Let’s Talk About Race

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Calvin Klein Collection - Front Row - Fall 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

After looking at the fall 2013 collections that were presented in New York, London, Milan, and Paris a couple of months ago, something became very noticeable: there is a disturbing absence of non-white runway models. Jezebel reported after New York Fashion Week that of the 4,479 individual looks shown through the week, a whopping 82.7% were shown on white models. Meanwhile, Asian models were featured in 9.1% of the looks, black models wore about 6% of the looks, non-white Latina models showed 2%, and models of other races were in about 0.2%-0.3% of this season’s looks. An even more upsetting fact is that high-profile labels such as Belstaff and Calvin Klein featured entirely all-white casts, and in total, 9% of this season’s New York presentations featured casts of only white models. Now I’m not big on statistics, but even I can tell something is completely wrong. In New York City, a place noted for its diversity, why are so many prominent fashion designers choosing to show their looks almost exclusively on white models? Instead of becoming more progressive, this season’s NYFW was even less diverse than the last.


Unfortunately, New York showed more diversity than all four of the major fashion capitals combined. Based on the research by Kate Rushing for Style Minutes, 968 models walked in at least one show this past Fashion Month, and there were about 479 total shows between New York, London, Milan, and Paris. 87.6% of models were white this season, 6.5% were black, 6.1% were Asian, 2.1% were Hispanic/Latina, and only .31%, or three Israeli models, represented Middle Eastern descent.


I won’t say that the issues regarding models’ weight are unimportant, but the perturbing amount of white models dominating Fashion Month is becoming an even greater distraction. What makes matters worse is that the fashion industry’s possible racism doesn’t stop after the shows are done. There have been countless instances of racism in editorials, particularly involving blackface. Most recently, French fashion magazine Numéro released a spread titled “African Queen,” which featured Ondria Hardin, a 16-year-old white girl. Hardin was essentially painted brown and styled in stereotypical and slightly pejorative looks. Though the ridiculous styling is offensive enough, Numéro didn’t even cast a black model to portray an “African Queen.” The magazine blamed the photographer, Sebastian Kim for the catastrophe, who threw the blame right back at them, ultimately distracting from the real issue. Meanwhile, the publication’s apology basically seemed to state “we’re sorry some people got offended, but we have some black models in other issues of our magazine so whatever you’re all wrong,” as if race is just a basic and unimportant subject.


Perhaps that’s the largest problem with the fashion industry’s apparent prejudice against non-white models. It seems as if designers and casting directors consider racial diversity to be an accessory; it’s almost like they look at including a non-white model the same way a stylist would consider whether or not a scarf should be worn with an outfit. However, within the fashion industry, this obvious inequality causes competition between models to be the top black, Asian, or Latina model. You don’t see white models fighting for a runway spot or ad campaign, yet we’ve seen countless cases of the industry pinning non-white models against each other (Tyra Banks vs. Naomi Campbell or Chanel Iman vs. Sessilee Lopez, anyone?). Racial exclusion in the fashion industry presents an even bigger problem. Even a middle-American suburban girl with no particular interest in high fashion will notice this apparent white ideal, as the white girls who dominate runways will eventually dominate cosmetics and television advertisements.

As much as I love fashion, I think it’s time for this typically progressive industry to catch up the rest of the world. Race shouldn’t define a standard of beauty.

The Speed of Fashion

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Spring/summer, fall/winter, spring/summer haute couture, fall/winter haute couture, pre-fall, resort, and other collections. It never stops.

Just when I thought I could take a breather after cramming for finals and rushing to get my things together at the end of another school year, I’ve been reminded of the often overwhelming pace of the fashion industry. The Chanel resort 2014 collection greeted me in a way that could be seen as harassment as I aimlessly perused the Internet. Don’t get me wrong, I thought Karl Lagerfeld’s Singapore-inspired show was one of his best works in recent years. However, I’m beginning to wonder: is fashion moving too fast?

