Identifies as: Ari Fitz
It’s hard to find a style that really fits who you are when that isn’t reflected in mass media. How did you get to a place where the things you wore really reflected who you are and how you feel?
I'll always experiment with my personal style, so I'll never reach that "place." That said, the constant is that I now allow both sides of me, the masculine and feminine, to come alive and breathe through every outfit. It took time to find that balance. What matters most is putting something on and knowing that there's no comment, no insult, no jab that can change the way I feel about myself. As a perceived queer woman of color, it gets hard out there and people can be definitively ignorant. So, protecting myself through my style is how I manage.
Plus, you're right. I'm not reflected in media. People like me are not reflected in media. Part of why I started TOMBOYISH, (my androgynous style channel) was just that. I never see people who dress like me anywhere not on YouTube, not on TV, not anywhere. There are literally millions of beauty channels on YouTube and hundreds of millions of dollars invested into this industry and I'm pretty much the only one tackling androgynous beauty and fashion. That's strange AF. But that doesn't mean we don't exist. I get letters and emails and tweets and comments from people everywhere, queer and straight, who want more ambiguous, more genderless, less-restricting fashion. That's why I do it.
Why do you think it’s important to be out, how has increased visibility helped you feel comfortable?
Not sure I think it's important to "come out" at all. We're slowly moving away from a world where being definitive about the way you love and the way you identify is important. There's so much ambiguity in gender expression and romantic preference that explicitly saying anything is somewhat unnecessary to me. I don't have to call myself queer to be queer. I can just love openly and freely, and let that be that. The one thing I admire about a "coming out" experience is you typically find community through being explicit. Yet, we can do this in an even more inclusive way if we didn't require a name badge (e.g., the difference between "Hi I'm Ari, I'm a lesbian and I'm here to join the other lesbians," and "Hi, I'm Ari. I love people and wear androgynous clothing. What about you?").
Why is style important?
Getting dressed in the morning as a queer person is, unfortunately, like putting on armor and preparing for battle. The right outfit ensures you can take on anything that comes your way with please-try-me confidence.