Nhakia Outland (she/her/hers) is the founder of Prevention Meets Fashion Inc. She is a Black, queer, single mother of three. She is a social worker, sex educator, sex therapist in training and professor at Temple University with an extensive background in advocacy, consulting and community organizing who is passionate about finding creative ways to engage Black, LGBTIA+ communities. Nhakia’s work focuses on addressing stigma and inequalities in sexual health and reproductive health (SRH) through fashion, advocacy, community and education (F.A.C.E).
This episode we explore
The impact affirming clothing can have on mental health
Finding and celebrating your aesthetic
The connection between sexual health and fashion
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Body Liberation for All. I'm your host, Dalia Kinsey holistic registered dietitian and author of Decolonizing Wellness.
This show and my work overall is dedicated to amplifying the health and happiness of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people.
Today we're joined by Nhakia Outland. The founder of Prevention Meets Fashion. She's a black queer, single mother of three. She's a social worker, sex educator, sex therapist in training, and a professor at Temple University with an extensive background in advocacy consulting and community organizing. She's passionate about finding creative ways to engage Black, LGBTQ+ communities.
Nhakia's work focuses on addressing stigma and inequalities in sexual health and reproductive health through fashion advocacy, community, and education.
Nhakia and I had this conversation quite a while ago, so I'm excited to be able to bring it to you today. At the time of the episode was recorded the website for Prevention Meets Fashion wasn’t up but now it is. So you can see that in the show notes and check out the events calendar. I love that the condom streetwear fashion show is an annual event.
Nhakia has a lot of fabulous things going on through this nonprofit. And it was really interesting to hear about her creative process and what brought her to form the nonprofit.
Before we jump into that conversation. I want to remind you that I will be hosting my first in-person retreat in Bali next March, that's March 2023. If you're hearing this and it's pre March, 2023, there may still be space. So be sure check out daliakinsey.com/retreat to see the details.
It’s going to be an amazing event. As always it will be centered on LGBTQIA+ BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). However, if you are not an LGBTQIA+ BIPOC person, that doesn't mean that you can't come to the retreat.
There will be a couple of healing circle events. That'll be sacred spaces for QTBIPOC folks. So those will not be events where everybody can come in and take up space. However, there will be plenty of other events that are for everyone. So if you were interested in taking a more liberatory approach to your wellness and you've done a lot of work on your own and you feel like this could be a catalyst for your growth then definitely check it out.
It isn't going to be a beginner oriented event as far as healing work goes. If you've never done therapy, if you've never, read a self-help book, if you've never been in any sort of coaching situation and you're kind of new to the concept of systemic oppression having an impact on your wellness, then it's probably not the place for you to start.
The retreat really is designed for people who already have an awareness of these things and are wanting to dig deeper and really wanting to be in a space where they can totally unwind and focus on the physical experience of comfort and freedom in their body. So that it's something we'll be able to re-create with ease when we get back home.
The facilities are gorgeous. We'll have a chef cooking for us three meals a day. There are lots of excursions planned. We’ll have one-on-one time with a Balinese healer. There will be massages. It's going to be really luxurious, but then at the same time, a little crunchy, which is totally my vibe. We’ll have a touch of the outdoors. We'll be in an eco-friendly setting, but then at the same time, we're going to have access to all of our creature comforts.
It’s going to be great. If you can join us, you absolutely should. Go to daliakinsey.com/retreat to reserve your spot.
Alright, let's get on into this conversation.
Body Liberation for All Theme
Yeah. They might try to put you in a box, tell them that you don't accept when the world is tripping out tell them that you love yourself. Hey, Hey, smile on them live your life just like you like it is.
It’s your party negativity is not invited. For my queer folks, for my trans, people of color, let your voice be heard. Look in the mirror and say that it's time to put me first. You born to win. Head up high with confidence. This show is for everyone. So, I thank you for tuning in. Let's go.
My name is Nhakia Outland. I am the founder and president of Prevention Meets Fashion Incorporated. We are a 501C3 nonprofit based in Philadelphia, but we will go anywhere. And our mission is to increase sexual health and knowledge in communities of color Black, LGBTQIA and nonbinary communities through fashion advocacy, community education, which stands for FACE. It is a model that I created to be able to look at the intersections of sexual health, reproductive health, racial injustice, disability rights all of these other what I call social determines of health as well into one model, instead of just naming them all the time.
We look at the intersections of how many of those can be placed in fashion. How any of those could be placed in advocacy and in community and education, which to our advantage came out as face, which is a ballroom category. Which we're very excited about because my favorite category in ballroom is face.
I just love when the community comes out and shines that way like, it seems like nothing else matters, but that person's face. And to see that in community that's really been, you know, hurt so many times again and again especially Black LGBTQ folks that just lights my world up when I go to ballroom competitions.