It’s is a consumer-driven industry, and today’s consumer has a shorter attention span than a toddler. With the help of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we can see the latest from fashion insiders in a split second. Personally, I usually enjoy the luxury of fashion at my fingertips. But as designers, writers, and other people in the industry feel the need to keep up with consumers’ desires for instant gratification, it seems like they could be getting spread too thin.

Nicolas Ghesquière recently spoke about commercialization stifling his creative vision, and with the speed of today’s fashion market, this couldn’t be more apparent. In several cases, the creativity and fantasy that once accompanied high fashion has been lost in the quest for commercial, media-friendly work. I won’t call out specific instances, but I’ve seen multiple brands lose their creative vision and diminish designers’ skills. Presenting a true struggle of quality vs. quantity, it often seems that people are finding it more important to elevate the corporate side of a fashion house instead of mastering the development of unique items. As new trends come and go in the blink of an eye, it’s hard to find the real innovation.

The idea of a fickle, impatient fashion consumer couldn’t be more apparent than in the modeling world. I’ve already discussed the issues that come from this fast-paced environment, as most fashion models have essentially become disposable. The “shelf-life” of these girls has virtually wiped out the concept of a supermodel (I could go into even more detail about this issue regarding male models, but that’s another story). Each season brings a stampede of new faces poised to be superstars, but fashion industry insiders and consumers move on to the next model faster than you can swipe through your Instagram feed.

Realistically, the speed of fashion is only going to increase in the future. We can view collections in real time on websites like Style.com, while social media is becoming more advanced every minute. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to have these things readily available; maybe I’m just too slow and need to start keeping up more. But I really hope that designers, writers, editors, bloggers, models, stylists, photographers, and everyone else involved in the fashion industry can find the balance between presenting their skills and appealing to consumers.

Share your thoughts!


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Punk teaser final

Tonight is one of the biggest nights of the year in fashion: The Met Gala. Although my upcoming finals ripped me away from the event in New York, I’m still just as excited. This year’s exhibit, Punk: From Chaos to Couture focuses on the spirit of punk rock and how it’s informed high fashion. Featuring over 100 designs for men and women, it will include original garments from the early 1970’s punk rock movement juxtaposed with contemporary fashion pieces. Much like the upcoming exhibit, the event will definitely be embellished, but with designers, models, celebrities, and other superstars.

Plenty of people are scoffing at the theme, while Cathy Horyn calls the exhibit “the sanitized and bloodless version of punk’s origins and influence.” However, the punk concept of D.I.Y. and the couture concept of “made-to-measure” can often go hand in hand; the established haute couture houses aren’t as different from the anti-establishment motives of punk as one might think. As looks are handmade and embellished to fit an individual’s own body, the craftsmanship of couture isn’t far off from the production of punk pieces. One of the event’s co-chairs, Riccardo Tisci sees this conversation as “two different approaches, but the same concept.”

More important than the gala or the exhibit is the ideology. Punk doesn’t necessarily have to be the image that the movement’s founders presented, as Tisci defines it as an attitude more than an aesthetic.

“It’s fighting for your rights. Not being scared of opinion. Freedom,” he says.

We’ve seen this ideology in fashion multiple times over the years, and I don’t just mean when a designer replicates certain punk-inspired elements for their collection. Riccardo Tisci embodied this attitude when he reestablished Givenchy against expectations and criticism, while he personally sees this spirit being revitalized by Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent. In my opinion, someone working in the fashion industry who is truly original and unique can revive an aspect of this courageous movement.

With freedom of expression comes freedom of emotions. Tisci says, “people are so scared of emotion, and it’s a big part of life. Especially when you are creating in public. This is why I support a lot of artists that are not scared to show emotion…People that don’t—not in a bad way—but they don’t give a shit. They don’t give a fuck.”

Call it being punk or being a badass or whatever you want, but what’s really moving and inspiring is a sense of freedom and fearlessness. Especially in the rigid fashion world, it’s what makes a person and their work stand out from the crowd, and it shows where the most talent and intellect comes from. I can only hope to someday embody this spirit to some degree.

In the spirit of punk fashion, here’s to not giving a fuck.

