A few weeks ago, I had the honor of attending my best friend’s wedding. One of the most powerful aspects of this wedding was the constant centering of authenticity through fashion.
Authentic: of undisputed origin, genuine.
Both brides thought carefully, digging into their internal dreams, desires, and identities in order to create each breathtaking look. Every detail was intentional and worn like a beacon to their truest heart, their truest self.
Arhm, a cisgender female Korean-American teacher and writer, was raised within the dominant Korean and Korean-American culture that has strong restrictions around gender identity, gender expression, and sexuality. Yet she shined in her long sought after and fought for self-confidence. It was as if her suit wore her, proud to aid in supporting her on her wedding day. Arhm had this suit custom made for her and it showed. Arhm, with the help of her trusted advisor Zoe, had planned out each pocket, hem, and button.
Alyson is a white cisgender female who works as a college administrator and writer. Alyson has worked diligently to find comfort in her truth amongst the rampant homophobia in our world. She is a strong woman, committed to honoring her fellow female-identified community through her work and writing. Alyson’s elegant and streamlined wedding dress accentuated her posture of strength and poise; yet she was vulnerable in her simplicity. Alyson wore a necklace of lapis lazuli that had been fashioned into the shape of a crystal or a stake. Lapis Lazuli’s “deep, celestial blue remains the symbol of royalty and honor, gods and power, spirit and vision.”* This necklace was both a tool of protection and an organic product of the Earth, a message that said, if we open our hearts to the truest love, we can return to our core.
Spoons and feathers accompanied the symbolism of the day. Their wedding website explained these symbols, stating that “Spoons have always been something Arhm has collected over the years, symbolizing her ability to fortify and care for herself and those she loves.” They explained, “we are incorporating this symbol into our special day as a way of keeping this goal and gift of nourishment central to our lives.” Additionally, “feathers have always been important to Alyson as a reminder of her connection to the women in her soul circle, both to the long line of women who came before her, those who fought for her rights, lived the everyday acts of resistance and change in their lives, bore what they were asked to bear, and the women who have inspired her, lifted her, and raised her with their loving acts — she knows they did so with invisible wings.” They described that, “incorporating feathers into our day is a way of making present every act of grace that has lifted Alyson to this moment of communion; which is a miracle for her in so many ways.”
The brides chose blue, in any shade, as the color scheme for both of their wedding parties. Each member of the brides’ closest community showed up in full ride or die sentiment. It was as if an imposing wave of protection, love, and support stood quietly to the side of each bride as they exchanged vows and made their commitments.
Arhm wrote to me once that “my sort of freedom looks like being able to have a relationship with someone on our own terms, not based on expectations or social mores, but what fits us the most.” And that is exactly what lies before us.
This was a wedding of two unique women working to unburden their love of the pressures and fear that sadly exist in our world. It is an immense privilege to be able to wed. But the thing is, if you want it, you deserve it. Every human deserves to love and be loved. Arhm and Alyson are a model for a love that looks like freedom. A love that tears down all that stands against it.
At Kostüm, we pride ourselves on the customer service we provide. We strive to greet each person where they are at, whether it is in a rush to find a silk purple camisole or the floor length black gown of their dreams. First, we like to get to know our customers, or Kostümers, as we call them. We want to know you, see you, and validate your identities as they wish to be expressed through fashion. The world of fashion can be oppressive, centering the bodies and expectations of the most privileged in our society. We hope to act as a resistance to that oppressive structure by making each Kostümer feel comfortable in our brick and mortar business and seen in our social media presence. Whether you are planning for your wedding, your quinceañera, or your 9-5 job, we strive to help you express your authentic style through the art of fashion.
My name is Erin Wolf. I am the Social Marketing and Brand Communications Coordinator for Kostüm. I have the immense privilege of working for Tamera Duckett, an African American woman, who owns Kostüm with her German husband Robert Spreitzenbarth. Working for and supporting a business owned by a woman of color is a deliberate passion of mine. This post was written from my perspective as a queer, white, and cisgender female.
All photographs were taken by and are the property of KNM Portraits.
Mother’s Day is just around the corner. And while we at Kostum will be celebrating this holiday, we believe it is incredibly important to look through a social justice lens to think critically about what motherhood and the word mother means to all of the unique people in our community.
Often, the mainstream narrative of motherhood is commercialized, white, straight, and cisgendered. But when we look at the broad range of what motherhood can look like it becomes a lot less shiny and packaged and more gritty, creative, inspiring, and intersectional.
Now, no person can claim that their mother was perfect. Each mother is a human being, full of their own experiences, traumas, wishes, goals, and challenges. Some people may have an extremely conflicted relationship with their mother. Some individuals have never met their birth mother. Many folks may have multiple people whom they identify as their mothers. And still, Mother’s Day or discussions of motherhood may be triggering to some.
What we wish to celebrate, is the desire to reach the goal of mother as a verb: to be the mother of; give origin or rise to.
For motherhood cannot be nailed down as one single image or quote for a Hallmark card. To mother is the ongoing action of bringing something into life. Of striving to support another living being, or as many artists may feel, a creative project.
How we define and understand the seemingly inherent qualities of a mother looks different depending upon your perspective and your intersectional identities. Some women must engage in the process of being a mother from within detention centers. Their motherhood is no less valid. Some mothers make the decision to place their children up for adoption in hopes of providing that child with a better life. Their motherhood is no less valid. Some mothers do not give birth in the traditional sense. Their motherhood is no less valid. Transwomen and gender nonconforming folks, we see you. Your motherhood is valid.
For Mother’s Day 2017, we celebrate the efforts of those who identify themselves as mothers. The moments in which you feel you have failed and the moments in which you have succeeded. We celebrate you as an individual human with many qualities and passions outside of your identity as a mother.
For Mother’s Day 2017, we honor the mothers who have lost their children to police-sanctioned violence, poverty, and the wide-spread effects of racism and transphobia in this country. We honor the strength in you as you tirelessly fight for justice. We stand at your side. We will amplify your voices. To donate to the Jordan Edwards Fund click here.
All images from https://mamasday.org. Check out their incredible Mama’s Day cards which honors the infinite ways motherhood can look.