People often ask me what it is like to own McShane’s and how the ownership transition has affected my life. Owning McShane’s Exchange allows me to reflect on my experiences as a woman, amongst many other things. My encounters with customers allow me to dissect various parts of myself, whether I am actively aware of it or not.
I vividly remember this one instance where a young girl, she could have been about 13 to 15 years old, she was very excited about an item she wanted her mom to buy her. She held it up and said “I saw Lady Gaga wearing something like this! I love it so much!” the mom looked at the item, with extreme disgust and said, “you are NOT Lady Gaga, I am not spending money on that, it looks TRASHY!” The girl’s face went from a cheerful demeanor to heartbroken, instantly. She gently put it back, and her entire body language shifted. Her neck and shoulders slouched. She crossed her arms, eyebrows furrowed. With her words, the mother was able to bring her daughter’s confidence from 100 to 0 in a matter of seconds. The crazy thing is that this probably wasn’t the first time her mother critiqued her taste, and it probably wasn’t going to be the last. I felt for her. I wanted to say something, but it wasn’t my place.
I still think about that girl a lot and hope that as she gets older, she finds a way out of her mother’s criticisms. And not just her mother’s but society’s, friend’s, men’s, and anyone else who tells her what is appropriate to wear, how to talk, and what to act like.
I went home that night and reflected on previous occurrences in my own life. I thought about who I was and what I felt when I was 13 to 15 years old. I started writing a list of memories of instances where people made comments about my fashion choices, and how those comments affected my style thereafter. It was really eye opening.
How many of us have internalized other people’s opinions regarding what we wear? What would life be like if your fashion choices solely depended on who you truly are and what you’re comfortable in?