But yes, I'm so excited to finally be a nonprofit. What a lot of people don't know is that we've actually been around for four years. Once I really started getting into the nitty gritty of Prevention Meets Fashion, I realized that it would, it would be so much better in a nonprofit structure to be able to open ourselves to getting grants, to getting more support to writing more curriculum and programming. So a lot of folks that follow us on Instagram and they just, you know, sometimes think that we just post, but that's the labor of love of hours of research putting snippets together to have those words in the little, in the little caption.
I actually take the time my interns take the time my volunteers take the time to research things, to make sure that we're getting our perspective right.
To make sure that we're getting voices heard. On our Instagram, we take it very seriously, I once said when I started this, that to me, that Instagram is just not a place for us to post pretty pictures it really is more than that for us.
I remember when I first started, I talked about how I used fashion come out to my family over a certain, a number of years as queer.
And I showed a picture of when I got my hair shaved on one side and how freeing that was to me for many aspects for one, I had just lost my partner.
So you weren't a kid, you were an adult living outside of the home.
Yes. And so I had just lost my partner and, you know so when I had shaved the side of my head, it was a freeing moment. Not only for me verbalizing my queer identity, but also that that I was shedding something that reminded me of my partner, cause they always liked my hair.
So I was talking about that and someone took my whole face, whole caption, put it on there, their Instagram and people were tagging me like this is your face.
And I'm like, do you know that I'm a real person? And they literally were using it. The message was correct. I think before that, but I'm a real person like you use my whole face and my whole story.
Was this person, a member of the community?
Yes! This person was a member of the community and a fellow, a sex educator. And this was not the first time that they did this. They actually. Took other posts and I had to call him out on it, you know, and I don't what to do that, but at least give me my credit, especially when it's my face. So I stopped a little bit from actually using my images. And the purpose of me using my images, was one, for people to know that I'm a real person, but for, two to show representation to y'all queer Black folks out there that that don't get seen as much.
And to let them know that, you know, we're here, we're in every profession. You know, come and visit us, you know, and as I was like, really taken back by this, so I stopped showing my image for a while, but then the pandemic happened and people were, were like, you know, I don't think people know that you're Black owned or queer owned at all because you don't have no pictures of yourself anymore.
So I began posting pictures of myself, again, posting pictures of my interns, posting pictures of my community stuff that I was doing. I do admit that I am a little bit shy and I don't give myself enough credit with Prevention Meets Fashion
I'm a social worker by trade and I decided to take everything, all of my experience and I absolutely adore the meaning behind fashion. And how has been used in black communities. How is being used in queer communities? Oftentimes when our voices were silenced, our clothes were loud.
Interesting that you made the point though, that people don't understand how damaging it is to a small creator, small business to steal ideas, but that is the story of the Black creative's life. Like that's the story of small queer businesses. Cause you think about all the ways in which queer folks, especially queer folks of color lead the way with culture and with fashion.
And how often is that stolen? And the original designer creator doesn't ever see the profits that come from their original baby, their original idea.
And I, I struggled too, along the lines, just to piggyback off of that. I struggle with the Black designers who have made it.
And a lot of them, you listen to a lot of them speak and how they built this from the ground up. And then they make it sort of speak and then they give credit to the Italian designer. So the white designer, oh, about what's underneath their fish and house. Then my name wouldn't be out here. The same thing with music.
Like why do we feel like we have to partner with someone that don't look like us to make us big. Right. And I struggle with it.
Can you speak to that? Because I've seen that issue even in myself, even as I've decided to center my show, to center my work around my queer identity and my POC identity, I still find myself being drawn when people like dangle something in front of me, that's not serving the community that I believe I'm meant to serve and I'm called to serve. I still feel like, oh, it's a shiny object because I, like so many people, was raised to think proximity to whiteness is proximity to success. And even though, especially the way things are shifting now, we definitely don't need them.
People need us, but because we're the ones who've been socialized to believe the opposite, we keep falling for it. So what do you do when you see that in yourself? Is that something that can only be addressed on a systemic level? Where you never affected by that?
I think I would be lying if I say I wasn't affected by that. Even if you look at my identity as a social worker, right. I was trained as a social worker, a lot of the curriculum is based on white supremacist thoughts and ideas and racism. And it wasn't until last year that I found out that there is a whole curriculum around African centered social work. I've been a social worker for over 15 years and I never, ever outside of the Black NASW (The National Association of Black Social Workers), I never knew it was a social work curriculum around African centered and how to work with Black and African community.
And so I started taking those courses and webinars during the pandemic to help myself unlearn the white supremacist culture and ideologies, that I was perpetuating, you know. The whole fact that white supremacy culture values, individualism, right? And then you make it and worry about everything else later. For Black community and Black queer communities, what’s innate to us is to have a village behind us, but yet I was pushing back on this because it's like, I was conditioned and raised to you're an individual. We get on the young rappers, these young kids when they make it and they bring their village with them. Yes. It's some folks that you don't necessarily need to bring with you and that's a different story, but the fact that we get on known for bringing their community with them, that's something that's innate to them and they don't know it.
