I think being fashionable is when a woman takes ownership of herself, whoever she is
— Melissa de Leon
 
 

I had absolutely no plans of becoming a stylist.

I studied Fashion Merchandising and Design at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. I went into college with every intention to use my degree towards what I thought it was for: becoming a fashion designer. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college when all my grand plans of becoming a fashion designer quickly changed.

I think it was the psychology of fashion that grabbed hold of me. When I went to college I saw an opportunity to escape who I was and make something new of myself. After studying abroad in Paris, I slowly began to peel off the masks I had plastered over myself for 5 years, and chose to battle some of the insecurities that I had held on to since high school. I found myself guilty of using fashion to mask hurt, to cover up imperfections, or using it as a means to fit in. I had been tricked into thinking that what I wore would disguise the person I was ashamed of, when in reality, I was compromising myself. I began to confuse what I loved with things that I thought I should love or what other people loved when really – I was rejecting myself. I wasn’t willing to accept that I had style and personal differences and that I wasn’t perfect.

 

Over the years I have come face to face with more women who feel or have felt the exact same way I did. Almost every woman is willing to compromise herself because she thinks fashion has rules she must follow or because she wants to hide who she is. I don't believe that fashion is only for models or the socially elite. I don't think someone can be more or less stylish than the next person. I don't think style can be gradable or comparable. I think being fashionable is when a woman takes ownership of herself, whoever she is. I believe fashion should reinforce the fact that we were created as individuals.

I know a nice pair of shoes or a new outfit won't fix women’s problems - I'm positive of that. But I do believe that every woman deserves to know that she was created by a master designer, who perfectly thought her out and gave her purpose and unmatched beauty. After chasing fleeting dreams and running from this calling, I now know that I have been called to help bring these women to that realization through fashion. No matter where I end up in this industry, I hope that I am always able to validate and reinforce women’s worth.

It turns out, being a stylist was not at all what I had planned, but it was exactly what I was designed to do.

 
 
 

CONTINUED EDUCATION & CERTIFICATION

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