our society is much different than a Caucasian woman’s. At one point in my life I was ashamed to be a Latina. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, and I didn’t know how to speak English until I was seven, so you bet I stuck out like a sore thumb. Growing up I also found myself struggling to fit in because I could never fully identify with my peers. I always felt like I was walking along a fence with one foot emerged in American culture and the other foot emerged in my Mexican roots…I always felt lost in identifying myself because I never felt American enough or Mexican enough. I also come from a culture that thrives on Machismo. I was taught by the man in my family to be second to men, to be silent, to take care of the kitchen, and to be proper. Before I knew it I found myself not knowing who I was, what I stood for, and the worst part was that I lost my voice and confidence. It was taken away from the men in my family, the society that told me if I wasn’t fair skinned, blond, blue-eyed, and rail thin then I had no worth. It was not until I got to college that I joined a group of women of color, LUCES, were I was allowed to explore my identity. Joining LUCES was the best thing that happened to me because for the first time I was able to make sense of things. I began to form my own definition of what it means to be a woman of color. I began to feel empowered and celebrate my Latina roots, rather than feel shame. To me being a woman of color is being resilient and being strong and having a community of other women of color whom you can find support and solidarity with because you share similar experiences. Society has created a lot of ideas of what beauty should be, and most would say I don’t fit the mold…at one point in my life I became obsessed in trying to make myself into the ideal women society said I should be and I was miserable. I now realize that there is no such ideal, and even if there was I should not bind myself and let others measure my self-worth. I am a strong, beautiful, Latina who is worth so much more than the labels and stereotypes society places on me.”

-Karina Sanchez

The Last Trails of Summer

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Skirt: Akira, Top: Thrift find, Necklace: F21, Top Hat: H&M, Sunnies: Boutique in China, Wedges: Boutique in China, Watch: Boutique in China, Pink Lipstick: MAC

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Boyfriend Jeans: Urban Outfitters, Top: Old Navy, Jean Vest: Urban Outfitters, Top Hat: Thrift find, Sunnies: Urban Outfitters, Shoes: ALDO

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I know I’ve been off the grid for quiet some time now. It’s not like I’m drowning and making a post would kill me. Quiet the contrary it’s been eating me up that I haven’t posted the outfits I shot with my dear friend Claire. It’s not an excuse because I can make a post pretty short but I’ve just felt out of it. It’s like a dark cloud is hanging over my head and making my thoughts foggy and distant. I can barely sustain what is being said to me and gathering words to form thoughts seems nearly impossible. I’m thinking the only way to get past that is to write anything that I can. Be it nonsense or not. It’s becoming more and more obvious that summer is ending because with that comes my seasonal affective disorder and things start getting twisted and dark, almost like a dystopia has taken over my mind.

But enough of that, and on to the clothes, so I’ve had these photos for a while now and I really did love the outfits I came up with. Claire is this whimsy, loving, and very giving soul I randomly met on Craigslist about a year ago. We lived together for a brief time and it was such a joy. She loves cooking and would cook up a frenzy for me and friends. Claire looks like a beautiful and darling doll. I wanted to put her in something I’ve never seen her wear and that’s why I went with a neon green shirt with a flare and a loose burnt orange with black striped top. The details included some black wedges, a black top hat, and a dangling silver necklace. Summer is coming to an end but this ensemble is by all means perfect for the last bits of warm weather.

I on the other hand went with an almost completely denim outfit, think circa Britney Spears/Justin Timberlake in the late 90s. I love putting different shades of denim together. I must say the clash makes me feel so hip and cool all while being o so casual. This outfit is something my eating disorder in the past would never allow me to wear. It incorporates jeans and a shirt with horizontal stripes. Both of which my ED would tell me make me look bigger than I am and only thin people can pull off. I say suck it ED, I finally found the perfect boyfriend jeans that I feel comfortable in and stripes are just a wardrobe staple that is nonsensical to deprive myself of. I hardly ever go without wearing something on my head. Maybe its because I hardly ever wash my hair and want to cover of the oils that start to become evident after a while or maybe its because hats are my go to accessory. It never lets you down and it acts as a protective shield for me. So in this case I went with a purple top hat a lot like Claire’s. I adore me a good ole top hat. It really can add that extra pizazz an outfit lacks at times.

