I always felt that I am not enough. Until I was about 25, I was convinced that to fit in and be happy, I had to look perfect.
And I did look “perfect” until I became a teenager. But as soon as my hormones started to change, my whole world was turned upside down. My fight with acne began. In the beginning, it was not too bad, but slowly it was getting worse and worse. Until the point that I couldn’t leave the house without make-up. It was a brutal fight. Every time I looked in the mirror, I felt like crying. Every single time. I remember trying to put foundation on, but it wouldn’t stick, as my face was so wet from teardrops. On top of it all, I was bullied at school, which continuously reminded me that I am not good enough to whatever standard. I was terrified and insecure on the inside. I was obsessed with my look and what other people thought about me. I hated my appearance, and the only thing I was praying for was for someone or something to “fix” my look and make my acne disappear. Yet, on the outside, I was pretending to be strong and tough, because I was convinced that the way I looked determined my value in society. I was so convinced that the problem is with me and that I could only be happy if I fit in and look perfect.
It took many years and lots of healing to realize that I can let go of this idea of a “perfect self” and that I don’t have to fit in to be happy. I was terrified for so many years to hide my real self, because I thought if people get to really know me they won’t like it. Today I am grateful to have had these experiences because it was them that taught me how to truly accept and love myself, despite my imperfections. If I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing. Because those hurtful moments and dark years are the ones that made me the person I am today.
With the years, I realized that I am not the only one. In fact, it is a global issue many people feel that they need to look and be a certain way in order to fit in. We have beauty standards and a whole industry that is continuously reminding us of our imperfections and offer products to fix them so we can be happy. Because of my past experiences with my appearance and body image, I felt I needed to do something about it.
Being an artist, the best way I could think to do this was creating something that gives people permission and pride to be different. I wanted to empower others to celebrate who they really are and to set them free from conventional standards.
The idea of a clothing brand was born. A brand that honors diversity – the very fact that we are different and therefore unique – and allows people to feel authentic and express themselves with the clothes they are wearing. I started to paint by hand on T-shirts and Thinkover was born.