In the last few days, since positing my blog about wearing black, I have received many inquiries about the significance of colors and the impact they have in our lives. This has prompted me to share my own story and my relationship with color. Note that while this story has a happy ending, it is a story that I have struggled to tell because it is rather sad and upsetting.
My relationship with color, or rather with fashion, began at a very early age. Growing up in Colombia, South America, I am used to seeing women and men wear beautiful colors. As I child, I used to observe them every day while waiting for my school bus early in the morning as they were off to work. I was mesmerized at the beautiful clothes the majority of the women wore. I would even draw them to help me remember the bright colors and he exquisite textures they were wearing.
However, my mother, a woman who wears lots of colors, was opposed to the idea of me and my sisters wearing bright colors. See, my mom is White Hispanic while my dad is Black. She felt that having us wear colors, would make us look darker and therefore get us noticed even more. In a way I sort of understand now what she meant. Every time we left the house, strangers would ask her where did she get “those kids”. We did not look like her, nor did know any other kids who looked like us or whose parents look so different from one another. It did not help that other kids and adults were mean to us and made fun of our skin tone. Just as my mom suggested, I did my best to hide and avoid being called names. I avoided wearing colors for many, many years and chose to only wear black, almost as if were mourning my own existence.
Despite going through a pretty rigorous Modeling training at a young age -one that taught the meaning of self-confidence, style and discipline- and getting modeling gigs that got me so much attention, I still choose to wear black over the colors that I loved and that also complimented my skin tone.
In my early twenties, I was lucky to meet one of the most influential people in my life through my work in International Politics. A woman with so much elegance, grace, power, and above all, incredibly generous and not afraid to speak her mind. She became my mentor and friend and very quickly picked up on the “Black Vibe” as she called it. She went through my closet and pulled very few items of a different color. Most still had the tags on. She forced me to wear a light purple sweater, over black pants since that’s all I had, and took me shopping right then. We bought, red, greens, yellow, pink and every possible shade of sweaters and tops we could find. I also bought my first red coat. It was the middle of winter and the idea of wearing such bright colors seemed so out of place not to mention, I was so afraid of what people would think.
When I first started to wear all these colors, I felt that people were looking at me. But soon I learned they were looking because I looked different. Being a marathon runner at the time kept me quite thin and I had not realized wearing black all the time made me look almost ill. People kept complementing me on how well I looked. Who doesn’t like to get compliments? I was static to receive so many and so I kept adding a ton of colors to my wardrobe and make up routine to keep the compliments coming.
Soon I started to explore more colors and shop in places I would not have dared to go to during my “Black Vibe” phase. Anyone who met me then, would have never known that for years all I wore was black.
As a kid, I was always fascinated by the color red. Needless to say, I could not wear it. Red signifies not only passion but it also signifies strength, power, good luck and in some cultures, the beginning of a new life. For me, it signifies all those things but most importantly, it signifies freedom. When I decided to combine my two passions into one amazing wellness brand, I knew the color red had to be the core of my brand. Many tried to keep me from doing this as some feel Yoga and the color red do not well together. I however, went with my gut and if you have had a chance to see the pictures on my website, then you probably have seen all the pictures of me wearing red.
I wear red lipstick & red nail polish every day (except for Halloween) and I believe that my clients are not only used to it, but that they also have come to expect it. Whether I am teaching a 6:00 am Yoga class, editing a client’s wardrobe, hosting an event or even going to a doctor’s appointment, my red lipstick is always on. When I wear it, I feel powerful, confident and most importantly, free.
What color speaks to you?
Stay well, happy & fabulous!