You know? I was even talking about how we was taught to look at pouring liquor out as being something bad. Right. And it wasn't until I started really looking into our culture that we did this historically, we did this to our ancestors. We do that when we do libations right. I've even looked into fashion and, and death and how cultures around the world use fashion to symbolize death and how our young folks do that with t-shirts.
Right? So the t-shirts is so much more powerful. And I, I talked about this on my Instagram and how a t-shirt is not just a t-shirt. It has a lot of social justice and a lot of racism behind the t-shirt. Because if you think about it, t-shirts were made out of cotton Black folks pick the cotton, what Black folks couldn't afford to have the whitest of the white.
So when you could afford the whitest of the white, you know, it was valued. So you, you didn't go outside, you didn't get dirty. And those, you know, those was your Sunday's best. That was for you dressing up to put on this image that we're not poor, that we're not these feeble-minded people, that people, that don't look like us, that we were.
So if you look at that today, think about how we get dressed up to go to work. Think about how we get dressed up to go in, in town. You know, all of those things, whether it be young folks or either of us know that we're doing it, it has historical roots and that's what we want to bring to Prevention Meets Fashion.
And we really want folks to understand that fashion is not frivolous. It means a lot. And to look at it as such is doing it a disservice, you know us wanting nice things comes from a historical racist background, you know, we want it, our parents, our grandparents, our great, great grandparents wanted us to have nice things.
Nice things meant something.
I don't know if you've had a chance to visit the African-American history museum in DC. So there's the way they've got it set up. It's basically, you start out at the lowest/roughest points in Black American history. And then as you go up in the building, you know, we bounce back. So you're like traumatized at the start. Then they have this resting area it's really pretty where people break down, you know, there's water flowing where you can just relax and recover and then you continue on up and you get to where people are clearly developing their own culture, which is a blend of who we were before we were brought to the United States and who we became here.
And there's this big section on fashion after the civil war, among Black Americans being so incredibly important as not just a status marker, but part of that desire to prove and validate your humanity through things that people can see as soon as they look at you.
So part of that was definitely beautiful when you think about the intentions behind it, but then heartbreaking when you think about how many of us internalize that belief that we have to prove and validate our humanity instead of just letting white supremacy be a white supremacist problem. But it really explains why that's such a big part of Black American culture to be well-dressed and why we still give people the side eye when they come to church and holey jeans and flip flops, how that's like beyond most Black folks comprehension, but you see it all the time and white American churches, but they don't have to validate their humanity.
So they don't have that same tradition of you need to try and wear your status markers.
Last month on the 20th, we had our annual fashion condom show and our theme was Wearing Social Justice. And so we had the designers who are novice designers from the community. Everything that we do at Prevention Meets Fashion is community based and community led.
And so we had these designers and we wanted to see their interpretations of wearing social justice. So folks picked to do condom designs as bell-bottoms condom designs as denim, as pocketbooks that resembled like the disco ball for music and the best in hair, because, you know, right now we're going through hair discrimination laws, and in Pennsylvania, they still haven't signed on to the Crown Act.
And so it was amazing.
What is that? I don't think I know about that.
So the Crown Act is a bill that is trying to get passed in each state to ban hair discrimination among black folk. So the right to wear our own hair. So we have to get a law to have to be able to on hair and to be able to close this out that we created for creativity, for style or survival, we have to have a law to be able to do that.
Wow. I mean, I knew that that was needed. I didn't think we were anywhere near that point. So I didn't even know because you see, I have my hair dreaded, but I live in a very black area and a lot of the stigma has fallen away. But I know when I first dreaded my hair, people still told me, oh, you won't ever be able to get a job with your hair dreaded.
But I actually told HR I was doing it before I did it, which is ridiculous that I would have to, because it's such a natural style, but it was never an issue. But everyone around me kept saying it would be. And that wasn't because they were paranoid. That was based on real experiences they had.
Yeah. And, and like what you said, like unpacking what you said about you having to go to HR to see if you could lock your hair. And I don't ever think I’ve heard of a conversation where someone that wasn't black had to go to HR and say, can I dye my hair blonde? We think about things like that.
I remember when I first started coloring my hair, which I was well into my career. I've always wanted to color my hair, but that held me back because I needed a job. You know, I had kids I needed to provide for myself when I got to this point in my life where I just said F it, like, I want to color my hair.
So I went to the extreme, the first thing I did was dye my hair blue, and then it went to green and then it went to blonde. I was affirmed at my job because it's an LGBTQ organization, but I don't think if I would've stayed in counseling, that would have been appropriate. Right.
And I don't know if I would have been as happy because that's the way I express myself through my hair. I express myself through my clothes. So those jobs where I had to wear suits and shoes all day, I just couldn't do it.
I really couldn't like I have no problem wearing a suit but I want to put on sneakers with it, you know, on a platform with it. Or I want to wear a military boot. I don't want to have to, to look at or to appear as people think women identifying folks should
Yes. Well, and that's a whole nother layer. I think with identity and clothing is if you don't identify in this super binary way that. It creates even more anxiety for you to be in work environments that are really rigid about how they want people to dress, because it's an important, maybe to some people it's not important at all. But to me, even the fact that I've really like plain clothes is a big part of my identity.
