Letters to the Audience

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To the fashion-oriented: Most Americans don’t know what it’s like to live in a totalitarian regime where one is stripped of their freedoms and are censored from speaking out, but we know what it’s like, don’t we? Every strand of rainbow hair, every tattoo, every piercing, is an expression of bravery. It is an expression of the truth. It is an expression of American ideals: freedom. Why else would we wear items of bondage (corsets, dog collars, etc.)? Because we are in bondage. When America does experience such a state, such that will make us seem like a Middle Eastern country, most will be shocked at how their freedoms are stripped away, but we will not be surprised for we have experienced it every day.

Why do you think modern art is so prevalent? Because it doesn’t cause one to think. I understand you. I understand that what you are doing is to get people to think by what we wear. Sadly, we can’t. Clothing is too easy to misconstrue. People are not going to get it until we talk to them about why we wear what we wear, peacefully and constructively.

Don’t be angry, instead “forgive them for they know not what they have done.” (Luke 23:24). Most people don’t intend to be mean or hateful and those who do are crying out for love. Awareness is the key here. Awareness is what we need to spread throughout the nation and every nation.

However, if you do not dress to express your inner being, if you do not dress for art’s sake, and if you do not dress to get others to think, then I want to say this: If you think you get a lot of attention, you don’t. And you wouldn’t want it either. Some of you are beautiful by society’s standards. Just imagine how much attention you would get as a quadriplegic, or as a Siamese twin, or as a bearded lady. You do not even have hypertrichosis, or werewolf syndrome. You ain’t got nothing on attention-getting. I, or anyone else, would never do business with someone who only dresses radically to get attention. It makes everyone else who dresses  to send out a message about one’s inner being, or about observation’s of the surrounding culture, look bad and not brave. This is what makes people think that we do not deserve respect or to be treated as an intelligent human being, even though we are.

To the mainstream: In Switched at Birth, ABC Family TV show, the character Bay comes back from the Galapagos Islands with a feather in her hair. Her brother is not a fan, but she tells him something to the effect of “There’s nothing you can say that will make me take it out.” This is how the fashion-oriented feel when they are told how to dress for an interview or just to go to work to pay their bills. An example of this is tattoos. Tattoos are seen as a no-no to interviews. However, many tattoos are religious, military, related to love (e.g., “I love Mom” tattoos), or symbols of self-expression (even if the expression is one of humor).

Some Israelis bear Holocaust tattoos to remind others to remember the Holocaust or to bear the mark of pride that they are descendants of survivors: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/01/world/middleeast/with-tattoos-young-israelis-bear-holocaust-scars-of-relatives.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

To reduce it to an embarrassment or like a mole is to be disrespectful to the nth degree.

I have learned the importance of boundaries and what I will or will not tolerate. I will not tolerate people who inadvertently attempt to nullify one’s entire existence, which is what people do who do not understand the fashion-oriented. I will not tolerate those who attempt, even if unknowingly, to eradicate my pride or anyone else’s pride. Most tattoos, and other items of fashion, are a symbol of pride, perhaps showing that one is a survivor or showing that one is in love. Anyone who disregards the importance of symbols also disregards the importance of the sacred. To believe people will be willing to sacrifice a reminder or expression of the most significant moment or thing in their life for a paycheck (which is what employers do at interviews), is inhumane, cruel, hateful, and accepted.

If you are a religious person, if you wish to do no harm in this life, or if you do not want to feed the oppression, then I would encourage you to help spread the awareness of how the fashion-oriented are being dehumanized daily. Your neighbor’s ignorance is unacceptable when all you need to do is have an open conversation. The next time you see someone who chose self-expression over a paycheck, do not feel pity for that person, feel inspired.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

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If you haven’t heard already, the fashion-oriented have been making headlines.

Tattoos in the News: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2012/09/23/20120923mesa-should-settle-tattoos.html

Tattoos have gotten a few wins every now and then, such as when young suburbanite women got small tattoos on their ankles, behind the ears, on the neck, and other dainty places (e.g., Mandy Moore‘s tiny heart tattoo on her toe) because it was the “in” thing to do. They also had a small win when the definition of tattoos also covered permanent makeup, affecting other female suburbanite and city dwellers. However, they are gradual wins. For example, we have politicians who have tattoos, such as Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles, who has a “born to raise hell” tattoo. However, he has to cover up all his tattoos with a suit and tie. You’ll never find him without it. This says two things: 1) he wants to keep them and 2) society does not want him to. Now we have tattoos declared as free speech, which may only be a temporary win as courts elsewhere are deciding on other free speech matters, such as whether or not books can be shut out of certain markets (See http://standwithkt.com/cause). Where do I stand on tattoos? I’m for tattoos. I even gave a speech about it in French. When you see me, you will not see my tattoos immediately, but know that I have them. Remember: Do not judge the seeming inkless lest they have ink. My dream and Lavoce’s dream is that we will have more employees like the girl with the dragon tattoo. She got a good paying job because they realized her value in the workplace and knew that “she’s the best researcher we have.” Despite everything else she endured about how others perceived her, we must remember to be thankful for the small wins and to always look for those nuggets of gold.

