When your soul — the real authentic you — has the opportunity to shine from within, it is a fashion-forward statement of its very own. So while we are working these fabulous layers of style to stay warm, let’s be sure we are also cultivating a foundation of authenticity.
Authenticity is an unhindered state of being that is connected to who you are at your core. I believe that every person is lovable, important, and valuable. This is a core value that cannot be earned, nor can it be taken away. I recently held a newborn baby, which was a sweet reminder of this.
So, let’s keep it real: We all want to be seen through the lens of our ideal self. The “I’ve got it going on,” put-together version that is packaged up nice and neat so people will like and accept us.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m clearly passionate about fashion and wearing the clothes we feel good in, but when we show up in the world with an agenda, whether consciously or unconsciously, to gain acceptance, we put on layers upon layers that smother our authentic self.
Looking back, it’s easy to see that my layers began to form when I was a bi-racial child in the ’70s. That’s when I learned to hide the real me. No matter how hard I tried, I just didn’t fit in.
My classmates made fun of my hair and complexion. I was a little bit too light on one hand, but I wasn’t quite dark enough on the other. So, I turned to makeup and clothes to gain acceptance. I always made sure to straighten my curly hair and kept a pair of Jordache jeans close by.
As life went on, despite my professional success, more layers were added and more compromises were made until I realized that I was in danger of disconnecting from my true self. Something had to change.
Living authentically is an inside job. It has taken an intentional journey of laughter, tears, disappointments, and breakthroughs to discover my worthiness and priceless value. Underneath the layers of fear, people pleasing and approval seeking, I found confidence and contentment with who I am from the inside out. I still adore my designer jeans, but I now set healthy boundaries, speak my truth in love, and rock my natural ‘fro.
There is incredible freedom and joy that comes when we are comfortable in our own skin. When we are willing to be more transparent, self-accepting, and aware of who we really are, we can begin to peel back the layers that are stifling us, giving the unfiltered, authentic version of ourselves an opportunity to breathe.
Embracing self-acceptance and choosing to stay true to yourself will take courage. But this is the pathway to allowing the brilliance of your soul to shine through.
As you get dressed each day or page the fashion trends online or in a magazine, let it be a reminder of your value and authenticity — just like a Haute Couture garment crafted by one of the world’s top fashion designers, you too are a priceless, one-of-a-kind masterpiece. Not a knockoff, but the bona fide, genuine, real thing.
What does being authentic mean to you?
Nicole Pillow welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.