Check out Riccardo Tisci’s full interview with Style.com here, find out some more info on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2013 Costume Institute (which runs from May 9-August 14) here, and take a look at some of my favorite punk-inspired fashion looks below!

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Nicolas Ghesquière & Commercialization

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Nicolas Ghesquière’s work for Balenciaga was nothing short of immaculate each season, so I (along with plenty of other people) was shocked when he randomly left the fashion house. Not only was his exit abrupt, but it was also unexplained…until now.

In a recent interview with System magazine (via The Business of Fashion), the exceptionally talented designer finally told what caused him to part ways with Balenciaga. Essentially, Ghesquière said that he felt his vision was stifled by the business side of the brand. He also explained that he wasn’t being helped when it came to Balenciaga’s corporate aspects.

“Everything became an asset for the brand, trying to make it ever more corporate – it was all about branding. I don’t have anything against that; actually, the thing that I’m most proud of is that Balenciaga has become a big financial entity and will continue to exist. But I began to feel as though I was being sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenise things. It just wasn’t fulfilling anymore,” Ghesquière says.

Nicolas Ghesquière is currently planning his next chapter and dissociating himself from the house of Balenciaga, and I can’t wait to see how his immense creativity will manifest itself in the near future. However, his comments leave me wondering: is the commercialization of fashion becoming a bad thing?

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen a designer’s creativity get lost. An incredible look from the runway would be almost unrecognizable when on store floors, while some designers’ collections are becoming less innovative and more commercially appealing. Meanwhile, the sense of exclusivity that once accompanied fashion is slowly deteriorating. Although it’s nice that the mass awareness of the industry is becoming more common, some major concepts are getting cheapened.

In regards to Balenciaga, the corporate side of fashion couldn’t be more noticeable. The brand replaced Nicolas Ghesquière with Alexander Wang, a commercial success. Wang’s first collection for the house was very well-done, and his work for his own line is usually just as impressive, but I can’t deny that his debut was safe and market-friendly.

This is a topic I could go on about forever, but I guess I’ll have to cut myself off at some point. On a final note, I can only hope that creativity will ultimately prevail.

Check out some of my favorite recent looks by Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga below, and feel free to share your thoughts!

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I Love You

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It’s one of the most commonly used phrases, globally known in every language. It’s meaningful, deep, and profound. It’s abused and misused.

We use the phrase “I love you” for many things, yet are we using it properly?

We lie to significant others, and in turn lie to ourselves. We say, “love you, bitch,” or something along those lines to our friends. And let’s not forget how we drunkenly slur, “I love you” to whoever is around to provide immediate, temporary companionship.

However, we don’t use it when it really counts. Even if two people are truly in love, they don’t tell each other enough. It’s more than just a conclusion to a conversation over the phone. It should be symbolic. We don’t tell our closest friends. Despite truly caring for each other more than a girlfriend or boyfriend, sometimes we forget to actually say those three simple words. We can never tell our family members enough. Miles apart due to work or school or any other circumstances, we never know for sure how often we will see our parents, siblings, and other relatives, and a simple “I love you” could maintain the closeness. There are people in our lives who would do anything for us, literally putting their own well being at risk for our own health and happiness. They don’t hear “I love you” enough, starving for the appreciation and gratitude that nourishes our souls.

Most importantly, we don’t say, “I love you” to the people who are in need. At times, someone may be buried in emotional distress without even saying anything. We’ll never know what certain friends and family members are dealing with, but sometimes “I love you” is enough to provide reassurance. Sometimes it’s the only thing that could keep someone alive. It’s the only thing that we’re not just desperate to hear, but to feel.

So use the phrase wisely, and let the most important people in your lives know that you love them. You never know how much it will mean to someone.