My mind may be failing me slightly lately but I shall not give up this fight. I’ve come too far, climbed to high, and looking back is only a reminder of what needs to be different. I won’t allow my illnesses to rob me further of my creativity and passion to learn more and be more. I basically wont settle.

“The clothes looked ordinary but after Juanna matched them they looked gorgeous and unique. I like the style she made for me. When we prepared to have the photo shoot, I felt embarrassed and didn’t know how to pose. Juanna instructed me and made me feel relaxed. So in the end the pictures looked very nice and natural. I like her photography because she can capture a beautiful moment even when you are not aware of it. Thanks sweetie. Love you.”

-Claire Liu

To the “Sluts” of the World

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Photo Credit: Anna Besmann

At yesterdays Chicago Slut Walk 2014 women, men, and transgendered individuals walked in solidarity for a cause bigger than just ending rape culture. We protested sexism, racism, rape culture, decriminalizing sex workers, better conditions for the worker and the prisoner. We marched for an end to general hatefulness. Victims of violence, including rape, and supporters united as survivors to claim back victimhood. I shouted proudly, fiercely, even wistfully because of this realization I had of the kind of world I live in.

   It was liberating, intimidating, but overall empowering and harmless to not wear a top and just cover my nipples with duct tape. I of coarse styled it and stuck pink flowers around the corners after being inspired by a flowy maxi skirt with flowers printed on it. I went for the all out flower child look. It helped ease my concern with how I looked that I went modest with the bottom half of my ensemble.

   Other Slut Walk fashion included black electrical tape over the nipples on men and women, netted pantyhose, no pants, exposed brassieres, corsets, cosplay costumes, platform shoes, men in dresses, and anti-rape culture pins and patches over clothes. Some people were so daringly exposed I couldn’t help but notice how ashamed of my body I still am. I’m trying not to be so hard on myself I mean last year I merely showed up. This year I actually was far along I could go topless. Progress? I guess I see it.

   It was really humbling to be around such a varied community gathered to protest sexism, racism, rape culture, and the overall patriarchal system that is constantly trying to oppress the minorities. I guess this is the part where I feel compelled to tell my story of abuse but the thing is they are STORIES not just a story. That and telling them isn’t going to make me feel any better. I know I’m a survivor and that makes me dangerous because I know I can get through whatever may be launched at me. That’s all I need to say now. The rest has all been processed already.

   The Slut Walk came to an end when it started pouring on us, by this point the rape culture piñata had already been slaughtered and my diaphragm was irritated from all the yelling. I can’t wait for what next year holds in store for me.

 

 

Scar Tissue

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Skirt: Nordstrom Rack, Top: Thrift find, Beaded Necklace: Thrift find, Silver Necklace: Hobby Lobby, Shawl: Thrift find, Sandals: Old Navy, Sunnies: Urban Outfitters, Scrunchy: American Appera, Lipstick: MAC

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Shorts: Urban Outfitters, Lace Tank: Thrift find, Shawl: F21, Necklace: Thrift find, Shoes: Thrift find, Fur: Vintage, Sunnies: Marcellas Boutique Denver

   My recovery process has seemingly been going very smooth. It’s like I’ve finally taken the steps to fall in love with myself once again. I’ve started speaking my mind when I usually would stay silent. I think my trauma did that to me. It slaughtered my voice and I’m barely finding it.

   My friend Hope from back home in El Paso came to visit and don’t take me wrong it was lovely seeing her and showing off this wonderful city I live in to her but a lot came up for me during her visit. First, I realized how far I’ve come since the 16 year old mess I once was. Seemed like some of my old friends are still trapped in the vicious cycle of excess, filled with substance abuse, late night puking, and the morning after’s that come with nothing but regret and shame. I no longer experience that in that aspect. Perhaps it’s my eating disorder that is still a roller coaster but right now it’s on its way up and I’m doing everything in my power to keep it on that upward flow. I’m so sick of playing the victim because I’m not. I’m a survivor. I’ve come to far. Now that death isn’t a viable option my only choice is to keep fighting and moving forward. It’s intimidating to know I have a future ahead of me. It’s frightening that I will soon be independent and steering the wheel the best way I find suiting.

