XOTV WEEKLY: Where STEM and Fashion Meet
Growing up in an immigrant household as the eldest daughter I often heard “Are you going to school or a fashion show?” whenever I would dress up before heading out to school. My parents value education above anything else and saw hobbies such as makeup and fashion as distractions to my education. However, I saw these hobbies as outlets for my creativity because I didn’t have the time to pour my heart into my other hobbies such as painting, drawing, etc. Makeup and fashion were outlets that were easy for me to partake in while balancing my busy school life. After a long day of school, extracurriculars, and homework I would unwind by watching makeup tutorials or styling videos from some of my favorite YouTubers. Seeing these women channel their creativity into their looks inspired me to do the same.
My journey in fashion and makeup started when I was a sophomore in high school and continues to evolve with each passing year. Now as a senior in college, I feel more confident than ever in my style. This wasn’t an easy journey for me at all; I had arguments with my parents since they felt like my focus was being taken away from my education. Alongside these arguments, I suffered from major self-esteem issues. Growing up in America as a young American-Pakistani Muslim I never felt beautiful enough according to society’s standards. Plus, it was difficult for me to combine modesty into my fashion as well. There were many times where I looked like a character from an early 2000s Disney show with my colorful leggings, bedazzled cardigans, and printed tunics. However, discovering Muslim and Desi influencers online and other platforms allowed me to see that women who looked like me can flourish in their beauty.
One of my most notable memories is watching KaurBeauty. Her channel has videos ranging from makeup tutorials and how to get an amazing score on the MCAT. Seeing her combine her passion for medicine with makeup and fashion inspired me to do the same in my own life. I am not a YouTuber or influencer by any means but I am focusing on inspiring myself. I utilize various social media platforms as a creative outlet for me to share how I view the world with others. Curating content for these platforms has been the way that I have been able to grow my sense of style and empower myself.
Incorporating Fashion within STEM
Within STEM, I have observed and experienced times when a woman is embracing her femininity and people assume she is not very smart or does not take her education/career seriously. Since the STEM field is very male-dominated this view is very prevalent within classrooms and work environments. When I was in high school, a classmate of mine was seen as unintelligent because she asked many questions in class, loved makeup, and always had her hair styled perfectly. After knowing her for a few weeks, I realized that she was one of the smartest people in my class. She asked a multitude of questions to help enhance her understanding of new concepts and make it easier for her to study them by herself. As time passed, others within our class noticed her intelligence and discarded their previously held biases about her based on her appearance and actions. It is pitiful that women have to prove themselves so hard within if they are taking classes or pursuing a career in STEM. My peer’s experience in high school led me to not embrace my femininity as much as I had wanted to.
However, once I entered college, I simply mastered the art of not caring about what anyone thinks about me. I embraced my sense of style and worked hard to create a space of fashion that allows me to feel confident and express myself. In my opinion, the most vital rule to embracing fashion is not adhering to whatever is trending but adhering to what makes you feel like the best version of yourself. If you feel like the best version of yourself then no one can make you feel bad about your sense of style regardless of the setting you’re in. This statement does not hold if certain attire is required in professional settings, but it pertains to settings that do not require any specific dress codes.
Once I understood what my sense of style was, I created visual boards via Pinterest that would allow me to culminate my ideas together. This allowed me to save money as I shopped for clothes because I had a clear vision for what look I wanted to create or what pieces I was looking for. This allowed me to buy clothes or accessories that matched what I already owned. Now, because I can put together outfits I love and feel good in; I can confidently embrace who I am and what my style consists of.
About the Author:
Zahab Aleezada is in the fourth year of her undergraduate degree. She studies neuroscience and is minoring in Spanish and Chemistry. She is passionate about food, Pakistani culture, fashion, and traveling. She is always looking for the next adventure but with COVID occurring she's learned to appreciate the smaller things in life.