Lani the Carni proudly identifies as “Quirky”, but really what do we mean by that? By definition, the term quirky refers to peculiarity or oddness as well as having unexpected traits or characteristics and none of this really sounds positive. This is just one of many societal flaws where historically everything outside the box, bell curve or anyone who rebels against the “shoulds” (by choice or not) is framed negatively. And what is even worse, is when these “shoulds” get so destructively skewed that the expectations that get placed upon ourselves for how we should be, look, think, act, speak and do that we don’t know our worth or believe that being authentic selves with our authentic truths is enough.
The truth is, I have never been a part of the fashion world. But like everyone I have heard it all – people being told they aren’t good enough, pretty enough or are too rough around the edges. Young people, male and female being judged so harshly they abuse themselves and their bodies. With so many headlines that judge lifestyle choices, body shapes, outfits as well as “sources” that spread rumours that couldn’t possibly be conducive to mental wellbeing, you have to wonder how we got here. What language are we using? How did our expectations get this unrealistic? Why is it, that differences (physical and mental) have been shameful when historically people who are different have quite literally caused revolutionary change?
This week I met one of the nicest women I have ever met. I had a business meeting set up and had only engaged in conversation via email. Through our virtual conversations, I could tell that she was funny, witty, and kind – definitely one of my people. Plus when she made a Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion reference that solidified for me what I already was sure of – I liked her even though I hadn’t met her.
When I arrived at the meeting, I greeted her. She was warm and friendly and just what I expected. But after saying “Hi” and “Nice to meet you”, I couldn’t believe what she said to me next.
Put down your coffee and take a moment to read my next sentence, then read it again and think about what responsibility as a society WE have on why this sentence came out of the mouth of a wonderful, intelligent human being.
“I am so sorry; I didn’t warn you about what I look like”.
Yep. That is what she said.
At first, I was confused. I legitimately couldn’t understand why it was relevant and what she thought I should have been expecting. And that word again – “SHOULD”. Should is rarely a constructive word. I articulated this to her to which she justified that she used to look different, but now she is in remission and her hair has grown back and that the medication changed the way she looked and she isn’t used to it. She also added that due to her physical appearance she has been treated badly and overlooked as a worthy human.
She got up to order coffee and that gave me a moment to process what I heard. She never used the word cancer, but remission, medication and hair loss are easy to read between the lines. I am also aware as the daughter of a cancer victim how dehumanising the disease is and how triggering the word can be to say out loud. And part of my sadness and confusion was that I felt like she should be celebrating that she is alive, breathing and healthy. Not justifying how she looks and why to essentially a stranger. And I have to ask myself, and everyone else – Whose fault is that?
When she came back, I told her that she must never apologise for who she is and her experience again. Regardless of people’s opinions on physical appearance – it is NEVER relevant.
So back to quirky and as a kid’s clothing brand why we celebrate it – to us quirky means anything that makes us shine as individuals. We reframe peculiarity, oddness and unexpected traits as gateways to progression, creativity and success. We see our stories and truths as pathways to our passions and authentic relationships and believe they need to be told. Nobody should ever be silenced or overlooked because they are weird – Quirkiness should spark curiosity and intrigue among society and seen as learning opportunities. Quirkiness IS a badge of honour, no matter what form it presents in.
Our quirky sweatshirt was based upon the passions of Lani who is a proud quirky girl – she is a true example of a person with differences that go outside societal norms that has flourished from understanding and embracing these human variations and knowing what her strengths are. So this sweatshirt is a tribute to this mindset and encouragement of pride for what makes us unique.
Please be #quirkylikelani always.