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Dressing for your OWN Standard

by | Dec 21, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

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How I Set the Tone for the Day

Setting the tone for the day starts with the closet.  It creates a conversation with the creative part of your brain, the pulse of your soul, and the electricity of your energy. There is an art and science to combine colors, patterns, textures, textiles, and comfort. I am looking through the rack to decide who I will be today.  How I am feeling and to align with my intentions for the day. Of course, we are striving to slay the day as if we are all on our own Beyonce. In previous roles, expressing who I am and my intentions were muted by a list of don’ts when it comes to attire. Clothing is my voice in how I represent and express who I truly am. In this society, there are not many opportunities to feel comfortable expressing who we truly are. There is a common saying that “Beauty is Pain,” but does it have to be? Why do we accept the pain and the beauty in the struggle to express ourselves, to feel comfortable within ourselves? What happens when we create a world where we can dress and not for the comfort of others? 

Portland is home.  It gave me the complexity of expressing comfort in who I truly am. Growing up how I looked was held to a high expectation.  “ You are representing us, we need to look presentable.”  I didn’t understand what it truly meant to be “presentable.” The older I got and the more I was put into different workspaces, the definition became more clear. From straightening, pulling, and slicking my hair into different styles to be presentable to wearing lackluster colors and styles, to hide my body. Imagine getting dressed for hours early in the morning and the moment you are ready to take a big step into the world are told how you look is not presentable. In other words,  I am not acceptable. The agony of finally getting into the outfit, solidifying the look, and taking that last moment in the mirror, is unbearable.

After all of that being told your ticket is not valid…you are denied the opportunity to show who are due to a rule book that doesn’t account for you.  Instead of slaying your way like Beyonce’,  you have to get into an uncomfortable outfit to appease other people. Standing out is too much for people who don’t look like you.  You stand out enough, don’t you get it? Black, redhead, woman, and tall. In my work experience to be acceptable I had to mask my entire identity, especially my attire even to be approached in a room of peers and executives.

It wasn’t until I went to college that I understood the beauty of being Black and what power it holds.

I started to change my hair to let my coils loose. I wore brighter colors to be heard. I tried different styles that may not be the norm for a woman like myself. I was exhausted from changing who I was, to be aligned with the norms of white cis men. Presentabaility stems from white supremacy. White supremacy is ingrained in our systems in many ways. It’s what is called the “norm.” The acceptable look is to give the dominant culture comfort to not feel threatened by another culture, person, gender, or creed.

A Story of How Fashion Lead Me to CTP

In the workplace, being presentable is commonly displayed in dress code or work attire. A set list of rules of do’s and don’ts to be presentable to those who may not identify as either, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled, etc. When considering employees, consider all of who they are, especially while creating a rulebook to alter their identity. At Construct the Present, we share ways to interrupt White Supremacy in the workplace. Take a deeper look into how ingrained White Supremacy is within our day to day. We interrupt the needle and thread, reminding ourselves of antidotes like giving gratitude to those who may be feeling like perfectionism is weighing on them.

I am proud of who I am and I want to show others who I truly am.

It led me to a path to find new ways to change the workplace. The journey led me to Construct the Present. I am free to be who I am, share who I am, and not have to mute who I am. Now I get the opportunity to interrupt White Supremacy through a DEI lens.

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