When I was 14 years old leopard print made a powerful domination of my wardrobe. As a newly established high school student, I specifically recall scavenging the clothing racks for all things animal print. I opted for the highest heels, the shortest skirts and the most alluring leopard dresses in an attempt to create an individualized identity and stand out from the pool of girls trying to do the exact same. At 14, I believed fearlessness was my greatest asset and looking back at what appears excessive now, animal-print-everything seemed to perfectly represent my desire for freedom.
Four years down the line and as my high school years slowly slipped through my fingers, the leopard print dresses seemingly made their way to the back of my closet. As I matured, I realized the recklessness that leopard print portrayed was not necessarily me anymore. As I packed up my life into suitcases and totes for University, I came across the stash of animal-print-somethings hiding in a place I had almost completely forgotten. I meticulously folded them up one by one, tied them away in suffocating plastic bags and donated them in my extreme attempt to discard the remnants of my high school self. In my alleged newfound maturity, sensible neutrals seeped their way into becoming the bulk of my subdued outfit decisions. Animal print seemed a naive choice of the past and along with that came a streamlined sense of self to the point of being a cliched replica of every other girl on campus.
At 21, I can blissfully say that I am cultivating animal print once again. 7 years later, leopard is not only a nostalgic reminder of my juvenile vivacity but also represents a portion of myself that longingly smiles back at the days when I was completely fearless. I guess I’ve discovered it’s not all or nothing. It’s completely possible to find a piece that cultivates mature pragmatics with a loafer design yet allows an individuality to shine through in a bold print. Perhaps the fearlessness we craved at 14 doesn’t have to be an indelible memory of the past, but rather a fond reminder to never allow our unique spark to be extinguished.
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