Top 8 Style Tips

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You’ve probably lost count of how many of these types of articles you’ve read, but some people just won’t seem to learn. On a daily basis, I see plenty of well dressed people. Unfortunately, I also see a lot of people who make me cringe, and I’d really like to help them out. So here are my top 8 tips for looking stylish…or at least looking somewhat presentable:

  1. Less is More: This is definitely one of the most common tips, yet I feel like it just doesn’t register for some people. It’s more of a problem when someone is trying so hard to be stylish, hoarding all of the season’s hottest trends at once. STOP. You don’t look stylish, you look confused and quite possibly mentally unstable. Stick to one trend at a time and try to incorporate it into your own sense of style. I know minimalism isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but basics will keep you from looking insane. If you’re wearing a crazy print or embellishment, add some black or neutrals to tone it down a little. Let’s say you’re wearing a shirt with a neon pattern. Put off the printed pants in exchange for some black jeans, and take off that costume jewelry. Some great basics to pair with your wild pieces and simplify your looks are a white shirt or blouse, a black suit or a “LBD,” a basic leather jacket, and classic jeans.
  2. Throw Some Shade:
    Yes, we all have our days when we don’t want to put together a great look. Maybe we aren’t looking or feeling our best in general. In this case, sunglasses can be your savior. Some classic Ray Bans will add an extra dose of style when you’re a little disheveled, while they’ll also hide any insecurities. This isn’t necessarily an excuse for wearing sweatpants or PJs, but it’s definitely a step up for some lazy college students.
  3. Take Care:
    Even the best dressed people make the huge mistake of not properly maintaining their clothes. I’m sorry, but I really don’t care about your new silk Versace shirt if it’s a wrinkled mess. Take your ass to a dry cleaner, or at least read the washing instructions on the tags of your clothes. Also, shining and protecting footwear is essential. Nothing looks worse than a filthy pair of shoes. The price or quality of your clothes and shoes is irrelevant if you can’t take care of them. We’re all big boys and girls, and we can learn how to get our shit together.
  4. Don’t Become a Slave to Trends:
    Trends are great. They help us keep an eye on what’s going on in fashion, and they make things interesting when we look back on old styles. Also, they make it easier to decide what to wear and how to wear it. But they shouldn’t become your only frame of reference. Blindingly bright prints were huge a few seasons ago, but it’s unlikely that those same pieces would be appealing today. Don’t buy something that won’t look good in a couple short months; you’ll be wasting your time and money. As Yves Saint Laurent once said, “fashions fade, style is eternal.”
  5. Shut Up Your Shirts:
    I’m a fan of graphic tee’s. What I’m not a fan of is obnoxious shirts with obscene graphics. “I’m with stupid?” No, you look stupid. Also, in-your-face brand names or logos aren’t making you seem sophisticated. If it looks like something you could buy off of the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore, don’t wear it in public. I’ll admit I have some cheesy tee’s, and I’m all about those “Homiés” or “Comme des Fuckdown” pieces. But there’s a time and a place, and certain t-shirts are immature and straight up tasteless.
  6. Dress for Yourself:
    We all want to emulate a lot of the styles we see in magazines or on the runways, but not everything works for everyone. It’s important to dress for our age, body types, and personalities. If you’re generally pretty conservative, don’t try to do the “rock chic” thing. Also, I’d just like to say that there’s a difference between looking elegant and looking like a 45 year old; you’re not Audrey Hepburn, you’re a teenaged girl. The fit of clothing is essential, especially for menswear. Clothes look sloppy when they’re too baggy, and nothing looks attractive about someone shoving themselves into things that aren’t their size.
  7. Repeat it Right:
    There’s nothing wrong with wearing even the most elaborate pieces more than once, but don’t wear them the exact same way every time. This type of redundancy makes you look boring, lazy, and uninspired. If you’ve got an awesome shirt, wear it with a different pair of pants, add a jacket, or add some cool accessories. Most importantly, allow enough time between repetition, regardless of how much you switch it up. I’ve worn certain things almost consecutively, and it’s still embarrassing,
  8. Do you:
    This is just as obvious as the first tip, but people still tend to walk around looking like clones. One of the greatest things about style, especially in Western culture, is the freedom to express yourself. I see too many people walking around looking identical, unintentionally categorizing themselves as what some like to call “basic bitches.” Don’t be a basic bitch. Also, any runway look can easily be modified to fit your own individual sense of style. I’m not going to tell you how to create your own style when it’s something I’ve been establishing myself, and everyone has their own tastes. But it’s necessary to be creative and expressive. Just don’t go overboard and become a caricature of yourself.

