A View from Within: Shikira Chang Speaks
Teacher, mother and thirty-something year old, Shikira Chang 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".
I question if my perspective on this issue is based on my age. I, in no way, consider myself old, but there is a level of maturity that I now embrace as opposed to when I was in my 20's. I make a conscious effort to be objective and reflective in casting judgment. First, I think that many women (myself included) allow male perspectives to dominate and regulate their style and behavior. Despite the level of strength so many women exude, we seek the attention and acceptance of the "right” man. We often feel incomplete without the partnership of a man and we find comfort and security in the presence of one. Personally, I find that my ability to be self-sufficient can be emasculative, however there is still an unconscious desire to attract the man in my life physically and emotionally.
If women opted to dress provocatively due to personal preference I wouldn’t really have a problem. The issue, then, is the lack of respect I see among some women who, in an effort to attract male attention wear the tightest most revealing clothing. It galls me to see women exposed, especially while professing their love for God or claiming to be somebody’s mommy, posing
ass backside out or in thong bikinis. There is so much more to sexiness than just being exposed. There is a class and sophistication that is missing amongst young and sometimes older women.
I’ve been told that I have the ability to be sexy, but what does that mean? Luckily, I don’t always define myself by the perception of others. Knowing myself is an ongoing effort. I try to be as conscious as possible in regards to being true to myself. Those men who doubted my sexiness are the same men who are attracted to women who could easily pose in Maxim. That’s just not me, nor whom I aspire to be and, if it fits, that's the conclusion many women need to come to.
Today I question the impact of media on human behavior, socialization, and perception. Still my conflict is: are consumers smart enough to recognize their ability to impact popular culture or are we victims to the idea that celebrity or fame defines who we should aspire to be, what we should wear, how we should talk, dance, etc. We don’t understand our power as individuals nor do we recognize our holistic strength. I see it amongst the young girls I teach, posing duck faced in the school hallway, changing their clothes somewhere between the front doors of their homes and the main entrance of the school and it frightens me.
Shikira Chang is a teacher and mother of two. She has taught in the public school system for 9 years and continues to inspire change in the lives of Black and Brown students. Her Jamaican heritage shines through in her opinions, her intelligence and her beauty. She doesn't want you to follow her on Instagram.