   Lately, I’ve been taking up this practice of doing some asanas in the sanctuary room of our house completely naked. It sounds bizarre but the longer I actually acknowledge and thank my body for all it allows me to do the closer I am to obtaining self-love. I mean yoga is the journey to the self, through the self. On this journey I’m able to see my capacities, my strength, my ability to find the right stance to achieve balance on and off the mat. The more comfortable and used to being naked takes me back to being a newborn child, clueless as to what it means to inhabit a body, a body that establishes your place in the world. It seems silly that I’m almost 22 years old and barely coming in touch with that notion. But it’s always better than never.

   I feel myself on the right track. Like I have everything in order to proceed on to the next chapter and no matter how intense my anxieties are over flipping the page I can’t help but be elated that something brilliant is in stock for me if I don’t let myself collapse. I do fall. There are days when I just feel its equally exhausting to fight for a healthy life and to just sit around and give in to the demands of your decade long unhealthy behaviors but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is no turning back.

   Not to mention I’ve been having really positive body image days from time to time which make dressing and going out even more of a joy. Not just dressing and going out but I’ve finally been able to get intimate with complete loss of inhibitions and constraining thoughts of, “O shit my body is gross therefore this person wanting to see me bare is gross.” Pause, freeze. I can’t do this.” That didn’t run through my head. Progress right. Sorry I just feel the need to keep tabs so I don’t forget on those dark ominous days that I am going forward.

   For this photo shoot I stilled myself in a neutral color palette of beige, tan, baby pink, and black. It was an easy to throw together outfit that just came at me as I went through my piles of clothes. For some reason my styling is merely intuitive. Hardly ever do I go on to see what other designers are bringing to the table. I have good intuition when it comes to clothes and I don’t abide by the rules of what’s in and what’s not. My styling world is mine and mine only. My outfit is soft but rough around the edges. I like that you can see the battle scars on my legs. It reminds me of the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Scar Tissue. Especially that line by Anthony Keidis, “I’ll make it to the moon if I have to crawl.” I know he’s referencing his addiction to heroin but to me that encompasses the power that my eating disorder has over me. The thing is I don’t want to crawl to the moon any longer. I want that fresh start the band got with their new guitarist and shift to a more melodic sound. It was like a reset for Anthony and it resonates with me. With the birds I WON’T share a lonely view. I have so many supporters to watch it with me. This ensemble captures the extremes of my battle. Everything seeming black or a color lacking saturation. I feel the small dark components of the outfit really capture my evolution into self-transcendence. I’m not longer walking around with a black and white mentality. I’m assuming colors will create a balance.

   For Suzy’s outfit I went in the polar opposite direction. It was an abundance of loud, bright colors and textures that just screamed excess. I’ve been reading a lot of Bret Easton Ellis novels and the concept of excess has stuck. Suzy’s outfit isn’t something I normally wouldn’t wear but she insisted on adding pieces like a fur scarf and a fake tattoo sleeve. I’d say her outfit was a tad over the top but we live in a society of excess and it seemed to work for me at the time for her to just rejoice in dressing it up as much as she pleased.

   I mean as much as I want this project to be an archive of my own styling choices I always value and agree to suggestions. I have no ideal destination so the road is ours and we can use it as vastly as we find suited. It makes the creative process so much more interesting and fun when you have a collaboration of ideals. I guess that’s especially true these days when I’m on a more minimalist styling train.

   Suzy doesn’t want to write an excerpt on her experience because she feels we need to talk more about the project and she felt the photo shoots were quick. This has never posed a problem for other participants in my project but I shall respect her request and instead just share our creations.