There’s a lot more I’d like to cover, but at least this is a start. Though slightly redundant, hopefully these tips are helpful for a lot of people. No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. But try to keep some of these concepts in mind before walking around looking like a fool with no sense of style.


· Features


“What’s wrong?” can be one of the hardest phrases to answer. For some, nothing and everything is wrong all at once.

Today I was introduced to the Semicolon Project when browsing through Facebook. The concept is to draw a semicolon on your wrist today in honor of anyone who suffers from depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, a broken heart, unhappiness, or other related struggles. The grammatical character represents that a sentence could have been ended, but the author chose not to, metaphorically relating the author as the individual and the sentence to life. Essentially, the project symbolizes moving forward through pain, and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.

It’s probably not the best decision for me to completely expose myself to a sea of strangers known as the Internet, but I’d like to think that honesty is the best strategy in any situation. With that being said, I’m definitely feeling the Semicolon Project. While I don’t feel suicidal, I won’t hesitate to say that I’ve faced my fair share of emotional struggles.

Something that definitely plagues me is feeling “good enough.” Whether it’s for a certain project or person or whatever, sometimes I (and I’m sure plenty of others) don’t feel adequate or worthy. This feeling of insecurity is often a result of rejection, which I’m definitely familiar with. It’s likely that I am completely inept to any sort of romantic relationship. This doesn’t usually bother me, but rejection still stings. No one enjoys being told, “I had a lot of fun last time, but I’ve been talking to someone for a while and probably shouldn’t hook up with anyone else,” or something along those lines. But what truly gets to me is professional rejection. I’m somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to my professional endeavors, and my greatest fear is failure. I always blame myself when I don’t receive the call or email I wait for from a potential employer. Of course, the frenzy of emotions can be overwhelming, sending me into a state of anxiety. Everything pauses while I think into a situation with copious detail and envelope myself in stress.

Sorry if you think I’m a little crazy, and sorry for turning this into some kind of diary entry. What I’m trying to explain is that we all have our struggles, and we all need love and support. Especially regarding the recent events that have ravaged Boston, bolstering a friend or family member’s spirit when they are unhappy is one of the most powerful acts. You never know when someone is hurting, and we need to always reach out and show that we care for others. The best forms of artwork and expression come from a sense of longing and melancholy, yet the beauty cannot be exposed if our fellow people are left in the dark.

It’s been an emotional couple of days here in Boston, but the theme of the Semicolon Project must continue past this. Possibly the hardest part of dealing with these issues is accepting self-love. In order to move forward and help others, we need to love ourselves.

I know I’m starting to ramble here, and I apologize for all of the negative themes in the recent posts. In conclusion, we need to remember that we’re often put in awful situations that put us directly on the path where we belong. In light of all that’s been going on and all of the emotions we regularly feel, continue to share positivity and affection as much as possible.

I’ve been talking a lot about moving forward, which is essential to dealing with any unfortunate situation. And now, after all of these emotional posts, it’s time to proceed and stay positive. Let’s get back to the fashion.

What is Sexy?

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There’s been a lot of backlash after Victoria’s Secret’s latest campaign, mainly regarding the brand’s newest Angel, Karlie Kloss. The 20-year-old got a lot of attention when she chopped her hair into a blunt bob right before the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show this past November, though the new ‘do was replaced with $75,000 worth of weave for the event. These days, the lingerie company is embracing Kloss’ hairstyle, but the rest of the world seems somewhat outraged. In general, people feel that short hair isn’t sexy.

I’ll admit I was a little shocked when I first saw Karlie’s shorter hair, I was surprised when the girl who first hit the fashion scene at age 14 landed Victoria’s Secret, and I was perplexed when she and her bob starred in the racy ads (above). Since then, I’ve gotten used to the style, and I find it funny that something like short hair has become so controversial. If there is so much outrage because a notoriously sexy brand is represented by a girl who doesn’t have the longest locks, how would people respond to a curvier model or a girl of a different race? Mainly, I’ve been wondering, what exactly is sexy?