It required some level of awarenesst about how much I detested dresses to get to this plain point that we're at right now. This was a process. So in your experience professionally, how much does the stress of having to dress in ways that don't suit you? How negative of an impact can that have on people?
Well, it definitely could have a negative impact on your mental health. I mean, it does have an impact on your mental health, right? Because I think we throw around a term if you look good, you feel good a lot, but it's actually true. It's actually when you look good and feel good, it's actually science behind it and the endorphins and everything that's in your, that feel good in your body.
It increases it. You know? I know that when, you know, my eyebrows are not done or my hair not done, I feel completely down and you can tell in my clothes because I dress that way as well. And then when I get my eyebrows done, I feel like everything is better.
It definitely has a connection. And I've talked about it numerous times on our Instagram and in person. And so, so even like what you said, even the folks who get up and don't want to iron and just throw something on you're intentionally thinking whether you realize it or not, that's your aesthetic, you're intentionally doing that.
That's what you like to wear, you know? So I, I really don't like when folks say, they can't dress. Some folks dress to what they think they should be dressing like or what someone told them, they look nice in and then they keep repeating it over and over. Instead of looking inside and figuring out what do I like, what do I look nice in and taking that component and then building upon it.
So, what we want to teach people to do is what, first off, like what, what makes you feel good? Let's start there, right? Don't look in this magazine or social media or whatever you're looking at. And, and copy someone else's feel-good outfit because most of the time that's a stylist put that on that person.
They might not even like what they, what they put on a stylist, put that on them. Right. So what makes you feel good? And let's build upon that. And this is your look. There is no one way to be or dress queer. And I think when we Google, how to dress queer, you get white, skinny folks, you know, you don't get, or if you do get a Black image is always us in this masc of center look right.
You don't get that androgynous type person. And I consider my aesthetic very androgynous and athletic. You don't get that. I'm a chameleon, my clothes you will get anything from super sexy to super athletic wear. And I merge them somehow because that's me, you know, but it took me years to figure that out.
It took me years to be comfortable with it.
Tell me more about your journey to this point, because I know for a lot of people, fashion is so problematic because it's been linked to promoting only one body type as attractive. Promoting a lot of classism and a lot of fixation on really just keeping the fashion machine going.
So we think about fast fashion and there was a time in US history where it would have been normal to get clothes from someone who made them in the community. And these would be clothes that would last you a very long time. They were probably cut to fit your particular body, the way you wanted it to fit.
And you could wear it for years. Whereas now you see a lot of manipulation in the marketing to push people to say, this is what you should be wearing right now. And it just doesn't feel like a good place to a lot of people when it comes to self-expression. So what was your journey like with your relationship with fashion and when did you see the connection between your social work and the sexual health background that you have and what you're doing now?
My connection to fashion began early on. My parents were military parents. And so when they got out the military and I was old enough to be able to look at things and, and see and understand their military background, we would look in these huge photo albums. And I would just like adore my mom and like her bell bottoms and her afro, I have finer hair, as you can see really loose wave, like type thing.
My mom has really coarse hair. I always envy not being able to have an Afro, I've never had that type of hair, like, you know? And so and I joke my dad doesn't have hair anymore, but my mom, like, you have his side of the family hair.
And so I'm like, okay. I grew up looking at these photo albums and looking at my mom and bell bottoms and, you know, clogs and artists other stuff. So I would like, I immediately gravitated towards all of that because of course I wanted to look like my mom. But slowly but surely my mom took this to the extreme and started putting me in girly, girly stuff.
Like, you know, all the lace and everything was one color. And I rebelled. And so she started taking me to the store and like, what do you want? And I'm very close to my brother. And so I'm like, I want to look like my brother. And so I would pick out sweatpants and like a real big shirt and I had body self-conscious issues. I didn't realize until I got older, like why boys and men like, now I know that they were sexualizing me.
So I didn't like that attention. I started putting on baggier clothes, but yet I would still put on a heel. So I would wear the baggy, this is the style you see now I did back in the nineties. Right. And so I didn't see that it's a Mary J came out and I literally broke down and cry because I was like, here's this woman who was like wearing baggy jeans, wearing baggy shirts. But people still liked her.
I didn't even think of that as a turning point, but yeah. Now that you say it, that totally resonates.
So, you know, it was first that Little Kim stage, that overly sexy stage. I went through that and my mom allowed me to, like, I credit my mom a lot for allowing me to, to develop who I am today. Overtime. I, again, I started coming into my fashion aesthetic, which obviously I went back to the athletic wear. But as I was developing, that was where I was leaning towards. And it was this point in my life where I know I started realizing that I was attracted to other genders other than the opposite gender.
I didn't really act on it when I was younger. Because Me wearing the sweatpants and shirts. Like I remember the first time someone called me a dyke and I cried. So I stopped dressing like that and went overly sexy again.
Right. Totally not me. And I was trying so hard.
