[Philip in inspired clothing]
The other day I received an email from Philip,in South Carolina, on the subject of being teased and bullied for dressing unconventionally. I had just had a conversation with some of my “Advanced Style” ladies about this, so it was the perfect time to reflect on this important and especially relevant issue. I usually keep the blog pretty light but I wanted to share Philip’s email and my response with all of you and give you the opportunity to share your thoughts . Please join the conversation by commenting below. I look forward to hearing from you all.
Dear Ari and Advanced Style Women,
I am a young gay male in my 20s currently living in South Carolina. Since I was young I have loved to express myself and I learned about style from my grandmother. She would wear large jewelry and dresses with bold patterns on them. Every since I was young I have been teased on picked on for the way I express myself through my clothing and style. What advice would you give to someone who is being teased or laughed at by people daily for the way they dress? How do you deal with the negativity?
Thanks so much for writing in. I have had the same experience as you, digging in my grandparent’s wardrobe and wearing colorful and patterned shirts throughout middle school and junior high. There was a moment in High School where I toned down my style, but I wish I had kept on expressing myself. I have learned a lot from the ladies that I meet In New York. They sometimes get laughed and stared at, but they continue to dress up ad ignore the negativity, in fact 90 year old Ilona responds, by saying, ” I did this for you, to make you smile.”
I was teased in High School but had the support of a creative group of friends and a wonderful mom and grandmother. If you don’t feel comfortable dressing up how you want, take small steps towards expressing these ideas. I used to wear fun hats, like my grandfather’s fishing hats and vests. Do what makes you feel comfortable and know that you will have your whole life to dress up. Sometimes I would wear something a bit more conservative but wear a colorful pair of socks. Remember you can dress up at home, make videos, start a blog and share your style with others.
It is important to express yourself and dressing up is only one facet of the creative process. If the bullying gets too much, put your ideas to paper, take photos. I used to draw pictures of extravagant ladies and it would help to get my ideas out. Remember that there are many people like you and try and connect to them. Stay confident and remain an individual. It is your individuality that will take you places. It definitely gets easier as you get older and stay true to yourself.
Ari Seth Cohen
Your reply really means a lot to me. I keep reading it over and over. Today I went to school feeling a bit paranoid, but I kept thinking about what one of your amazing lady friends said once, “at least once they walk by you and laugh at you they will remember you. you will had made an impact.” I would love to hear what the ladies have to say about my issue, and I’m sure many other young peoples same issue. You can include my name if you would like. Your blog has become a huge inspiration for me. I am thankful that you are finding these ladies and I’m thankful for these ladies bravery and fearlessness to live their lives so boldly.
Some insight from the ladies…