A View from Within: M. Renee Williams
Style Consultant and thirty something year old, M. Renee Williams was asked to speak about society's interpretation of the way women dress and the comments that Chef Ayesha Curry made in December regarding the way women dress "nowadays".
How a woman chooses to adorn her body is 50/50 reflective and perceptive. 50% reflective of how she sees herself and 50% how she wants to be perceived. I am an image consultant, yet it is not my role to dictate what is socially right or wrong to wear. In all situations, we should aim to dress with an authentic style that's true to who we are and ask ourselves the following:
1) Does it reflect my personality?
2) Am I comfortable? physically and mentally?
3) Do I convey self-confidence?
4) Does the outfit demand the level of respect or treatment that I am worth?
These are the key points we should ask and affirmatively answer in the mirror. Too often, we do not always apply these standards into how we present ourselves. Because of the immense impression that pop culture and social media has on every aspect of our lives, we feel like we are burdened with the constant need to compete for relevance or “likes”. This effect now causes a stranger’s perceptions, thoughts, and comments to supersede our own personal interpretation of style. Unfortunately, we are not always prepared for or welcome the reactions of other men and women.
Regarding the ongoing conversation of sexy vs. slutty, there is no standard for an “appropriate” amount of skin to show. Again, it goes back to the four-points I mentioned. With this in mind, it is foolish to assume that there will not be any negative responses when we put ourselves out there. Just as we are free to dress how we like, others have the same right to voice their opinions. This is why it is so essential to dress for yourself and stand strong in your convictions. If you do, you will not be swayed or affected in any capacity by what people say. When I want to dress sexy, I opt for shoulder or back revealing tops or fuller-coverage bottoms that are more body-con fitting looks. I dress this way not because it’s the “trend” or the "correct" way, but because it is how I am comfortable for my build, lifestyle, and my personal style. I acknowledge that I am slightly more conservative than the next, but if another woman’s sexy looks consists of a JLo plunging neckline and super mini-skirt and she feels just the same as I do, then I say “Do you Boo-Boo!"
No matter what we choose, how we dress and how we carry ourselves will indeed alter how we are treated. Whether this form of judgement is right or wrong, it is a fact. We just have to be prepared to receive what we put out--especially online. We cannot change modern intelligence; we can only change how we engage in it. We all utilize some form of social media. This means we all have a platform to change the narrative of how women see each other. There is power in the tongue (or keyboard) to tear down or build up. It is up to us to make a difference; not only for us, but also for the generation of younger women who are replicating our every move.
M. Renee Williams is a 35 year old woman of Honduran and African-American descent. For the better part of the last decade, Harlem has been her home. After working and being frustrated with the perspective of the corporate side of the fashion industry she chose to embark on a journey of entrepreneurship by starting an image consultant agency and style blog. When it comes to her personal style, she calls herself a "conservative-liberal " due to traditional southern manners mixed with an openness of the trends of our ever evolving society. Always vibrant and full of creativity, Black (and Brown) girls are SO fly! Follow M. Renee on Instagram.