History Mystery: Fashion

Style is a funny thing. I grew up an ugly duckling, my mother making most if my clothing out of somewhat heinous fabric… I was 7 and unfortunately allowed to pick out. It was brightly colored, Hawaiian print, neon zebra; basically what was left over from the 80s in the form of pretty princess gowns. Nothing ever fit quite right- which was ok. I didn’t fit me quite right but there are a few reasons for that.

Anyway, I got made fun of a lot for my fashion choices in middle school. I look back now and mock Ella the 8 year old “weirdo-tard” along with the popular kids of yore.

As a girl though, I feel like we learn how to be feminine ( an important quality of being a girl) from our mothers. Mine hated herself and it showed in the way she dressed herself, the way she didn’t shower for days and in the way she rarely wore makeup. There was no way I could blend in with the other girls whose mothers embraced their femininity. I was a wildabeast among roses, a regular sore thumb.

I still tried, and that actually seemed to make things worse. I tried to put my own makeup on, using Barbie as a guide. What else did have? I started getting Seventeen when I was 13, which I had to FIGHT for. It helped enormously, but at that point my social place was set and we were graduating and thankfully I was going to a high shool that required uniforms.

Fast forward to college. I looked like a homeless pot smoking hippie. Skirts over pants, pjs in public, and the occasional catholic school throwback, kakis and a white button down. Showers were optional for the first two years and much vodka was consumed.

I mention the vodka because it was the gateway into girl world for me. I made some girl friends for the first time in my life and they helped me learn to do things like, style my hair and wear lipstick and eyeshadow. Watching them taught me that it was ok to mention to myself that I had a feminine side. I was still terrified to embrace it though- I didn’t want to become the train wreck if a woman my mother was (and likely still is).

I didn’t learn until much later on, from a woman with a mans name, (who was born a woman) what being feminine actually meant. She taught me all the cool things about femininity. Like, that paisley is a color and crying is an ok thing to do and the power of wearing boots with red lipstick. I love her to pieces and always will- she’s the mother figure in my life who is fearless and beautiful and unafraid of being who she is. It’s inspiring.

So now, armed with my toolbox and mindset of “it’s totally awesome being a girl,” I’m embarking on a new journey: fashion. What fits my personality? (Now that I’m not afraid of it.) what fits my lifestyle? What makes Ella Fetch smell good? What makes Ella feel good to wear to work everyday? What, other than my lovely sense of Humor are people going to judge me on?

This process is so fun. I partially blame California and it’s epic thrift scene, but I’m thankful for it too. Lace isn’t scary, it’s beautiful. Red lipstick isn’t just for models, it’s for all women everywhere. Scarfs aren’t for hiding, but accenting the color of one’s shoes.

Femininity is a strength. I’m sad I didn’t learn that until 26, but I am so thrilled that I will not be spending a lifetime stuck thinking that being feminine makes me weak and stupid. I am happy I met the people I have met, regardless I the circumstances in which I met them, and I am happy to have the courage to experiment with my style.

Thanks for reading! Have a spicy evening.

E. Fetch

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