I am not unlike a new corporation or business. My goal at age 23, nearly two years out of college, is
to "establish" myself, to finally ground myself in my goals and move forward from there, eager and
I remember my mother's and aunt's stiff jackets with power shoulders that cut through the air, the riff
raff, and the obstacles they would face as young Black women in a society trying to re-establish itself
as forgiving of faults and tolerant of others. I hold this ethos to be true today as I try to gain a foot hold
Power and confidence are fleeting but necessary. Post-college, I find them in a writing assignment,
a compliment from a friend, and strangely enough, the shoulders of my clothing, my "face-forward"
first impression in society. Last year, I purchased this linen beige blouse from a vintage store in the
Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. It is a pseudo-Victorian statement piece of unusual proportions.
A small button and a snap closure keep it in place. It cuts short in the front and fishtails in the back,
a mullet blouse for the millennial young woman. And the shoulders—thick, puff, and abnormal—announce their arrival.
To wear this blouse, one must know their place, and reject it. One must know their place, and know they
can and should move beyond it. What I'm saying is that this blouse gives me confidence; it pushes me
forward when I would otherwise choose what is safest and easiest. If I must find confidence in myself
and in a piece of clothing—literally just pieces of cloth stitched together to cover what is my only
true lifelong possession in the world—then so be it. This blouse and I are going places; good places, I