And that was even before you started noticing that you were also attracted to women. Oh, that's interesting.
And so then, you know, it was my brother who was like, you know, stop this, you know, he's younger a year younger than me. He's like, stop this. You be you.
Like, so what, like, if they call you a dyke, you be the best dyke. it doesn't even matter. Like you, you be, you, you don't, you don't change for no one else. You don't do you. You dress the way you want to dress. So then, you know, I started dialing down the bagginess and came to a happy medium.
But over that time, I started realizing that I was using my fashion to come out. I was using my fashion to display my mood. Fashion would actually help my mood. I was really depressed when I was younger.
I was a teen mom twice, but when I became a mom at 17, of course, that dialed back because now I had to put that money into my child. And I remember friends that went to high school with me was like oh, she fell off, you know, I knew it wasn't going to last, like, it was almost like they was waiting for it to like, I knew that wasn't going to dress this way anymore.
You know, now she's a mom and I'm like, no, it's the opposite. I could still afford it, but is it worth it? You know, my priorities started to shift now it was on to my two children that I had to raise. Right. And so it wasn't that I fell off.
I grew up. I think folks they grow up at their own. And so when I see folks spending all this money on stuff and making them happy,I'm like, do you, who cares what anyone else is saying? You want to spend $400 on a belt spend it, you know, but just make sure that your priorities, they're straight as well.
As a social worker, how do you tell the difference between a maladaptive coping mechanism that is hurting the person and they probably actually need something else, something more sustainable and something that just, it doesn't hurt, you know, or it really is something that brings them joy? How do you recognize the difference in yourself even?
I mean, well, of course I did self-assessment but for clients, I do a little assessment. Right. And I don't shame them. I remember it was this client who, and I just told this story, but I remember it was a client who just got diagnosed with HIV. I remembered this and she was a young mother, had three cute little boys and she was living in an abandoned minivan and she just wanted to keep buying her sons these Jordans.
And of course Jordan's are a hundred dollars to, depending on the size of your feet, a piece. So she was spending close to $500 every couple of months or sneakers, but yet living in abandoned minivan. And so I didn't shame her for it, but when she came in, I, you know, I said, oh, those are really nice sneakers, but what would that look like if you had took just a hundred dollars a day and went to the sneaker store and let's say for some Nike, some $40 Nike's for each of your kids or target some light up sneakers.
Cause they were little. What would that have looked like? And then save the rest for you to be able to get a hotel room. So you can have all your kids in one space or save up to get an apartment so that you can have running water and heat. What would that have looked like? So I challenged this client without shaming them to look at how they were spending their money.
Yes. That made you feel good because you needed that you needed to feel good about your situation that you was in. So it made you feel good to be able to buy your kids, these sneakers, to be able to have your kids look like other kids, but in the interim, you were hurting yourself and you were hurting your kids because you really didn't have it.
And so I take approaches like that with clients, especially when they use fashion as a coping tool. Fashion does not solve everything. You can put on a million dollars worth of clothes and still be sad and depressed or hate your body. We need to fix that. And then you can add those other layers on for some folks, you know, clothing protects them, but that protection is temporary.
When you take that off, then what you just, you, you have to be satisfied with who you're looking at in a mirror. So it is definitely as much deeper, you know, and so through that we created our Affirming Fashion program, which is a program where we give clients clothing on emergency basis.
So we don't have an income threshold or anything. If you need clothing, you need clothing, and if we have it, we're going to give it to you. We also do groups about affirming fashion and surveys to get the community feel on what affirms you. You know, we have a lot of gender non-conforming non-binary folks that follow us and it's affirming to them to have fashion that affirms their identity.
And so we want to do that. We want to be this resource. So we, we definitely talk about how fashion is affirming, how fashion is self-care and how fashion is more than a look at Prevention Meets Fashion.
I think affirming clothes can be really tough if you're still a kid and you don't get to make those decisions, or maybe you just don't have the money to dress yourself the way you want to. I've seen a couple of nonprofits helping with things like binders, but then I've also wondered for younger kids too how do you guide people on dressing in a way that affirms your gender that can't also hurt you? Because some people are so deeply uncomfortable and they're not in a position to get surgery now and they want to bind 24 hours a day.
You know, does the nonprofit also deal with education around that piece? Sometimes you can't get a hundred percent there with what it's going to take for you to really be comfortable and be yourself, but in the meantime, you don't want to hurt yourself.
Yes, we actually do, but we actually bring folks in to talk about that. I could read a million books on binding and what it's like, but part of being a community organization is getting those folks with that lived experience. So we absolutely bring folks in or connect folks to resources that they can then ask those questions to someone. I never want to speak on something that I haven't really experienced or feel that I don't know enough about.
And binding is one of those things. Like I know that it can be affirming, but I also know from the medical side, how damaging it can be. Right. So I definitely connect folks to the needed resources that they need to get those questions, especially with younger kids, because they shouldn't be binding 24 hours a day.
