Step Out in Your Stripes with WearIt.

Step Out in Your Stripes with WearIt.

“Never apologize for burning too brightly or collapsing into yourself every night. That is how galaxies are made.”

― Tyler Kent White

We live in a society that constantly attempts to force us all into little boxes; all of our hopes, dreams, flaws, quirks, accents, dimples, winks, and cool things - into boxes. Everything we’re told to repress in order to “fit in” is who we actually are. We are the good and the bad, the bright eyes filled with happiness and struggling aching bodies. Once we embrace that and no longer live in fear of being ourselves, we’ll find a new world of freedom. By wearing items that reflect the innermost hidden parts of us, we’ll take a stance against the status quo that only continues to marginalize those who deviate from “the norm.” Whatever that is.

Throughout history, we’ve seen people embrace and express who they are on the inside through fashion and creativity. There is a psychological theory called "symbolic self-completion" asserting that individuals try to show other people their ideal version of themselves by getting and displaying symbols that they feel represent them. Many of these symbols have not only displayed cultural heritage and favorite sports teams, but they have also helped bring long-held societal beliefs and restrictions to become an accepted and celebrated normal. Colorful flags adorn people’s homes, cars, and bodies representing everything from countries and teams to sexual identities that were once forced into hiding. Pins and patches represent racial, gender, political, and environmental movements, expressing pride and resistance and moving society forward to include everyone.
Recently there has been a remarkable shift from the public wearing t-shirts and
other items usually stamped with fancy brands or favorite bands, now covered with images and messages that spread awareness about compassion, togetherness, and mental and physical health. The term "enclothed cognition" refers to the intriguing phenomenon that unveils the deep connection between our clothing choices and their influence on our thoughts, emotions, and cognitive abilities. What we wear can motivate as well as reflect our inner thoughts, such as sharpening focus, and sparking abstract thinking and enhancing confidence.
This was our intent with We wanted the 300 million people worldwide who have one of the 7,000 rare conditions to know they have a community and are not alone and that instead of struggling in silence, they can “embrace their stripes.” The zebra is the mascot for rare diseases and conditions, from the medical community saying, “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” But we’ve spent so much time focusing on how the zebra represents the outlier or a “difference” that we forget just how beautiful and unique zebras are.

Step out in your stripes. Start a conversation. Show society that 7,000 rare conditions mean there’s a good chance most people know someone with one, so it’s not that rare. We are a community of over 300 million, and by spreading the word, raising awareness, and “embracing our stripes,” we’ll be able to bring more focus to the community, leading to more research and development of treatments and resources. With a small action, we can have a huge impact.

If we are the zebras, then let’s not cover our stripes. Let’s embrace our beauty.

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