UNLABELED: Challenging and Changing Stereotypes
We are excited to announce the launch of our new blog series Unlabeled. As part of the Unlabeled series, StereoType will share raw and authentic stories and perspectives from parents and caregivers from many different walks of life who have challenged their own stereotypes and mindfully transformed as a result of seeking a closer connection to their children. Unlabeled will highlight stories of learnings, breakdowns and breakthroughs, transformations, and so much more, as parents and caretakers seek to become more attuned to their own selves during their parenting journey.
How Blended Fashion Helped Me Find Myself by Megan Glosson
During my childhood, I never felt comfortable in the stereotypical clothing made for girls. Skirts made me feel uncomfortable, but I loved cargo shorts and baseball caps. Purples and pinks disgusted me, but I loved anything red, green, or black. My favorite shoes were sneakers and flip flops, and I avoided dress shoes at all possible costs.
However, I come from a fairly conservative family, so I often ended up wearing handmade dresses and jumpers. On the rare occasions I could dress authentically as myself, some of my classmates called me a "tomboy” and make fun of my clothing choices. Because of this, I spent years hiding behind clothes I hated just so I could fit in.
I put on the cute dresses and the pastel-colored tops. I tried my best to be the “sweet little girl” that everyone wanted to see. In other words, I conformed to what I thought I had to be. Although this conformity seemed to cause less whispers and arguments, I barely recognized the girl in the mirror because she wasn’t me.
During my teenage years, I found ways to dress more true to myself. My closet became a mashup of graphic tees, flare jeans, plaid skirts, and dark-colored blouses. Some days I’d look like a typical teenage girl, other days I’d look like Avril Lavigne. I wasn’t trying to make a statement — I just put on what I felt like wearing each morning when I woke up.
At the time I didn’t realize there was a term for my closet full of clothes that came from different gendered sections of several different stores. I just knew that buying and wearing clothes that spoke to me made me feel, well, like myself — authentic and free.
When I started dressing as my authentic self, I felt more confident and comfortable in my skin. In fact, I rediscovered myself in ways I never thought possible.
What I learned over the years is that we don’t need to meet anyone else’s expectations or check off all the boxes of gender norms to find our authentic self — we just need to be the person who makes us truly happy. We just need to unconditionally love ourselves.
I’m now in my mid-30s, and my closet is still an eclectic mix of anything and everything that speaks to me. Sometimes I wear one of my favorite graphic tees with a blazer and pencil skirt. Other times I throw on a pair of jeans and a comfy sweatshirt or an old t-shirt and a pair of men’s athletic shorts. I don’t wear clothes to please other people or to check off any boxes of gender norms — I just wake up each morning and pick whatever fits my mood and my plans for the day.
As a mother of two young girls, I also carry this approach to clothing and self-expression over into my parenting. From the time they were born, I never wanted to confine my daughters into the same uncomfortable expectations that trapped me for a large portion of my childhood. So, instead of forcing them to wear certain outfits just because of their gender, I let them pick out clothing that they like.
When you open my daughters’ dresser drawers, you will find everything from Pokèmon shirts and sweatpants to sparkly pink skirts and vibrant floral tops. I love watching them wear what makes them happy because I get to watch them live their most authentic life every single day.
I knew that my approach to clothing differed from most of my friends and family. However, I recently learned that there’s a name for the way I pick out my clothing and let my daughters choose theirs — it’s blended fashion. Blended fashion is important for people like me (and my children) because it can help us showcase our true selves through our wardrobe choices.
At the end of the day, I don’t want anyone else to grow up like I did, scared to express themselves and live their truth. And that’s exactly what embracing blended fashion can help us all do — accept and love ourselves for who we truly are.