You know, I do know that it's a time limit depending on how old you are with how long you should be binding or even if it is appropriate to bind at that age, whatever age it is. As far as clothes go, I really haven't hit any younger parents really talk to me about that is mainly teenagers and up, but younger folks, I really haven't had anyone.
And now that you brought it up, but watch I get a call I really haven't had any younger folks or parents talk to me about how they can dress their younger kids and affirm from them. For one, I commend a parent if they do reach out to me, because then that means that they are a step ahead of parents who absolutely will not be having it at all.
Right. And so I definitely want to guide them in the right direction. As far as affirming fashion and, and wearing the clothes that affirms the youth, but also we got a small grant to hire community members to teach technical skills, such as sewing and crochet. The premise behind it was to also get LGBTQ folks and Black folks involved in stem and how STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) can be a part of fashion, you know, taking that A and doing something with it, but also to give folks a starter for how you can make your own clothes, if you can't afford.
Because that's beyond, as affirming clothes cost a lot, you know, androgynous type clothes or all those clothes. They cost a lot.
Yeah. There was a time in the nineties when remember almost everybody still was sewing as a hobby and there were craft stores everywhere, and fabric was not expensive, but as fast fashion got cheaper and cheaper and cheaper, it became more expensive to make your own clothes. There were always clothes that you could of course shop in the men's section, which I used to do a lot before puberty, before these inconvenient curves got in the way that make men's wear implausible sometimes without altering. Altering is a really, really handy skill because if you thrift, then you could alter your clothes to make them more gender-affirming.
And that's the premise behind the sewing. And so Daisy is our instructor who's coming on board and they use, she, and they pronouns.
They are all about like teaching mending and how to up-cycle. And that's something that we want because let's say you get clothes from my Affirming Fashion program, or you go to another, like a trans clothing closet or a thrift store or whatever. And you want to make it your own. Now you have these soft skills to be able to make this outfit your own using other stuff that's in your house. So they talk about how you can take a t-shirt apart and use parts of it to make this how you can. If you have jeans that are really old how you can take the pockets off and make something else out of it, or make a pocketbook out of it, or a book bag or bag or whatever you want to call it.
So using what you have to be able to lessen that financial barrier that's out there. Because right now, as you said, a few minutes ago, it's very performative. Every designer right now has a genderless fashion line right now, because again, they think that folks like you and I are trends and we're, we're not.
It's heartbreaking to know that if you're someone who may be hasn't thought it through, or you're kind of new to the concept that like this always happens, you know, a smaller group of people has a need and the dominant culture refuses to fill it or address it. And the smaller group creates their own solution. And then everybody sees the sales and swoop in and put the smaller companies out of business.
So I could see some people thinking, oh, this is great. Look at what Zara is doing all of the sudden and thinking, oh, this company supports me. They see me. Maybe they do. Maybe they don't like, I'm not trying to throw any shade at them in particular. But think of all the other companies who have to charge higher prices because they've got smaller production and maybe also they have ethical production, it just happens to cost more money.
There are so many levels to the benefits and really thinking about, oh, what's a garment that's going to last once your sense of fashion kind of levels out. I mean, there are some people who just love to continually buy accessories, but I feel like as I've gotten older now that I know exactly what I feel best in, I don't really have any desire to keep adding things to my wardrobe.
I pretty much wear things til the wheels fall off and then replace them with something that almost looks exactly the same.
Well, you definitely I'm blanking on the term, but I think it is called a repetitive fashion and you're not the only one that does it. Like Simon Cowl does it. Right. White t-shirts basic pants. Right. You're not the only one that does that. And this is actually the psychology behind why folks do that, you know, it's cause people remember that. That's your brand, that's your look. So people think that they think that they're being not intentional, but they are being intentional, if that makes sense.
And another thing about the pandemic, like over pandemic, I started posting about shopping your own closet, right? So a lot of times we have those staples in our closet. But because we keep adding stuff on top of stuff, they get buried, they get buried. So I've challenged people to go into their closet, take everything out and look at everything right.
And put it into I wore it. I don't wear it, you know, needs to be donated type of piles. And I've even challenged myself to do it. Cause I'm one of those people that see something like, oh, I don't have this. And then I go in my closet and like, oh shoot. I do, you know, because I wasn't organized. And so I challenged myself to get organized and to look at what I had in my closet and just add staples that I didn't have instead of rebuying, rebuying and rebuying.
And I donated a lot. I gave a lot as well. I am a fan of clothing swaps, but of course when COVID happened, a lot of folks, you know, weren't able to do that. A lot of folks. Especially with the information going out that COVID can live on your clothes. It couldn't, you know, people were really afraid to like swap clothes and stuff like that, but I'm a fan of it.
Because you know, I can give someone something that I no longer wear and gets something that's essentially new. Cause that's what you're looking for. Right. That's the feeling that you're looking for, that you're getting something new that you're getting a package. And I know you asked earlier, how does that lead to sexual health?
