Self-Expression Through Style: Uncover Your Hidden Seed
Editor’s Note: Have you looked in the closet and wondered what in the world you will wear today? Have you looked in the mirror and wondered why your clothes don’t match how you feel, or who you really are? When your editor is feeling a bit like that, she turns to Elsa Mora, who delivers beautiful messages about expressing our true selves through art and personal style.
By Elsa Mora
I created The Hidden Seed with the purpose of celebrating self-expression and communication through personal style.
Style has to do with a sense of purpose in whatever we do and also in the way that we project ourselves to the world. We are not born with any particular style, we rather develop one over the years as we get to know ourselves better and as we become more self-confident about what we want to do with our lives.
But let me explain a little bit about the motivations behind The Hidden Seed. I am going to start making a confession: When I was a little girl growing up in Cuba, in the heart of a macho culture, I didn’t want to be a girl. I wanted to be a boy because life seemed more interesting for boys than for girls.
By the time I was about 18, I ended up being the only female student in a class of about 10 boys. I loved each one of them so much! I still do and I miss them terribly. I did everything to show them my love; I cut their hair, I sewed primitive pants for them out of stolen bed sheets from our school, I took the train with them to the countryside on the weekends to enjoy innocent afternoons eating mangos directly from the trees and running around making noise. Back then I was almost one of them.
In 1990, I graduated from art school and started my first job as an Art Teacher. It was around that time when the little hidden seed of personal style and self-expression started growing inside me. I was teaching my students everything that I could about creativity and about self-expression because I though that, for an artist, those were key elements. But I didn’t realize back then that more than teaching my students I was learning some important lessons myself. I was still a teenager trying to find my own voice and with the help of my students I ended up “composing” my own little “music” for the first time.
One of the first things that I did around that time was to create a wardrobe all by myself, using the very limited resources I had in my poor life. It was one of the most fun experiences that I ever had. Fortunately, Cuba is a country where you only need simple clothes since it is summer all year round. So, with a few pieces of fabric I made little tops for myself and one single pair of pants (in black) those pants were what you would call here “my little black dress.” It was the basic piece of clothing that I combined with the different tops, and accessories. I couldn’t wait to wake up everyday, get dressed and go to work. For the first time ever I started enjoying being a girl.
Life kept going, so many things have happened since then, but to make a very long story short I need to show you these photographs. It is not my purpose to offend you with them in any way. I was supposed to destroy these photos, but instead I kept them laminated under my typing board, as a reminder of one of the darkest periods of my life. I took this photos of myself in 2005 using a simple camera with a self-timer.
The photos already tell you a lot, I only want to add that around that time I felt sad. I didn’t like the way I looked and I had zero motivation to improve my situation. Becoming a Mom for the second time, finding myself with no space to do the things that I was used to do as an artist, being a wife, a daughter, a friend, a woman — it all became overwhelming.
The day I took those pictures I decided to push myself a little bit in order to accept that I needed to do something about myself. It was the very first step of many that I had to take to move forward. I always thought, and I still do, that the best way to see how you are doing is by looking at yourself from the outside and I literally did that. I needed to look at myself as if I was another person. The other me told me that Elsa could be in a much better place physically and emotionally and in order to get there she needed to be nice to herself and she needed to take tiny steps, one at a time.
That’s exactly what I did with lots of will and the unconditional support of my husband Bill. Today, I am in a much happier place. Life is as busy as ever, even more than it was around the time when I took the photos, but the big difference is that today I am taking care of that little hidden seed that we all need to nourish and protect everyday, the seed of love that starts with loving ourselves. It is not easy at times, because the demands from life are too many, but we need to keep finding new ways to keep ourselves excited and motivated.
I never thought that I was going to publish this part of my life but I am happy to do it because if The Hidden Seed can reach a single woman out there who needs support, understanding and inspiration to move forward to a better place then I will feel that I have done something useful.
From The Hidden Seed I invite you to celebrate life with me. I am inviting you to love yourself and to be excited about being who you are.
As women, we give so much to other people! That’s our nature, but sometimes we forget about ourselves, we forget that life is not only about doing but also about being. Let’s be the best version of ourselves that we can be because that will make of life a much more enjoyable experience.
Elsa Mora, or Elsita, is a Cuban-born multimedia Artist living in Los Angeles with her husband Bill, a film producer, and their three children. You can visit her blog to find posts about inspiration, style, papercutting, her Etsy shop and various other delightful and useful links.