“Soft spoken with a broken jaw
Step outside but not to brawl
Autumn’s sweet we call it fall
I’ll make it to the moon if I have to crawl and
With the birds I’ll share
This lonely view…”

-Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Remember be kind to yourself. Embrace your insecurities they are part of the beauty that makes you who you are and you are beauty, you are soul, you are love. Channel that into the world and a more fulfilling glass of water is what you’ll be sipping on”

-Juanna Gutiettez

 

 

Outside the Box

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Skirt: Burlington Coat Factory, Bandeau: Thrift find, Necklaces: Thrift finds, Earrings: Jewelry Box, Lipstick: MAC

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Skirt: F21, Bandeau: Urban Outfitters, Vest: Urban Outfitters, Flower Crown: Self-made, Sunnies: Marcella’s Boutique Denver, Lipstick: MAC

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Button-Up: Thrift find, Lace Undershorts: American Apparel, Fedora: Thrift find, Necklace: F21, Lipstick: MAC

 

   So my roommate Bear is back from her trip to Boston and I couldn’t be happier because she really is a reminder of why I’m fighting so hard for recovery. Amongst many reasons, a vital one was so we could aid each other on our recovery journey. I can’t imagine having come this far without her. She solidifies all my motives for wanting a better life. On Friday we had coffee at the Gaslight Café and lunch at the Chicago Diner and after telling her what I’ve been doing while she was gone I was reminded of all the progress I’ve made all on my own.

   It’s good to know you have support but to it’s also important to take note that it’s just support. It has been me, on my own working my way to freedom. It feels silly thinking, knowing, and acting on unleashing the very chains that I tied myself down with. But I must remind myself that I didn’t know any better as to what I was doing then. This is now. Now I know better, I’ve fallen, and have or better yet, continue to learn. I don’t have even half of my life figured out but just doing what needs to be done now is all I can do. It’s all anyone can ever do. I can no longer plan, I can only aspire and dream. Life has made a fool out of my plans but it has yet to relinquish my dreams. Those may seem foggy and even out of sight sometimes but other times they are vivid, obtainable, and some even touched by the edges. Makes me think effort and desire is what I need to become well acquainted with which seems to come easier when you have cheerleaders along the way. And blessed I am to have plenty of them.

   I haven’t quiet yet gotten the whole routine/being on a schedule sort of thing going for me yet. I guess that’s why I’m not very consistent with posting. The thing is, and it’s not an excuse, I’ve either felt writers block put on by excessive anxiety, or just haven’t been home and without a computer because being around others is just what keeps me, one: in check, and two: from retrieving into my own delusional world I so easily get caught up in.

   For this set of outfits I let the girls take the lead. Alex basically came up with her very bohemian and earthy outfit. I styled Olivia in a bandeau for two sets of ensembles and Alex wanted to jump on that bandeau wagon so I let her just play with my things. Despite not personally styling Alex, I can honestly say that what she came up with is something I would throw together. I mean it’s a total play of textures, prints, and wooden jewelry. Not to mention a fabulous balance between body conscious and exposed up top and loose, flowy, and modest on the bottom. Alex has that boho spirit that I try to get in touch with within myself. It’s not wonder she sports the look so effortlessly.

   So it turns out Olivia is a sucker for army print. Lucky for her I jumped on that trend a while ago so I used an army print with studs and tribal embroidery to throw over an orange satin bandeau. I like composing outfits by putting pieces that normally wouldn’t be put together with each other. In this case a delicate black lace skirt. It’s not super far fetched, I mean the embroidery on the vest does play down its hard edge to make it look well with the skirt. The black flower crown with studs and the small subtleties of orange all around is what tied it all together.

   With my outfit I went with simple goes chic. I LOVE chiffon, funky prints, lack of color, and not wearing pants and this oversized button up gives all of those to me. To maintain the color palette of the shirt I threw on a silver cross necklace and a grey fedora. The outfit says simple, easy, comfortable, and fun.

     “Girls of all kinds can be beautiful—from the thin, plus-sized, short, very tall, ebony to porcelain-skinned; the quirky , clumsy, shy, outgoing and all in between. It’s not easy though because many people still put beauty into a confining, narrow box…think outside of the box…pledge that you will look in the mirror and find the unique beauty in you.”