And that is one of the love languages, right to receive stuff. So I think that's why also gravitate towards fashion and, and stuff like that because that's something you can receive. And I noticed my love language I love to receive and I love to give right. So that's how it also relates to sexual health.
But also we've been talking about how it relates to sexual health since we began this conversation since we're talking about identities and expression, and all of that is tied up with sexual health. Sexual health is not just about sex. It's about the mind, body and spirit it's about everything. And so when you look good, you feel good when you're comfortable in what you're in, you're able to express that and have that confidence with your partner or partners.
You know, a lot of times people don't wear lingerie or don't wear, you know, cute underwear because they're not happy with their body. Right. And what would that look like to have a partner? That's been like, you know what? You, you look nice in those boxers. It doesn't have to be based on what you see on TV or any of it.
You look good in those boxers. And just that one little thing could change someone's whole mood and feeling, you know, instead of them looking at what society projects as appealing or whether it's, you know, a male or female gaze, you know? I know I've had to personally check people because I don't like to see cutesy underwear.
I don't like it. Give me a pair of boxers in a heartbeat. I will, I will wear boxers. Like I like boys shorts. I like boxers. I like full-coverage underwear. I don't have thongs. And, and again, as a, as someone who studies sexual health, that's not good for folks with vaginas anyway it can cause micro lesions, like it's just not sanitary.
Oh. So underwear like that, that's not good for vaginal health could probably increase your risk for STI because you'll have more tiny cuts that you can't say. Now that's a bigger sham. That's a, I think of all the layers, because the part of the country where I was raised in sex ed in the school system was basically abstinence.
And that was also kind of the story at home. So certainly didn't get any kind of sex ed that would be useful for same sex couples. And even when you go to a physician, even now in 2021, No one seems to know anything about STIs between women. No one seems to know, like there's just not enough research there, or maybe people aren't going to continuing ed classes.
I don't know what's going on, but there are so many knowledge deficits that I feel we have. And then there's so many things that culturally cis women in particular have been trained to do that compromise your sexual health even further, like removing all of your pubic hair. That was another barrier that could help prevent STI and oh wow.
And nobody tells you this stuff before you remove it. And what if you removed it permanently? Which a lot of people did when that became
Well people to today still don't care. I go in our, during our condo Fisher show, I did a condom party and I talked about. All things condoms. Cause we always do that for our condom party. And someone that was on the Zoom was like, well, I was showing them a dental dam and showing them how to use a dental dam. And they were like, well, the person I'm with need to remove their hair. And I said, why? You know? And they couldn't tell me why, because I just always thought they need to remove their hair before oral sex.
Right. I'm like, no, do you remove your hair before you ask for oral sex? This was a male, someone with a penis and I'm like, do you remove your hair before you ask for, so why are you asking your partner, who they disclose was a cis female to remove their hair? If you're not removing your hair? When like, think of the double standards there.
You know, and this is also what images you see. Right? You see you see these images of getting waxed then and everything for female-identified folks, but you never see melody, identify folks get waxed. And if you do, they put them in, they automatically put them into the gay category. They're get like, no, you know, waxing is not an identity.
Right. You know, it's a choice, like either you wax or you don't, but that should be someone's choice. I've told people too, if that's something that you want to do wax or shave, use it as a partner activity, like use it as eroticism. Like you shave me, I'll shave you.
Like, you know what I mean?
Well, I had a question about that, so, and this may be completely bogus or outdated, but. Back in the day, they used to say don't shave don't floss the day before an encounter with a partner that you're not in a closed relationship with or who you've been tested with. Is there any truth to that?
It is. It actually is. So again, when you're, when you get waxed or you shave, you want to at least give yourself 24 to 48 hours, because again, you don't know nicked yourself anywhere. You want to give the skin a chance to heal a little bit because you can get infections flossing, your gums, and brushing your teeth.
Yes, we do say don't do that as a risk reduction, even though it's a low, a low risk when you're looking at the HIV scale. So it was high, medium, and low. It's a low. It's still a risk. And so, you know, you want to make sure that you're giving people all the information too, so that they can make an informed decision.
And I think that's why I don't carry the line anymore, but I used to carry a line of flavored lubes and this particular company actually worked with a dental hygienist to come up with do, that was flavored. That was actually good for your teeth and gums and stuff, because people were worried about their breakfast stuff like this.
So they actually came up with one that was really good for oral sex that, so that people wouldn't have to worry about the, the breath,
Oh, after tasting like that after,
So you ate something or whatever like that it was, it was, yeah. So I thought that was really cool. I, I don't carry them anymore because it upends them mimic.
Like I just wasn't, you know, pushing products and I don't have a website anymore. So hopefully once I get my website up and running, I could be able to offer tools like that. Cause I don't think people know that there's options out there, like what it is. Actually. I love debunking myths and you know, a lot of myths come with truth.
And if people just know the right thing, then you know, you're doing your due diligence,
Yeah. I mean, it's really helpful to have all the information because to me, things that you do to groom your body and fashion, like it's all part of the same thing and everybody has their own aesthetic, but then you, sometimes you form these preferences without knowing what other things you might be sacrificing.