In the Renaissance era, a “sexy” woman typically had a fuller figure and a rounded face (see just about any painting from that time). In later years, sexiness was defined by society as women who looked like Marilyn Monroe, with perfect proportions. Somewhere along the lines, people have decided that the traditional Victoria’s Secret woman (Candice Swanepoel, Adriana Lima, etc.) represents the concept, but hair never seemed to be part of the criteria.

I could go on forever about what makes a woman sexy, who defines sexiness, and anything related to the topic. However, these types of things get fairly complicated. So in light of the Karlie Kloss controversy, I’ve been thinking of how I view sexiness (see the images below). “Sexy” is a subjective term, and not everyone will agree with me. On that note, I want to ask again, what is sexy?

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New York State of Mind

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There’s something about being cradled by skyscrapers that gives me life. I know it sounds cliché, but I’m literally obsessed with New York City. I’ve visited the Big Apple more times than I can count, and each time I’m always left wanting more; it’s easily one of the most addicting drugs. Whether it’s fashion, nightlife, arts, or literally anything else, New York is the absolute best.

Again, I’ve been to New York plenty of times, but each time reignites my infatuation. After visiting last weekend, I’m even more determined to be in the city in the near future. It goes without saying that it’s the elite location in the U.S. for anything fashion-related, which automatically appeals to me. Meanwhile, every time I go out in New York, my mind is blown by the limitless sources of fun and entertainment. It’s also nice that the promoters tend to be more generous to me than some of my coworkers in Boston.

New York is all about taste. There’s something for everyone’s taste, and whatever your preference, New York will have the most tasteful and influential form of that. I hope to see myself navigating the busy streets like the protagonist in a video game in the very near future (ideally with lots of success). My academic year at Boston University will end in less than a month, and even though I’m registered for summer courses, I will do whatever it takes to spend the majority of my summer in New York. Whether it’s interning, continuing to work in nightlife, or even working at a lower-level position just as an excuse to stay in the city, I’m determined to get my foot through the door and start building my network.

As I looked off of a friend’s balcony just moments before leaving for Boston, I saw the endless skyline of tall buildings. It was almost like the buildings were challenging me; it’s not uncommon for New York to chew people up and spit them out. Disposable, revolving door: a couple phrases that come to mind when I think of attempting to make it in New York, especially in the field I hope to work in. But the urban forest didn’t scare me. The jungle looks like paradise.


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I’m a PR major, so it’s a little weird that I’m enrolled in an anthropology course. Regardless, I just finished a project for that class that required us to draw our family tree and delineate our genealogy (pictured above). Besides being reminded that my family is a little screwed up (but really, whose isn’t?), this assignment had me questioning my identity a little bit.

I imagined my classmates (even the most stereotypically “white/American” students) drawing up these expansive family trees that take their roots back to diverse, interesting places. I also thought about some of my closest friends who come from cultural gold mines like Bangkok or Istanbul. It’s not abnormal for me to wish I came from a more exciting place than rural New Jersey, and there have been times where I imagine how much more interesting it would be to come from a cosmopolitan European or Asian city. As I connected the lines between each relative, which were drawn loosely to reflect the recurring distance among my family members, this genealogy assignment reminded me of my desire to adapt or even change my identity.

Maya Angelou once said, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Unfortunately, certain things can’t be changed. I don’t want to accept the fact that my family has been in America for years and I don’t exactly know what to answer when someone asks me my heritage. However, as frustrating as this cultural disconnect may be, there is no reason for this to become an issue in defining myself. This should not be an issue for anyone, as we all continue to understand ourselves more and more every day. Whether it’s our ethnicity, physical appearance, sexuality, or other aspects, there is always a way to become the person you want to be.

I’m no motivational speaker or activist or whatever, and this post might be kind of droning at this point. But after internally struggling with forming my identity, I’ve ultimately gained a bit of acceptance with developing my sense of self. In other words, I’m still growing and learning, and I shouldn’t let anything in the background restrain me. Neither should anyone else; you can always be who you want to be.

Feel free to comment & let me know what you think!