Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Careful Inspection

Have you ever sat down and thought to yourself, "Why am I here in the first place?"  I'm not even talking about all the philosophical questions of whether humans, a higher being, the Earth, or anything exists, but simply about the origins of our living where we do and interacting in the particular environments that we have.

I remember the first time I had this thought at five years old.  I can't recall what inspired this sudden metaphysical plunge, but I remember the waters clearly.  An aura of fluffy clouds and blue skies--presumably my idea of heaven--surrounded every corner of my mind, submerging me in a deep and temporarily inescapable rumination.  "Who am I?  What am I?  How did I get here?" I thought.  Of course, at that delicate age I wasn't quite aware of the biological answers of these questions, but even with this knowledge, I still mull over many of the same queries today.

Over the past few weeks, my sociology class, Reputations and Rumors, has been discussing the Sand Creek Massacre, a mass genocide of more than a hundred Cheyenne and Arapahoe men, women, and children on November 29, 1864, near Denver, CO, for the professed purpose of eliminating the "Indian problem".  This egregious scar of history is pertinent to Northwestern in particular because our university founder and chief benefactor John Evans was, in the words of University of Denver Professor Alan Gilbert, "at least an enabler, if not the brains of the operation."  Ironically, both Professor Gilbert and my own professor, Gary A. Fine, are distinguished "John Evans Professors," a title to which they now react with discomfort and even ire at times.  I highly encourage you to check out both professor's research on this topic, along with that of my friend, Heather Menefee, leader of the Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance at Northwestern:

The assignment with which we students have been tasked is to determine how to address this issue in the present day.  As so happens, the university has just recently established a commission to confront this challenge.  Seeing as though I am not yet sufficiently knowledgeable on this subject and have no right to decide what is and isn't a proper solution that serves our native population, I believe, as do most of my colleagues, that we must reach out to the small but mighty group of native peoples in this country and ask them, "What can we do to prove our commitment to humanity and equity?  What WILL we do to honor YOU?"

So, the salient question is not "Am I here?" but "Why am I here?" and "How am I here?"  The immigration of my ancestors over the last 350 years explains the former.  Unfortunately yet inevitably, some variety of shame underlies the latter, for me and for every American.

Think about it.

Though controversial and uneasy at times, such discussions are essential to a thriving, progressive, intellectual environment, and their timely address and our sincere engagement therein allow us to corroborate our dedication to the the principle on which this country was founded: "equality and justice for all."

Thank you so much for reading and contemplating with me, and have a fantastic Halloween, everyone!

Reflect and never neglect,
Amanda :)

Scarf: Marc Jacobs.  Blazer: J. Crew (old; similar here).  T-shirt: J. Crew.  Shorts: J. Crew (old; similar here.)  Shoes: Nike.  Bag: Miu Miu.

All photos courtesy of Eric Pan.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

At Home

To quote that old wise man, Beyoncé, do you ever feel as though you're not at home in your own home?  Even though all the trimmings are trimmed and the trappings are trapped, do you ever feel as if the fixings aren't quite, well, fixed? 

Antiquated holiday references aside, I felt such a disconnect for the longest time, not so much in my St. Louis home pictured above, but in my campus home of Evanston.  Sure, my academic performance was steady, and I had met some fantastic people, but who was I to determine whether these people were really my "friends"?

An implicitly elusive term, a friend should be someone you trust, someone you believe will always be there for you, no matter how many mashed potatoes you shamefully devour at the family reunion.  That's how love works, folks.

Nevertheless, a profound sense of want consumed me on more than one occasion these two plus years of college--a want for friendship, a want for fulfillment, and above all, a want for self-definition.  I soon discovered that you can't clear space for what you need until you remove yourself from what you need not.

It may sound like an intuitive solution, but it proved much more onerous in practice.  I really had to step outside of all the fetters of my life to realize precisely what was pinning me down.  As it turns out, the primary hindrance was myself, namely the exorbitant weight I had placed on what turned out to be phony friendships and a synthetic self.  Instead of prioritizing excitement and thrill, I should have stayed true to that long-lost girl who told me to embrace my own strengths, voice my own values, and never strive for anything that's not "mine".

