Let me preface this post with a little story about yours truly at age twelve: On the school bus, after school, I was sitting in the very front, as any good nerd does, reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with my good friend C.J. It was our usual routine; we'd take turns reading each other a paragraph at a time, doing our own renditions of accents and butchering all the pronunciations. The scene we were reading on this particular day featured a couple of sentences on Hogwarts' resident pyromaniac, Seamus Finnigan, and his missing eyebrows which he had burnt off in an potion's accident. After, reading the segment, I laughed: "Could you imagine only having half an eyebrow? That would be so silly." Without missing a beat, C.J. turned to me and very earnestly, without any malice said, "But, Kiani, you do have half an eyebrow".
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Here is another attempt at incorporating a little more color into my wardrobe. Black and white is safe. Achromatic palettes are easy. There is absolutely no thought process behind it and I'm finding that I'm becoming bored with the simplicity. That isn't to say that this outfit takes any risks, I'm still wearing a lot of white--but you've got to give me props for at least making an earnest attempt to buy something in a color. Mustard yellow is such a solid accent, both a little feminine and masculine (I guess that's why yellow is considered "gender neutral"), and I'm loving that I can incorporate this coat into more 70s inspired outfits as I continue to dive headfirst into this trend with reckless abandon. This particular coat is from Zara, scored at their semi-annual end of season sale. My job is actually dangerously close to the store so I'm drawn in constantly because 1) I lack self control, 2) how on earth are you supposed to resist a sale, 3) I really lack self control. In high school, when I first began reading blogs, I, like so many, read and devoured everything Tavi Gevinson wrote and I became infatuated by her whole "granny chic" thing. I bring this up to say, that that period in my life was when I first came to appreciate both the color mustard and long coats. My interpretation of "granny chic" was a lot more crazy-cat-lady-who-wears-long-over-coats-over-lace-doily-dresses and less Iris Apfel. Obviously, I still haven't quite given up on the whole granny thing, because I've had grey hair for six months. Some things just never change.
When I started wearing my hair curly, I panicked. I stood in the mirror fully dressed agonizing over my outfit, here I was making an earnest attempt to wear a color other than black and white and I looked like I'd stepped right out That 70s Show. And even worser still, I wasn't even Donna or Jackie, I was Hyde's random sister, Angie, added in the last seasons of the show and removed just as quickly. I was a gimmick. While a quick trip to literally any store or a flip through a magazine will clue you in at once that 70s are back and the aesthetic of the decade with lots of bold prints, earth tones, suedes, leathers, denim, and fringe as the muse of the moment, I felt like an absolute dork. I'd walked out of my comfort zone and straight into a insecurity, albeit a very small one. My knowledge of the 70s stems entirely from my mom who spent her childhood in the decade and who for every Halloween in recent memory has dressed up as some variation of Foxy Brown, the titular character in a series of blacksplotation films played by the marvelous Pam Grier. And while those movies and the rest in genre carved out an important place of relevance in the mainstream for Black culture, I always felt uncomfortable with the caricature. Growing up, as a kid who never spoke AAVE--a dialect that still sometimes feel foreign and forced on my tongue--in part because I grew up in West LA, in part because I went to a private school (an all black private school that did a good job of "Huxtablizing" us), I get more scared of appearing inauthentically black, than I do feeling like a poser at a show for a band I don't know. It's a bizarre feeling: to not feel in control of something as intrinsic to our identity as how one is perceived because of our skin. It's particularly maddening for me, because I take so much pride in having agency over the my appearance through the way I dress. I love my curls. They a crown I wear with an insurmountable wealth of pride. But I felt suddenly self conscious that my appearance would become a gimmick, that my hair, my stripes, my earrings would be seen as a costume. I used to make fun of my mom for dressing up in the same platforms, paisley shirt, hoops, denim bell bottoms and long shearling coat, while I pranced around in some Disney princess getup handmade by my Grandma (usually another variant of Mulan because she was badass), but my mom would always say: "I'm not dressing up, this is who I am. In getting dressed today, I'm understanding exactly what she meant. Foxy represents more than just the jive talking dialogue allowed her to speak. Her voice was a fearless representation of a black woman on screen kicking ass, being sexy, being powerful, and being fierce. As I was walking to the park to take these pictures, I felt just as badass. . . just as foxy.