So for you, if you can still grow your bush back, you might want it. Like, I don't know, once you weigh it all out, plus, you know, fashion goes in cycles. There was a time when everybody wanted to be totally bare and then people started doing more designs and then some people just want to go all the way back natural.
It's interesting though. Once you think about all the different images we're exposed to about this is the ideal body ageism is definitely is a big issue because I don't know that I've ever seen gray body hair depicted anywhere. People get gray hair everywhere, but you just never see it. It seems like people usually don't discover that that doesn't click until they get their first gray body hair and they're like, oh, whoa, whoa, whoa. I didn't know this was going to happen.
Or they shave or they dye it. You know, it's just like this, this scary thing to people that you're aging. And I never looked at it that way when I was little, I used to tell my grandma, I can't wait to get, you know, salt and pepper hair like you.
And everybody's like, well, I would dye my hair and I'm like, no, like I love my grandma. I can't wait to look like my grandma. Right. But people try to hide things. And of course I had, I was so happy when I got like two strands and then I cut my hair and it went away and never grew back. So hopefully, hopefully as I age, I get my grandma’s salt and pepper hair.
I would love that, you know you know, also as remembering her, she passed away, three years ago in April. So yeah, I would love that, you know, I've always embraced my body hair, which I had a conversation with someone is really a touchy subject for me because I'm Muslim and you really can't have body hair.
And so it's, so, you know, when I chose to have or keep my body here and my, and if my partners was Muslim, that was an issue. Right. Men and women, both can’t have body hair. And so and so that was a huge issue for me in advocating, especially in the sexual health space, where you have advocates, like, yeah, keep your hair.
And I'm like, you're not, again, you're not thinking culturally on how something. Cool because of religion.
I literally never heard of that before. And I know so many Muslim people.
Cleanliness and being clean cleanse for your partner, for your, so yeah, I definitely struggled with things, you know a lot. I get dinged every now and again on it, but yeah, but again, being in public health is like, is, is needed, right?
I am a person with a vagina. I don't want infections. I don't want any bacteria. When I'm in the community, I'm walking more. So now you have sweat and, you know materials rubbing against, and that's a barrier. I don't want to shave it.
You know, all these different things that you know, that we don't think about. Pubic hair does for us and shields us from.
Right, right. That's a really good point. That's so, it's so interesting too. When you think about the things that are going to change in the body as you age, that people don't generally discuss, because they're so cagey about aging, it's it can be very handy for other reasons, too, just as all muscles begin to relax, you know, not everything is going to stay in the same position it was when you were a teenager. So just something else to think about.
Where can people connect with your brand now? And when you have people come in doing the tutorials, you said you're not just bound to your state, are these something that people can sign up for online?
Yeah. So right now where, you know, obviously I'm trying to raise money so that we can create a website and have a more.
This have more of a reach for folks, but right now we're on Instagram, @preventionmeets fashion, and we have a link tree and all of our events all of our donation buttons, everything that we're doing is, is dumped into our link tree. Also you can find me on LinkedIn under my name, Nhakia T Outland MSW.
I believe that's how it is on here. Fun fact, I had to change it because I started getting messages from young, white teenagers, like on, on LinkedIn and come to find out, we laughed about it. I met the young man, but he had the same initials as me, cause mines used to be N T Outland and he had the same initials.
So all his friends were like DMing me and stuff. So it was really cool. We all got to meet. So now is NT Outland MSW. But yes, you can find me on LinkedIn. You can find my business on Instagram @preventionmeetsfashion.
And we look forward to connecting with folks and following us and being in community. I love being around people.
Thank you so much. If there was one thing that you could share with everyone and they would instantly understand it, internalize it and carry it with them for the rest of their lives, what would you want to tell people? What would you want people to know?
I think what I will want people to know is something I say all the time and that's, be yourself. There's nothing wrong with being yourself. Society tells us so much that we need to be and act like someone else, but what would it look like if we all just were ourselves? I say that all the time, you know, just be yourself. Personally with me, I always say, I am me and people be like, oh, that's problematic.
It's not because I am me. I bring me everywhere. I bring me to corporate meetings. I bring me to community meetings. I bring me to parent teacher meetings. I bring me to the bar. You're getting Nhakia. Like you don't get a different version. You're getting me. And that's easiest for me because I don't have to worry about code-switching or remembering what I said or didn't say here or whatever like that.
The only thing you might get as you heard on this call is you might get a different outfit. That's about it. You might get a different hair color or a different look. But other than that I'm just me.
I love that. Oh, that's beautiful.
Body Liberation for All Theme
Yeah. They might try to put you in a box, tell them that you don't accept when the world is tripping out tell them that you love yourself. Hey, Hey, smile on them live your life just like you like it is.
It’s your party negativity is not invited. For my queer folks, for my trans, people of color, let your voice be heard. Look in the mirror and say that it's time to put me first. You born to win. Head up high with confidence. This show is for everyone. So, I thank you for tuning in. Let's go.