Leave the drama to the wayside, and reclaim your absolute best self, because it's been there waiting for you all along. :)

Now go get it!
Amanda ;)

Dress: Nicole Miller.  Necklace: Alexis Bittar (old; love this one).  Shoes: J. Crew (old; similar here).  Bag: Céline.

All photos by Eric Pan.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

In Full Swing

I've returned for seconds!!  I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for all the support and enthusiasm you have expressed via Facebook and in person.  It means the world to me to know that my posts are reaching such engaged, compassionate people. :)

I'll be honest: tonight started out as a rough one for me.  One of my supposedly best friends, in her words, "friendship broke up" with me...  Yeah, I know; that's not at all normal, and I can barely understand it myself.  Long story short, she implied my friendship was inconvenient to her lifestyle, and  she left.  Just like that.

Well, if you ask me, I think my presence in your life should be more than a matter of convenience.  We are all human beings, not disposable objects intended for others' exploitation.  Every one of us feels, hurts, and loves, and we deserve honor and respect.  

Each day I discover just how exceptional and unique every single human voice is, and it's nothing less than incredible.  As a matter of fact, just as I was about to drown my sorrows in mint chip ice cream and endless rumination, my friend saved me.  She encouraged me to go out to Halloween Bingo and watch Halloween Town II, and I had an absolute blast!  It's friends like these who continuously restore my faith in humanity, even as unfortunate souls try to diminish it.

 I say, don't even give those people the chance to bring you down.  In the words of my much admired Legal Studies Professor, "If anyone ever asks you to doubt your intelligence, your strength, or your character, don't buy it for a second."

Stay strong for yourself and for those who are worth your time, and don't mind the belligerent voices from those who have lost their strength.

Keep fighting the good fight, and have an empowering weekend, everyone!

With heart and soul,
Amanda :)

Outer top: Express (old).  Tank: Express (old).  Necklace: Lulu Frost for J. Crew (old; love this one).  Skirt: J. Crew (old; love this one).  Bag: Louis Vuitton.

All photos by Eric Pan.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Pilot Post

Welcome, everyone, to my fashion blog! :) This compilation of editorial and stylistic expression has been a long time coming for me, and I am thrilled to finally possess the means to share it with friends and the world at large.  A little about myself: My name is Amanda, and I am currently double-majoring in Linguistics and Legal Studies at Northwestern University, with the goal of attending law school.  Over the past two years in college, I have developed a deep passion for human rights and immigration law, which I hope to integrate into my eventual career.  In fact, I am in the process of writing a thesis comparing asylum procedures in the U.S. and Canada, particularly pertaining to women.  Above all else, I hope to secure justice and triumph for the under-acknowledged and underrepresented members of society, and to break every debilitating stereotype.

As for the reason why I've created this blog...  Ever since about 8th grade, I've embraced an undying verve for fashion.  While other kids fiddled with their Gameboys and iPod Shuffles or whatever, I was cutting up every issue of Vogue and pasting my favorite looks into a series of spiral notebooks, alphabetized according to designer and celebrity name.  That pastime continues unabashedly to this day, but I do hope this blog will bring something a little less amateur and a lot more universal and valuable out of me.

Sure, my love for fashion is a hobby, but it is also my lifestyle--an inextricable component of my being.  What I wear is not only a external reflection of who I am, but it is also intimately linked to how I personally perceive the world and what I feel some daily artistic expression--in the form of, say, a furry red scarf or some cheetah print jeans--can contribute to it.

So I very much hope you enjoy viewing my posts and reading my occasional rants...or commentary--whatever you'd like to call it! ;) No matter what you do in this life, do it your way, for yourself, and about yourself.  Trust that you will find your meaning and all that may entail, because you WILL.   And remember, a little honest experimentation never hurt anyone. ;)

All my love and appreciation,
Amanda :)

Scarf: Bloomingdale's (old; similar here).  Pin: Chanel.  Bag: Miu Miu (old).  Top: Banana Republic.  Jeans: Ann Taylor (old; love these).  Shoes: Dillard's (old; love these).

All photos courtesy of Eric Pan.