I’m in My Villain Era. Here Are 5 Ways I Achieve The Look & Lifestyle

Photo: Courtesy of Valentina Mejia.
Growing up, the word villain was always associated with negativity and evil. In films, the villain was the bad guy trying to take over the world. At church, it was the sinner who wanted to take me down to hell with them. And on the block, it was the law-breaking juvenile I was instructed to stay away from. Now that I have officially entered my villain era, I can see all the ways society used this label to reject people who broke away from social scripts, las problematicas, folks a lot like me.
As the eldest daughter in a Colombian Christian household, the familial pressure to do as I’m told and be perfect left little room for me to be, well, me. Being in my villain era isn't about me conceiving wicked plans in my dimly lit lair; instead, it's about setting boundaries, rejecting my propensity to people-please, and choosing myself, finally. 
As a young adult, all of my choices were influenced by my family before I could even figure out who I was. My hair, fashion, and beliefs were set for me, and if I deviated from the blueprint, I was judged and scorned. As a grungy Latina, this posed a problem. The rock, metal, and punk songs I enjoyed were considered “the devil’s music,” and for a while, I could only listen to it in secret. In those private moments, I envisioned myself as a rockstar, wearing the coolest leather jacket over my tattooed body. When my mom saw me obsess over Roberta from Rebelde, she reminded me that girls are not supposed to wear dark clothes or have colored hair; we're supposed to be dainty and soft. 

"Being in my villain era isn't about me conceiving wicked plans in my dimly lit lair; instead, it's about setting boundaries, rejecting my propensity to people-please, and choosing myself, finally."

Valentina Mejia 
Of course, with the sound of my favorite rebellious bands screaming in my ears, I never listened, but I still internalized shame every time my family criticized me. As an angsty teenager, all I wanted was their approval. Without it, we often clashed, arguing and exchanging petty back-and-forths. Years later, I’m tired. I’ve realized that I don’t require anyone’s validation. I can love and be loved without surrendering who I am. I’m done sacrificing my time, my energy, my joy, and my wellbeing. Once I began understanding my boundaries, expressing them, and not feeling guilty about them, I fully embraced my villain era.
Entering this stage of my life has been a game-changer. I did everything I was told I shouldn’t do: I dyed my hair black, got tattoos, started wearing thick eyeliner, and even changed my career path from medicine to sex education. Can you imagine my mother’s reaction? Trying to explain to her in Spanish that I teach students how to have sex safely and use sex toys wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. Sex remains taboo in Latine households, so being able to educate others on stigmatized topics has helped me unlearn shame as well. 
Being in my villain era doesn’t make me evil or contemptible. I’m not suddenly mean or immoral. Conversely, it gives me permission to be kind to myself, to create my own rules, and to confidently live and dress as boldly as I want. Now, I want to share my villainous ways with others. So, if you’re ready to enter your villain era and want to accompany the lifestyle with the aesthetic, here are my top five essentials for achieving it.
Photo: Courtesy of Valentina Mejia.

Start with dark hair. 

For me, if my hair doesn’t look good, I don’t feel good. To channel my inner rockstar, I like to color my hair a dark black every six to eight weeks, and it makes my hair look shiny and healthy. Recently, I cut my bangs and I have never felt better. Oftentimes, people avoid getting bangs because of the maintenance (totally get it!). But I’m able to rock bangs with little upkeep by pinning them up in a roller and keeping them clipped until I walk out of the house. Whether you prefer curtain bangs, baby bangs, or some wispy fringe, dark bangs scream villain. 

Wear thick eyeliner.

Growing up watching Skins, Effy Stonem’s iconic smudged eyeliner look was my biggest inspiration. I started practicing my winged eyeliner at the end of high school — and I’ve been doing it ever since. To me, nothing embodies sultry like a sharp, bold cat eye. After years of practice, I can accomplish the sharpest wing in seconds, which is helpful because it’s definitely a signature part of my villain-era look. 

Rock all black.

When I get ready to leave my house, my goal is to look like I just stepped out of “The Matrix.” Unsurprisingly, black garbs make up 95% of my closet. To me, black clothing makes me feel in control, and that is what being in my villain era is all about. In addition to black tops, bottoms, and dresses, I like to incorporate different staple pieces, like my oversized leather moto jacket or my long leather trench coat. If I’m not donning leather, I reach for velvet materials. It’s the perfect texture for a villainous look. These days, I match these textures with black long skirts, really channeling that ‘90s era rockera look.

Book an appointment at your favorite tattoo shop.

All my life, I have been told tattoos are masculine, unprofessional, and tacky. For the longest time, I refrained from getting inked because I was afraid I would not be able to get hired anywhere. But when I turned 21, I silenced society’s alarms, listened to my heart, and got my first tat: a woman holding the globe in her hands. It was a nod to my earth sign and a reminder that my world is in my hands, no one else’s. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked. Now, at 23, I have close to 20 tattoos. To me, these little pieces of art all over my body represent who I am as a person. Honestly, I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin. As someone who struggled with body image my entire life, getting tattoos has unlocked a newfound confidence that has only strengthened in my villain era. 

Finish your outfit off with platforms.

Nothing screams rebellious punk kid like a pair of Dr. Martens. I got my first pair at 14 years old, and they single-handedly changed my life. When I put them on for the first time, I instantly envisioned myself at a Maná concert, screaming “Me Vale” at the top of my lungs. Not only are Docs a classic shoe, but they last forever. Today, their platforms remain an essential part of my look. Adding a few inches of height, these platforms elevate every outfit and add the edgy touch I always look for. 

An extra tip: Do you!

At the end of the day, everyone’s villain era looks different. Some prefer red hair to black hair and heels instead of boots. That’s fine. Being in your villain era means rebelling against the rules and dressing and moving in ways that serve you. It’s not about throwing away one rulebook to follow another one that you didn’t write. The most villainous thing you can do is express your self-determination and validation — however that looks like for you.

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