How fashion affects courage and self-image

How fashion affects courage and self-image

I'm Andrea, a twenty-four-year-old French nurse who moved to Paris just over a year ago. I describe myself as a forever explorer, a food lover and an art lover, so those aspects of myself will obviously stand in my writing. I am also what society calls a plus-size woman.

I feel like it is time for women from everywhere, every shape, every state of mind, every stage of life to embrace their inner strength.

Through this post, I would like to discuss how fashion affects my own courage and self-image. 

I would describe fashion as all the ways to dress with a certain behaviour and audacity. Fashion is pluricultural and limitless because when it affects as many people as it does, it needs to be diverse. That is the first thing that I love about fashion: that it depends on each of us and evolves along with us. But how can clothes, accessories or make-up be a real asset to achieve self-acceptance and confidence? 

I was born in the south of France in a medium size town and I moved to Paris almost two years ago to allow myself to discover a new life chapter. As a kid my mom used to be super attentive about the way my little brother and I looked. She used to sew a lot, she always liked nice clothes and wanted her kids to always be well dressed. For example, she matched my hair ties with my outfits, she even matched my tights with hair accessories in winter. My mom always told me that our looks reflect our state of mind and our confidence. Growing in this spirit always puts the way I dress on my list of favourite things to take care of. For instance, when I was younger, I used to play with dolls and always took great care of how they looked: always nicely dressed and with their hair done.

Being your own fashion stylist

Later as a pre-teen I dreamt of becoming a fashion stylist. I drew a lot of women's silhouettes and a lot of clothes. I felt creative and free when I was drawing, like everything was possible and reachable because I was in charge. Then as a plus size and tall teenager, I wore a lot of my mom’s clothes. I was taller and wider than my friends and I was always seen as the mature and older one. 

Wearing grown up clothes felt right at that time, it almost felt like a fabric shield that I could wear to face the world.

As long as I remember during my adolescence, I always took notice of the way I looked, of how I was externally seen by others because I knew that with my height and my curves I was always seen in a crowd, no matter what I did. It was also a way for me to take control of something that I could be and was proud of.

Around six years ago, I discovered that one of my uncles was once a model for the prestigious French designer Balmain. I saw pictures of him and felt thrilled and joyful because I realized that other family members were interested in the fashion world before me. And the surprises didn’t stop there: my little brother who is the absolute pride of my life, also became a model. My mom and I encouraged him to try when he was a teen because we always knew that he wanted to take a step in this field. I went with him to his first model castings in France and London, and we had amazing times there. And thanks to his determination, talent and maturity, he managed to go to the London Fashion Week to parade for a young designer. I rarely felt so genuinely proud of someone. Seeing him blooming like that was such an accomplishment as a big sister. 

As a 25-year-old woman, making my own money lets me pursue a love of fashion; and use fashion as a real mirror of self-confidence. Thanks to my recent status as a fully trained nurse, I can buy clothes that allow me to explore a lot of different styles, different shapes, and even different periods of fashion thanks to vintage clothes. Having a full-time job (and pay) allows me to dress mostly as I want and especially how I feel. Because my looks always depend on my moods and desires. I love to wear something that is unexpected, and that is another one of the things I love the most about fashion: that it can be ground-breaking and push expectations. 

The expectations of plus-size women

Socially speaking, plus size women are way too often expected to wear large, neutral and unfitted clothes but there are so many ways to embrace your curves. There is so much to discover, so much to explore and try. When you’re building self-confidence, make sure to surround yourself with caring people. They will allow you to bloom as you should and deserve. A brand such as Zizzi allows customers to break the mould that society built for them, a narrow-minded and tasteless fashion mould. I feel proud and right to work with this brand because the team that I met at through Everyday Women has made me feel that women were finally understood and heard – because they participate in this flourishing movement of body positivity, which I consider essential in 2022. 

I’m talking about fashion, but I need to be a little bit more specific about the type of clothes that brings me instant confidence. Usually, whenever I want to boost my self-confidence, I wear vibrant colours and patterns. They make me feel joyful, bold and ambitious. One of my favourite pieces of clothing is a good wrap dress. I like them with medium length and low-necked fit. I always feel comfortable with myself in platform sneakers and shoes, even if I’m tall. When it comes to accessories, I love to wear things in my hair: colourful hair ties, satin scarves, turbans. And finally: jackets! I absolutely love jackets, denim jackets, blazers, bombers, oversized jackets etc. I believe that they always finish even the simplest of looks. And they make me remember how my mom looks so elegant with them, she always wears a jacket on top of her clothes. 

I like to change make-up depending on my mood. I can wear very bold looks with a lot of colours, but I also like wearing a very neutral and nude look. Lipsticks are my favourite go-to, I have more than 30 in my bathroom! 

Communicating without any words

Fashion allows me to communicate with the world without words, but solely thanks to the emotions, memories, bold combinations that my own way of dressing implicates. 

Fashion gives me the opportunity to explore creativity, variety of states of mind and even more importantly my evolution as a woman.

The way that I dress evolves with me, grow with me – and I feel confident and proud about all the different styles that I have experienced because they all matter to me. And in a way, this evolution expresses how I want to be seen in the complex world that we live in; as completely myself and as an unexpectedly, but continuously evolving being. 

To conclude, I can easily and proudly say that fashion was a major variable in building and affirming my confidence, self-image and worth through its ever-lasting diversity. I realize this every day and I hope that after reading this post you will also be able to find the right angle that allows you to feel confident and powerful. Don’t forget to make fashion an advantage for you and not a limit!