I'll bet you have never had the chance to discuss fashion and style with a nun, have you? Before last Saturday I hadn't either, but on Sat. Aug 27th, there I was chit chatting it up with Sister Cecilia about our shared love of fashion magazines, bargain shopping, classic trench coats and timeless twin sets. What event paired me- a struggling fashion stylist- with a fashion loving, chic sweater wearing street smart nun? The "It's a Girls Thing Conference" sponsored by the Renee Jones Empowerment Center!
The event was held at the Collinwood rec center and I presented the Style Me F.L.Y. (Feel Like Yourself) Workshop that included a self esteem and personal style discussion with a group of girls ages 12-17. It was so cool! My awesome model friends came out to help me: Ohio Ent. Awards Model of the Year Nominee, Mahogany, fitness, runway and print model Harmoni Stone and Yasin Cuevas, creator of Project Model brought in four Latina models including Miss Ohio Latina Paulina Jewel!
I rode over to the venue with Ms. Jones and almost as soon as we got there my models arrived which was great cause baaybee let me tell you! Sometimes they don't show up at all and I had prepared scenarios for 10 models, but was prepared to rock with only one or two lol. I've been in this too long not to have a Plan B-Z... I had already prepped two of my models on a cute but very brief skit that basically covered self esteem, personal style, shopping on a budget and the difference between fashion and style all in one.
Mahogany played the mean materialistic girl draped in all designer, bragging to her homegirls (all dressed in white shirts and jeans to illustrate style preference and individualism) about all the money she just spent on herself from Saks, while Harmoni breezed through dressed in a simple little black dress (LBD) and sandals. A girl from Mahogany's crew commented how cute Harmoni looked and asked her where she got her outfit. When Harmoni replied "The thrift store", Mahogany turned up the hate and her nose while her girls continued giving Harmoni her style props.
The next scenario included a basic fashion formula outfit that consisted of a plain white t-shirt and jeans and the multiple ways to style a simplistic look by using accessories and a few style tricks. I used the Project Model girls for this one and had instructed them to wear solid white tees and a pair of jeans and that was it, the fashion gawds came into play because even though they had on what I asked them - they all wore different styles of shirts, pants and shoes. It was perfect! I laid all of their add ons onto the table and just went down the line adding blazers, scarves, jackets, chunky chains, long pendants, pushing sleeves up, cuffing and rolling pants legs and other tips to help the girls realize you don't need money to look good! The way to stretch your wardrobe is by styling your items differently every time you wear them ...
My power point was long (truthfully too long lol) and discussed everything from ways to build self esteem, how to achieve personal style, how to read fashion magazines, how to build and plan a wardrobe and many other things and I ended it by quoting the chorus of TLC's "Unpretty" cause it fit. I did not talk the whole time lol, and the girls participated in ways that surprised me by answering questions about self esteem and empowerment.
Tamiko Ruby J, owner of Studio LL50, came in right after me with a "Knowing Your Value" talk and helped the girls reset their energy by doing breathing exercises (which I definitely participated in and felt relaxed AF after). She not only spoke to the girls, but asked them questions and actually listened. Sometimes we adults talk at kids and we hear them, but don't listen. She listened as they explained what their definition of the word "weird" meant to them- somebody who was different, stood out and did their own thing in a good way- which proved how sometimes the generational gap is so large because of archaic definitions and a lack of clear understanding.
That was followed by an Art Therapy session with Art Therapist Gretchen Miller. The girls were instructed to trace their hands on a sheet of construction paper and were given a sheet of paper with affirmations on them. They were to choose five that stood out to them and then write them out inside of the hands to decorate. It was pretty cool to see what each of the girls chose and how they decided to decorate them and the reasons behind their choices.
We closed the workshop out by getting started on esteem/personal style vision boards using fashion and lifestyle magazines donated from the Carnegie West branch of the Cleveland Public Library but ran out of time before we could complete them. I promised the girls I would return to the center on Thursday to finish them up.
I had the best time! I loved being around the young ladies talking about fashion and style but also just seeing where their heads were when it cames to how they thought of themselves. This age group is constantly bombarded with images and content telling them what they are lacking, what they need to get, what they will never have and is out of there reach- way more than what we had to deal with at that age... This particular group of girls were so strong and opinionated it made me feel good. Many might not have known exactly what they wanted, but they did know what they did not want and had no problems speaking up for themselves. In other words they would not be silenced and/or spoken for and that's a major key to self esteem.
The Style Me Fly workshop can be tailored for all ages and groups, for more info email me: email@example.com
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