About an hour after taking these pictures, I went home and had an anxiety attack.
Even in the throes of my own personal nightmare, I was able to step outside myself long enough to be amused (though mostly embarrassed) at the inconsistency of it all. How could I go from being brave enough to set up a tripod in full view of everyone to take pictures of myself in public, to being at home and being afraid of something intangible? My life exists on an axis of contradictions. In some roundabout way, my anxieties are what got me interested in fashion in the first place. I was talking last week with a friend about what influenced my style and how I came to dress the way I do and it was the first time I'd ever really dug into that idea. I remember in middle school, I used to hate going to the mall and I would point blank refuse to give any ounce of interest into style out of fear of seeming too self-interested, as though a love of oneself was the epitome of vapidness. Yet, at that very same time, I was wildly consumed with cultivating a look said "I don't give two shits about how you think I look"; I cared a great deal about looking like I didn't. That led to a lot of interesting choices in color, a lot of very obscure mixing of patterns (I was also probably rebelling against my mom who really loved to color coordinate and prepare my outfits). Then, there was the period in which I dressed as a character. Sometimes, quite literally--at the height of my anime obsession at fourteen I'd come to school dressed up as similarly as possible to my favorite character of the moment with what my friends and I dubbed "closet cosplays". Other times, I'd pick an era or something even more abstract like a mood and try to dress in the best interpretation of whatever stroke my fancy at that moment. So, there were days when I was a mediaeval serf with some long thrifted cream skirt and a peasant top and my hair tied in a scarf. Or times when I'd tried to dress up so at some point in the day someone would say I looked somber or melancholy (it involves a lot greys and layering and not combing your hair, and instead of makeup, you just pout in the lunch line). Through all of this experimentation, I was really trying to mask a fear. If I was pretending to be something else, I could learn to not focus on the something I actually was. I used to take that same thought process with me on the stage in high school drama, like some sort of watered downed method acting. I'm not Kiani, I'm Desdemona and you're just going to have to deal with my moodiness. It's only now as I'm entering adulthood--which I have arguably been in for four years at this point, although only now realizing it--that I felt like I didn't want to dress up as any someone other than myself. The problem was figuring out who that someone is. Kiani is a scardey cat, even though she tries really hard not to seem that way (she also apologizes for speaking in the third person). That is me. There aren't any amount of layers I can pile on to change that little piece of my brain, even though it certainly helps to manage it. Dressing up now has become a sort of armor. I'm still playing a character, only this time, that character is a more confident version of myself and it feels so damn good to get to know her. I think, when you get dressed, you should pick the things that make you love your body, pick things that make the sidewalk a catwalk, wear things that turn dirty orange alleyways into sets for Vogue editorials. Today, that particular thing for me is this Nasty Gal knitted turtleneck bodycon. I am obsessed with this ribbing, the detailed pattern is almost a little art deco in nature, the way it tapers off towards the sides. I'm also still marinating in the luxury of wearing long sleeves; crossing my fingers that it continues to feel like Fall for the rest of the year (and that I can bypass Winter and go straight into Spring).
Anyways, I love this outfit. I love myself. And I love you for reading this.
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Dress: Nasty Gal; Jacket: TopShop; Bag: Jump From Paper; Hat: Thrifted; Glasses: Gypsy Warrior; Shoe: TBA, Oak NYC; Buttons: Tunnel Vision, Miracle Eye, Flamingo Vintage