Two and a half weeks ago, was Easter, for me, being a man of faith, this is a time to observe the resurrection of Christ. A joyous time where families get together, put on their “Easter” best, and go to church; followed by family outings and huge dinners. As an adult, I now realize the importance of Easter, it signifies the rebirth of Christ, which inspires us to recommit to whatever it is we are looking for in Christ. But as a kid I was mostly concerned about Easter eggs, Easter baskets full of goodies, and getting home to watch my favorite cartoons. What was Easter like for you as a kid?
As a kid, I hated getting dressed up, putting on fancy clothes, and taking pictures outside of our home or even worse at church. Those “adorable” moments with cameras flashing, adults telling you to “Smile! Say cheese!” and look “happy”. Fast forward to today and I really don’t need a reason to dress up in fact, I blog about it and teach others how to gain a sense of style. I love taking pictures in a good outfit. There is something fascinating about capturing those candid moments and letting them tell a story all on their own. But that wasn’t always the case growing up. As I already mentioned, I hated getting dressed and taking pictures. But what people didn’t know about me and frankly what all black men struggle with at any age, is a lack of expressing one’s feelings (bottling up how you feel), self-identity (what am I), and defining oneself by the perception of others.
Growing up I was very mature for my age, which made me very self-aware, and therefore self-conscious. Being an African American male I had trouble identifying myself-was I black enough? Being a first-generation African born American during a time where you were the butt of every joke, literally. Remember the phrase African booty scratcher? Aside from that, I compared myself to others, those popular kids, the ones that “fit in.” This in turn led me to internalize a negative perception of myself because I felt that I lacked identity, wasn’t important and wasn’t considered cool by any means. So I didn’t think too highly of myself. I thought every picture I was in looked ugly, weird etc. So with all this, who was the person I could talk to; that could show me that my black was beautiful; that everything I felt is what others felt too but we were all too scared to admit it? Let’s not forget that it was ingrained in us that men don’t cry, expressing our feelings and being vulnerable was always met with some type of resistance. Is any of this striking a chord?
Needless to say, I found my identity. For that reason, and others, is why I love to create unique outfits and capture those moments-to show that my black is beautiful. Bringing it back full circle, here are a couple of pieces I put together; more like my “Easter Best “outfits. First up we have what I like to refer to as my Sprite remix outfit. In the wise words of Lil Wayne, “I like my Sprite Easter Pink”. I really wanted to create an outfit that was bold yet very simple. So i started off with a nice white collared shirt accompanied with sand textured vest by Safford from JCPenney. I wanted each garment to stand out on it’s own. Next was a pair of white Levi jeans followed by a Pink blazer by Stafford from JCPenney as well. When I think about this ensemble, it reminds me that it can be word for any occasion, a nice vacation, celebration on the countryside etc. Don’t try to limit what you’re wearing to just one occasion.
Next was my favorite look that day. It simply was a nice counter to the outfit I just talked about. A nice light blue blazer by Stafford from (you guessed it) JCPenney, with a nice paisley shirt from Nordstrom Rack. A quick simple swap that made this look favorable for any occasion. Honestly what came to mind when put it together, was that it would be great for a wedding. Sorry to cut it short but I didn’t want to bore. I wanted show you hope, creativity and the confidence to do whatever you like regardless of what a person perceives you as.
So many of us are hurting and have nowhere to turn, but I hope you now understand that you are more than what society sees you as… That man in the mirror is me, that man in the mirror is also you, but most importantly that man in the mirror is a Miracle!
“Their insecurities have nothing to do with you, and their stereotypes are their problems, not yours… Far too often we downplay the way God has made us. Because he made us stand out; made us look different; made us with uniqueness that makes people stare at us when we walk in a room. Standing tall, we’ve painfully played limbo with invisible bars that people have set for us, when really we were never made to bend our backs for them in the first place; but stand up because despite what others expect beyond some unmeasured reason God has made me just the way I am, to do exactly what I am doing, and I guess I’m still learning to be cool with that” – Joseph Solomon