I told my therapist in a recent session that style is the only area of my life that has never given me anxiety. In twenty-three years, I never felt that egocentric tug towards assuming that people were judging me when it came to matters of the clothes on my body. Occasionally, like when I chose to cross gender barriers by wearing traditionally male clothing from the ages of eight to eleven, I had evidence to the contrary. And I really didn’t care.
That confidence I felt in what I was wearing gave me enough of a boost in other areas to make me think that it was what I wanted to pursue in life. Fashion was my introduction to so many things: workers' rights, feminism, gender identity, mental health, the list goes on. For that, I will be forever grateful. I will never take for granted the fact that I am able to personally express myself in the manner of my choosing without persecution each and every day. So many people don’t have that privilege.
However, at this point in my life I see fashion for what it was always meant to be for me: a venue for change. Working in fashion was never meant to be my end goal, despite the fact that for a long time it was. I don’t think of fashion as any less interesting, intellectual, valid, and life-changing as when I started writing about it in high school, but it is time to recognize a shift within my own personal direction.
As I get started on the next chapter of my life, I want to acknowledge all of the things that personal style did for me. I gained confidence. It was the first outlet of self-expression I knew and embraced. I got to know so many wonderful people through my small corner of the Internet.
But a funny thing started to happen a few months ago. Every time I would ask someone to help me take pictures, feelings of frustration and anxiety surged. I would be happy with what I was wearing, but change for photographs. I would try to craft outfits that weren’t representative of my true taste these days (comfortable, casual, androgynous-leaning) because I knew what was popular and what wasn’t. Things were really starting to come full circle for my style as I found the colors and cuts I was looking for in traditionally male markets. All of these things were hard to portray in the visual style that attracts me most when I took pictures alone, but I always hated asking my friends or boyfriend to take my pictures when I wanted the focus to just be on hanging out.
I also felt hollow when writing on the topic. I basically stopped shopping because I reached a point of satisfaction with my wardrobe and took a huge pay cut. I couldn’t seem to make anything that piqued even my interest, so why would it resonate with readers? I have a huge list of brainstorm topics that I want to write about, but very few of them have anything to do with fashion at this point. As soon as I allowed myself to stop posting here, my anxiety and cognitive dissonance noticeably decreased.
I wanted to make a formal announcement not because I assume I have some large scale readership that will be devastated but because not addressing the issue seemed like ghosting some good friends and seemed unprofessional. I will no longer be blogging about fashion or posting traditional outfit pictures on this blog. In the coming weeks, I will be closing off access to The Quiet Kind for good as I apply to opportunities outside of the fashion field. I will always be proud of what I accomplished with this platform and the friendships I forged along the way.
However, if you enjoy my writing style, I highly encourage you to keep an eye on my personal Twitter (@ashlynkittrell) for a mental health related project that will launch in January. I will continue to post on my Instagram, but it will be less about fashion and more about “real” life. I am always happy to help with style questions and self-confidence, so feel free to reach out to my professional email (firstname.lastname@example.org). You will be able to find my personal writing on my portfolio website (www.ashlynkittrell.com) as I will be migrating a few of my favorite pieces and continue to write on a blog there.
Thank you for each and every positive comment, for every click, for everyone who held my opinion in high enough esteem to keep reading here. I will continue to do written work. And although it won’t be chronicled for anyone else but me, I will continue to kick ass in the outfit department no matter what.
Your quietly kind friend,