(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Why It’s Okay to Be You
By Sarah Komisky
When people ask me where I get my clothes, the answer is usually one of the above: thrifted, vintage, eBay, clearance, traded, re-sale, discounted, giveaway, an unknown store, or re-repurposed after it’s been handed down from a loved one. Not to mention, my favorite pieces that frequently come from the closets of my favorite fashionistas: my grandma, mom, and aunt. You’ll often see me sporting cherished items from these awesome ladies rather than Nordstrom or Forever 21 because my mode podge closet has clothing that tells a story. In truth, it makes me blissfully happy to know that I can sport my mom’s sunglasses, a jumpsuit romper from my “aunt-ventures” in Venice, boho sandals passed down from grandma, and a floppy hat I got on sale for $5.
If you haven’t noticed already, I never shop labels and rarely shop at the mall. Anti-mall is more my thing. I guess it was always more appealing to create and pay less in the process. However, it’s also safe to say that I’ve always been attracted to fashion subculture when it comes to my clothing choices. I have my mom, aunt and, grandma who were all non-conformists in style to thank for that. All had a unique eye for fashion and helped create my world with color, texture, print, and creativity. I guess the apple doesn’t fall so far from the tree (and I’m really glad it didn’t) because they all taught me it’s okay to be myself.
From my grandma, I learned the art of bargain shopping, sewing, and tailoring. From my aunt, the art of always looking for interesting finds (even in the most unexpected places). From my mom, the art of thrifting, replicating, and styling vintage/retro looks.
Hence, my grandma made patterns and sewed all my back-to-school clothes while my mom crafted matching bows. When I got a little older and started to begin to pick out my own clothes, I would go with my grandma and Mom to downtown areas for inexpensive shopping sprees! When I got back to her house, I would model all my cool finds, twirling in admiration to the applauding crowd. Gram’s face would light up, “You look beautiful, Sarita!” Mom would echo with a, “Wow!” They both made me feel confident. Lovely. Stylish. Both never ever put down my artsy flare which often consisted of funky colored tights, flowered dresses, and crazy accessories. I therefore flourished as me.
As I got older, time with my tía was amazing with adventures to new places to find new things. She would pick from her magical wardrobe pieces to try on and make some fun suggestions along the way. When I was looking for a Prom dress, she would be the one to find the small store where I found my “it” dress. I would be the only one to wear pastel yellow, but it didn’t matter. I was in love with my vintage inspired dress from an unknown boutique. Accompanied with her pearl beaded clutch that she wore at her school dance, Gram’s homemade shall and mom’s small jeweled hair pins she found for me at Claire’s, I felt quite princess-like.
I ended up picking the same color ironically when I went to my college banquet. This time, I wore true vintage. It was also special because it belonged to my mom; a 1940’s belted day dress. It was the same one I wore in our MM vintage shoot. The same one I still adore. As a little girl, I’d often sit with her makeup splattered on the bathroom sink trying to paint black eyeliner over my lids in cat eye fashion. I’d pucker up and smear red lipstick over my lips and, as my mom starred back at her baby Cleopatra as it were, she would smile and say, “pretty.” She was the most beautiful women I knew, and in my mind, I wanted to look just like her. She was one who always said I was beautiful no matter what. So, I never felt “uncool” or different from my peers. Until one day in 6th grade when I proudly wore my patent pink baby doll shoes (a la Cher in Clueless) and was made fun of by a mean girl. Although I felt like the odd kid out, Mom reassured me it was okay to not go with the flow. Good thing I listened and developed my own sense of style. In high school, Mom suggested pairing pants with a dress and a crocheted brown poncho my grandma made that was once hers. I loved that idea! It prompted me to try new things over the years ranging from Mod to Indie to Emo to Bohemian and many decades in between (often mixing and pulling from different elements from day to day).
Sometimes I re-invent clothing to make something new. One time wore a black dress backwards because I like the boatneck in front instead of back. Another time, before the “nerdy” eyeglass trend took off, I went to the men’s section to find thick Buddy Holly frames. Although the lady that assisted me suggested that they wouldn’t work for me, I politely said no and got them anyway. No one says you have to follow the rules when it comes to fashion.
As a woman now in my 30’s, I’m still constantly creating and changing. Each morning is an opportunity to do so and I love that because I love the idea of being original. It seems God does too as He is the One who uniquely designed us! Ephesians 2:10 puts it this way, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” But there are days where I forget that I’m His workmanship—days I forget how I felt when I was a little girl. How I felt with my family who helped shape my confidence. There are days when I forget what my Creator says about me. I look in the mirror and pick out what I don’t like and let someone’s opinion make me insecure. I can let fear dictate my feelings. I focus on the negative comment said. I second-guess myself. I can let the darts of my past poke at my self-image and all of these lies attempt to defame the work of art that I am. When this happens, I essentially stop twirling like the little girl who felt so lovely and I don’t know about you, but that is simply not okay.
This is why I’m passionate about proclaiming a message that it’s okay to be who you are! There are a lot of messages and voices out there who will tell you otherwise, but don’t believe them. It’s time to start taking back what’s ours. To stop letting others spray their graffiti on us. Art is art. If you take a look at a Da Vinci, Frida Kahlo, Monet, and a Warhol painting, they are all different. You may have different preferences, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are all art. Nothing will because of the one who painted it. In turn, our art can’t be denied because it’s created by God Himself. Scripture says that humanity bears His very image and it is represented in a variety of ways. This is why it’s vital that we stop letting others take that label from us. All the things that we are tempted to hide and change are in reality the things that make us interesting. Own it! A part of why I created Marked Ministry was to inspire others to be authentic. It’s a part of why I feature real people with diverse range of styles. It’s also why I purposely stipulate that we use minimal or no editing at all when it comes to our photos. In a world filled with comparison and competition, I believe the world is searching for something real and needs to see it through us! So, take another look in the mirror. Remember who you are. Remember who you are to your Creator and in this safety, you are free to be who you really are. Unveil it for others to be inspired and transformed by it. Find your own style and rock it because you’re not generic. You’re art. Take every day to create and why not use fashion as a platform to do so whether you’re a skater, classy, sporty, hipster, modern, or a mixture of your own blend—have fun with it! Find those who view and value you as art, link arms and walk down your own path together because it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to be you.