Saturday, November 14, 2015

Inspiration for Breakfast: Jenna Lyons and the Watermelon Skirt

Inspiration for Breakfast: New article from the Lenny Letter—curated feminist, style, health, & politics-centric newsletter by actress and director Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner of the critically acclaimed HBO tv show “Girls”— written by Jenna Lyons, President of J.Crew, preppy style guru, and former “ugly duckling” turned confident, quirky style icon.
Known for her thick-brimmed glasses, six foot stature, and cult-like following of self-professed “J.Crew addicts”, Lyons was anything but the “it girl” growing up. As a teenager with incontinentia pigmenti (a genetic disorder that led to scarred skin, bald patches, and lost teeth), Lyons recalls being the last one picked for the dodgeball team, the butt of jokes in social studies, and the once cruelly labeled word “gross”.
Depressed by her “ugliness”, Lyons turned to fashion magazines to surround herself with beauty and inspiration. but, thanks to a seventh grade class in home ec, Lyons learned to sew a simple watermelon skirt that changed her life. what soon snowballed into an external transformation grew into a lesson in gaining self-confidence:
“Don’t misunderstand. My external transformation did not expel my internal doubt and lack of confidence. But it did give me a much-needed boost…. and to this day, I often feel like i’m on the outside. But what I realized along the way was that a lot of the really smart, interesting, talented, compassionate, and equally dysfunctional people sit out here with me.”
As the girl who was the serial black-listed classmate of the cool kids’ birthday parties and frequently loathed teacher’s pet, I too discovered the power of transformation in middle school. If I wasn’t going to be on trend with the abercrombie and fitch wearing masses at my school, I learned to become confident enough to embrace my personal style as a positive, unique identifying factor.
Today, I still love fashion for this same purpose. My style is an expression of my current mood, an outlet for my creativity, and an extension of my individuality. Looks should obviously not be a primary factor when estimating one’s worth, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there are some pretty transformative powers in a piece of clothing. I can not deny that a bright-colored jacket cheers me up on a rainy day; a well-tailored blazer helps me feel poised even when I'm a nervous wreck; or how a totally impractical, oh-so-indulgent yet art-worthy pair of embellished tortoiseshell earrings have become the best conversation starter in a sea of strangers.
Although they are more rare, I do still come across the occasional casually cruel remarks about the frivolous nature of my passion for style. There are definitely moments when I look and feel like a flamingo in a flock of pigeons, but then I read articles like Jenna Lyons and her watermelon skirt and I am reminded that there are some “really smart, interesting, talented, compassionate, equally dysfunctional, and confident, style-loving individuals who sit out here with me.”
Why blend in if you were meant to stand out?

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