Transgendered in the News: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/sep/24/us-inmate-sex-change/

In other news we have a prisoner seeking a male-to-female (M to F) sex change operation while serving prison. To have a change, there needs to be “Christine Jorgensens” spokespeople for the transgender and transexual population in various arenas. Prison just happens to be one arena that will affect many lives.

The attitudes we have about prison overlap the attitudes the general populace has toward tattoos. I wish it weren’t so, but a fact is a fact. Some believe that they made the choice and need to pay, painting a broad stroke for all behind bars. I believe that sometimes there are cases where a person has served their term before it’s up, especially if innocent. Is it not enough to keep them in a dictatorial city within the prison walls that we must also take away everything else they have left, including their ability to rehabilitate? Is this really how we want to be judged–as the people who condemned 5% of the world population from the young to the elderly plus those who have already done their time for minor offenses decades ago? Is that the legacy you want to pass on to your children? Or do you want to fight for what’s right? Do you want to do what you can to change people’s attitudes? It’s your life and your decision.

Resource:

Criminal Justice Fact Sheet: http://www.naacp.org/pages/criminal-justice-fact-sheet

Shame is Lame

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I remember one time I was in a grocery store with my mom. I complimented the man at the bakery counter on his tattoos and was genuinely interested. My mom made a backhanded comment, almost unconsciously, that complimenting someone on a tattoo was like complimenting someone on a birthmark or mole. Now, I love my mom, but that comment was way out of line. One couldn’t even make such a comparison. Maybe you’ve heard strange comments such as that about your tattoos or hair or whatever else. People say some strange stuff, stranger even than the clothing on our bodies. If someone says something like that to you, I urge you to say, “I am proud of [_], and I do not give you permission to make me feel ashamed.”

My Story

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“Look through the outer crust of personal adornment, clothes, so-called culture and the like, and down deep into the heart of all about him. […] An old farmer up in Vermont always used to wind up his prayers with this plea: ‘Oh, God, give me an open mind!’ If more people followed his example they might escape being hamstrung by prejudices. And what a pleasant place to live in the world would be.” —Napoleon Hill

You may think that people who dress outrageously just want to get attention or are in a phase, but you would be wrong.

When I was a freshman in high school, I dreamed of being a fashion designer. My Goth friends actually couldn’t wait to go to school just to see what I was wearing, but I still had to sneak out of the house wearing “normal” clothes and change in the restroom every morning. Eventually I got tired of the stares; it only exaggerated the shyness in my head. I have struggled for years to make my exterior match my interior because I felt forced to give off a false impression of who I am to pay my bills. Sometimes this would even translate into looking happy when I feel an opposite emotion. Is this not ridiculous?

I have met people who dress outrageously every day and will never stop in all walks of life. There are people who just dress the way their religion dictates among those who do not share their belief or understand even one minor concept of their belief. This is courage, not attention-getting, and those who dress for less than noble reasons make things difficult for the rest of us who just want freedom. The courageous will never compromise their freedom for money. I was not one of them, but I want to make life better for them and for me. I see people who have compromised, had meltdowns, covered themselves in tattoos when they decided to quit compromising, then struggled financially. But why is compromise necessary? Why indeed? Not everyone who has a tattoo wants to work in a tattoo parlor for the rest of their lives, and not everyone who has a salaried job wants to wear a suit and tie for the rest of their lives.

Those who fit neither group go to Renaissance festivals, dance clubs, gay bars, or anime conventions to feel free on the weekends or maybe just once a year, but such things are a package deal and not everyone is interested in the entire package because oftentimes it involves peer pressure or spending a lot of cash.

The movement will not be over until dressing for success has nothing to do with a suit and tie. Sure, you can wear that if it makes you feel good, but you can’t expect that it will make everyone feel good.

Your life will be greatly improved when you can feel comfortable in your own skin and fantastic in your own clothing and allow other people to feel the same way.

Just because…

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  • you’d rather wear pajamas to work doesn’t mean you’re lazy
  • you’re a government employee doesn’t mean you don’t have tattoos
  • you have tattoos doesn’t mean you don’t dream of being a Disney animator or that you can’t be an archaeologist, life coach, or business owner
  • you have fangs and cat eyes doesn’t mean you don’t love kids
  • you’re a treehugger who wears only natural fabrics or a freak who has rainbow hair doesn’t mean you can’t be in IT
  • you’re psychic doesn’t mean you can’t wear business suits
  • you’re a woman doesn’t mean you can’t wear cufflinks, ties, kilts, or get your shoes shined
  • you’re a straight male doesn’t mean you can’t wear pink, eyeliner, or dresses
  • you’re gay or black doesn’t mean you can’t wear Republican pins and clothing with elephant designs
  • you don’t seem to need fashion freedom doesn’t mean you don’t support it

“When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so the male will not be male and the female will not be female… then you will enter the Kingdom” (The Gospel of Thomas 22)