-Tyra Banks

 

It’s a Revival Baby

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Body suit: Thrift find, Disco Pants: American Apparel, Hat: H&M, Wedges: F21, Earrings: Artisan Made, Lipstick: MAC

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Jacket: Vintage, Pants: American Apparel, Bandeau: Urban Outfitters, Necklace: Old Navy, Sneakers: ALDO, Sunnies: Marcellas Boutique Denver, Lipstick: MAC

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Dress: Outdoor Vendors in Miami, Denim dress: Thrift find, Cap: Thrift find, Booties: ALDO, Chocker: Self-made, Bangles: Passage to India Miami, Lipstick: MAC

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   I’ve been stuck in mud these past couple of days trying to figure out how to keep moving forward so I haven’t been able to bring myself to write something positive and inspiring, but then I realized that what Olivia wrote and how she and Alex posed and modeled for me is an inspiration all on its own. I mean just the very fact that I’m finding women that want to put themselves out there in front of the camera in clothes they wouldn’t normally wear. I mean I do have a very quirky fashion sense that not everyone usually prances around in. That reminded me that I must carry on and continue trying to find ways to keep my spirits lifted and my foot in front of the other.

   For this shoot was thinking colors and prints galore. With prints I went with everything from polka dots, to zig-zags, to funky 80s print and with colors I wanted vibrant colors and mix and match between cool and warm colors. I always love working with black and white and incorporating a pop of color and so that’s what I did with Alex’s outfit. Each outfit could easily have been worn in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. I’m telling you I’m a sucker for vintage clothing from past generations. I will not let them rest. It’s a revival baby!!

   Alex sports a black and white polka-dotted body suit that hugs her body beautifully and flaunts her upper lady parts. I wanted something completely body con so as bottoms I went with some disco pants that hugged her body much like the leotard. The details included a Charlie Chaplin black top hat, black and white dangly earrings and shiny black wedges, which were very easy to strut in by the way. Isn’t it lovely when you can add a couple of inches still in comfort?

   Olivia’s outfit was very funky 80s girl inspired. She brought that multi-colored jacket for me to style so I went with purple riding pants and an orange bandeau and sunnies that all matched those same colors on her jacket. To keep it casual I went with platform sneakers. Her hair is so new age cool girl, which totally added an edge to the ensemble.

   I put myself in a very stretchy and brightly colored dress I bought at a boutique in Miami and paired it with a button up denim dress that I left open to make it appear as a long vest. To go in line with the red of the dress I added a shiny Mario Bros looking cap and suede red booties. Keeping in that 90s spirit I went with a black choker and some bangles.

   “Everyone has their own tips and theories on achieving a stable recovery, here’s my advice: Capture YOUR moments. What I mean by this is that it’s easy to lose ourselves in the vast sea of negative thoughts, especially those about ourselves, but we will always (regardless of frequency) have those moments of clarity of who we are or what we truly want in our lives. When these moments do occur, you capture them! Whether it be written, recorded, taken in a photo, told in a story, etc. It doesn’t matter how you capture it, so long as you have it.

   I’ll admit I don’t have these epiphany moments as often as I’d like, but I’ve learned to catch hold of them when they do come. They serve as reminders of my love for My Life and aspirations. This photo project with Juanna, I’m grateful to say, has become one of those moments. For me, this shoot started out as fashion fun and ended with a deeper reflection of my yearning to build my self-confidence and self- esteem, which I daresay have felt hazardously low. 

   It was a wonderful experience to step out of myself and into someone else’s stylistic vision. Juanna’s room was a fashion wonderland and I’ve never really tried the types of outfits and makeup she dressed me in. But I loved it! Initially it was a little strange because these clothes and makeup were practically foreign to me and I felt a tinge insecure about how I looked. But after looking at the photos of myself as well as in collaboration with the other chicks (Alex & Juanna) I was thrilled to see how great the set came out. It felt empowering to be able to see myself rock out an outfit I would never even think to try out, and I feel less anxious about taking a bold step to broaden my horizons in personal appearance and style. It’s something I feel I need to do for myself and my confidence, and this photo experience just further solidified that drive in me.

   Overall, the experiencing was liberating and soothing to my esteem. I learned that to successfully rock it on the outside you have to show love to your inner side, and self-transformation isn’t going to be comfortable and easy. But what I’ve learned is that it’s always possible and more importantly, there will always be others who empathize and support you. I try to count my blessings as best as I can, and I can honestly say this experience with Juanna was one of them :) Thank you.” 

- Olivia Wozniak