Maybe I alone don’t have the power to make a meaningful difference, but if I do nothing the only thing guaranteed is that nothing will change. If I do something and someone sees — maybe it will move them to action. And maybe that action inspires another, and another, and another. And suddenly a powerful chorus of voices seek to enact change in their visibility.
Just being an eccentric dresser doesn’t make one a visual activist. It requires intent, purpose, and constant refining/reassessment. It evolves as the message and times do. Most of all, it must be authentic to who you are.
‘If you are going to give me the side stare anyway,’ I thought, ‘I might as well be my authentic self and be the star of the Mindy Show.’ Anyone can choose to be ordinary. I choose extraordinary. Everyone should.
When I step outside of the house in my gender non-conforming style I am aware of the tensions it may provoke. For this reason I am always armed with my sharpest weapons – a smile, love in my heart, and a desire to educate when the situation calls for it. My unique style makes me feel at home with myself.
Approaching mid-runway I tugged my blazer sleeve – left first, then right. As the blazer came off I heard a roar! My pace and purpose steadied. Pivoting at the end of the runway for my walk back it started to sink in. A smile washed over my entire being. I DID IT! I REALLY did it! How I didn’t raise both arms in celebratory joy is beyond me.
The frames made me appear somehow more whimsical and welcoming. Not a week went by without someone making their way across a crowd to tell me how much they adored my glasses — enabling a new connection with a former stranger.
The top 9 (top 10s are so Buzzfeed) things I wish I knew before I made my first suit.
Patriotism demands questioning, challenging, and rising up for what’s right in the face of fear and hate mongering. It demands that we all look out for each other and stand together even when it’s hard — because the consequences should be unimaginable.
A few months ago my friend Jeanelle said the most moving thing to me. We were wrapping up a mentoring program at IHG and she fully changed the conversation to share her story with the circle. You see, she had just started wearing her hair natural. She took a good 10 minutes to explain the baggage she carries as a black woman when it comes to hair. Previous companies at which she worked had specific rules: no braids, no dreds, no afros in their fullest glories. I couldn’t believe it!
Jeanelle went on to say how freeing it was to wear her hair natural but how hard it was to feel like she wouldn’t be judged. “Did you ask your manager?” a colleague asked when she paused for a moment. “I didn’t. I just decided to do it one day. Mindy gave me the confidence to know that I could bring my most authentic self to work just by being Mindy.” In my mind’s eye my jaw dropped to the floor as speechlessness overcame me. That connection that Jeanelle seamlessly made that enabled her to take the risk of coming out of the ‘natural hair’ closet — that is best compliment for which a visual activist could ask.