Giving the gift of kindness

So, this was initially going to be a gift post, but I have decided against it. I rather use my platform to highlight an issue that is very important to me “BULLYING” As a child, I was teased and bullied. The experience has had an effect on me. I can not imagine what it must be like to be bullied in this age of technology. A component that children and adults are faced with now, which brings to mind recent accounts of bullying resulting in the suicides of 10-year-old Ashawnty Davis and 13-year-old Rosalie Avila.

Ashawnty Davis

Ashawnty Davis

Rosalie Avila

Rosalie Avila

In the past, I have posted content on social media thinking I was making a clever comeback to bullies who have posted toxic comments about me. In reflection, I realize that this response was bullying too, replying out of anger for my appearance being racially mocked. Two wrongs don’t make a right and I learned this year it’s truly best to ignore and walk away.

Bullies hurt people because they are hurt.  

As a way to kick off the New Year, I am working with and supporting two companies this holiday season:

Flexin' In My Complexion

Ten year old Kheris Rogers (yes ten years old) created Flexin’ In My Complexion, a tee shirt line which inspires African Americans to be confident and comfortable in their skin. Kheris was motivated by the fact she has long been bullied for her skin tone.  In elementary school, for example, white students and teachers discriminated against Kheris for her dark skin.  The racist taunting got so bad that her mom decided to transfer her to a different school — but the bullying still occurred. This time, from black students, who suggested Kheris’ darker skin shade made her less beautiful. Since launching  “Flexin In My Complexion” a few months ago Kheris has received praise from Alicia Keyes and featured her collection in two New York Fashion Week shows in September, making her the youngest designer ever!

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Kheris says “Going through that inspired me to begin Flexin’ In My Complexion because black comes in so many shades and they all are beautiful. What I want people to learn from my brand is that beauty has nothing to do with what is on the outside. What is on the inside is what counts.”

QUEEN!

QUEEN!

And then there is Ditch The Label

Ditch the Label is a digital charity, which means that most of their support is provided online through their website and partnerships with games and social networks. They have determined that 50 percent report having been bullied, 50 percent of those who had been bullied report being bullied about their appearance, 24 percent of those bullied said they had their private information shared online. Their mission statement:

“Each week, thousands of young people aged 12-25 benefit from our digital online support programs through our website and partnerships with online games and social networks. We operate the largest bullying support community in the world and have thousands of support guides and resources freely available.”

Since Ditch the Label uses social media as a way to combat cyber bullying, they have amassed several videos that speak to why bullying and how to respond to the bully. 

I am extremely grateful to see people/organizations doing the work through art and social media to help people in pain. I have included the go fund pages for the burials of Rosalie Avila https://www.gofundme.com/4sgnu88 and Ashanty David https://www.gofundme.com/ashawntys-way-out-no-bullying

I plan to continue to speak against bullying in 2018; and to encourage those individuals and organizations who have made it their mission to rid our society of this abomination. Please join me. 

xo

Kos

NYCC 2017 Recap!

An October tradition for my friends and me is attending New York Comic Con (NYCC).  This is a time when I, and my fellow geeks from the metro area, can escape reality for a few days! The merchandise and cosplays at this year’s New York Comic Con didn’t miss a beat.

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I dug The Big Lebowski and The Professional cosplays the most! Cosplayers dressing up as 90s movie icons? Oh the 90s nostalgia!

A few of my fellow geek gals participated in a ClulessXHarryPotter mashup (shouts to Chavon of Geeky & Creepy for the idea). It was awesome! Yes, that is me being the only Slytherin (a lovable Slytherin) in the group.  The blazer is killah, snagging it on Esty along with the Harry Potter Patch bag from Hot Topic.  I predict there will be more group cosplays in the future for me, including a repeat of this one :) 

ROLLCALL!   Che : Ravenclaw, Kos: Slytherin,  Arkieda : Ravenclaw,  Robyn : Gryffindor,  Isake : Ravenclaw, Christina: Gryffindor,  Akua : Ravenclaw

ROLLCALL! Che: Ravenclaw, Kos: Slytherin, Arkieda: Ravenclaw, Robyn: Gryffindor, Isake: Ravenclaw, Christina: Gryffindor, Akua: Ravenclaw

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AS IF!

AS IF!

Since I’ve been attending regional comic cons recently, I have become stoked about the panels!  Connecting with fellow geeks on topics that matter: mental health, diversity, and geek journalism, this year at NYCC they didn’t disappoint. A highlight for many was “Fashioning Fiction: The Aesthetics of Fantasy Worlds” panel, which included Geek Girl Brunch co-founder Yissel Ayala. Yissel along with 6 panelists broke down what makes fashion fantastical and how they find inspiration in the real world to clothe the denizens of their imaginary realms.

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Yissel is a visual merchandiser and has a BFA in Women’s Sportswear from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT Alum Woot Woot), she’s has been mentored by Carolina Herrera and studied knitwear at Politecnico Di Milano in Milan, Italy   

I had the opportunity to speak with YIssel after the panel, check it out:
O.C.O: What led you submit for the panel

Y.A: My friend and cheerleader Erica Shultz encouraged me. We'd gotten to know each other through me moderating her panels at New Jersey Comic Expo, so she knew I was beyond capable.  Actually, "encouraged," is an understatement.  She'd regularly e-mail and text me reminders to brainstorm ideas and the panel submission deadline. Ha! She really pushed for me to do this, and for that, I am forever grateful.  

Soon after, I visited my friend Melissa Grey to get her take and bounce ideas off of her over wine (like you do). I knew I had to do something around fashion. Around design  - A subject I'm passionate about, knowledgeable, have credibility in. But, what else? Well, I love books.... It was Melissa that suggested the aesthetics of fantasy worlds. It was pretty perfect. Here I was talking to my published author best friend, so I knew I'd at least have one guaranteed panelist onboard. 

I went home and drafted out some copy, came up with the name, "Fashioning Fiction", had Melissa reply to my e-mail with even better copy, sought out potential panelists with her help, and the panel was born. 

O.C.O: What did you want to teach/accomplish with the panel?

Y.A:  I wanted to talk about fashion for an hour without it becoming as superficial as red carpet coverage before a major awards show.  

When people think of literature, what words spring to mind? Smart. Profound. Classic. How does the average person view fashion? Is it fun? Well, you and I know that. But then there are people who think: "superficial," who don't realize that, "smart," "profound," and, "classic," are all terms that apply to fashion too. 

It was important for me to be able to celebrate fashion as a crucial world-building tool. So, I put a lot of thought and care into my questions and presentation as a whole. Through PowerPoint I created a visual narrative. I told an easy to follow story, first on Literature’s contributions to fashion, citing prominent literary works and designer achievements, which allowed me to dive into the heart of my panel, fashion's very necessary contribution to storytelling. My approach worked. It really fucking worked. 

O.C.O: How'd you come to know your panel mates?

Y.A: They're my friends, and friends of friends. I find already knowing someone makes asking them to be on your panel way easier!

O.C.O: If you could have a follow up panel to this one, what would it focus on?

Y.A: I think I may just do a round 2 of this panel, as I already have some interested parties. It's more than I could've hoped for.

I do like the idea of discussing the great style icons of literature and their influence on modern fashion. Maybe I'll attempt that at BookCon? We'll see!

Follow Yissel on Instagram and Twitter @Thedesignergeek

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As I left New York Comic Con, I could not help but notice the increased attendance from last year!  I learned later that attendance rose to over  200,000 to be exact!!  How awesome is that?!  New York Comic Con continues to get better and better.  I started going in 2013.  Each year I leave the con more confident, inspired, and creative. Until next year!

xo

Kos