Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I am a serious student, an athlete, an artist, and a feminist. I love learning. I memorize Shakespearian sonnets for fun, and spend my leisure time engrossed in Tolstoy or Garcia Márquez. From June to August, I am a volunteer counselor at my childhood summer camp. This is who I am. But because I am female and interested in fashion, most people (particularly those within the academic community) assume that I am somehow less scholarly than one who doesn’t express herself through clothing. I battle typecasting every day. Because I follow a seemingly superficial industry, I am often dismissed as shallow. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. I love design because it is a captivating subset of the art world. If my critics considered it, they might realize that the fashion industry is a complex, multi-billion dollar business that balances art, sociology, international trade, and human rights issues. But the transition from unawareness to understanding requires a willingness to see past the exterior. Stereotypes are born of ignorance. Those who fail to look beyond my vintage skirts and high heels make uninformed judgments and are in peril of fulfilling their own behavioral prophesies for underestimation. Succumbing to stereotypical thinking feeds complacency, allowing discriminators to be outwitted by those they undervalue. In other words, they may be working for me one day! It may be easy to conform, but I am so much happier when I like what I’m wearing – I see no point in compromising my individuality to assuage another’s misapprehensions. My scholarly successes are even sweeter when they defy the expectations of the doubtful. I am glad that stereotypes don’t define my existence – I find fulfillment by setting my own standards.

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Go ahead. I thrive on constructive criticism.