My First College Fashion Week

Almost lost along the winding one-way streets in downtown Chicago, my Uber driver and I miraculously find our way to the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. It is 6:30 at night, and as I exit the car, she warns me to stay safe; this side of town is dangerous. I take off as fast as a girl in 3-inch heels can (trust me, it's faster than you think), and my hands grow cold as I wonder about the dangers that might lie at this campus. What was at first anxiety about getting kidnapped, turns into a deep-seeded fear about the College Fashion Week viewing party. Will they be mad that I'm late? What if I'm super awkward? Will we all get along? Before my questions could go any further, I'm at the door panting from my 5-minute speed walk. To my surprise, no one is angrily shaking a finger at me when I walk through the door. Instead, I'm met with a friendly "Hey!" form each of the board members while they are trying to figure out the technology and computer situation.

Photo by Lana El Masri

My anxiety begins to disappear when I remember that my boyfriend brought me McDonald's at my job before leaving for the party. As I'm about to take the nuggets and fries out of my bag, one of the board members arrives with four boxes of pizza! Everyone laughs as they figure out that I already have food and we carry on trying to fix our technical difficulties. Scattered groups around the room silenced their chatter once Instagram was up and running. The actual fashion show viewing had begun! Among the body positive comments, jokes, and distinct pizza smell, we watched the models in awe. From the T-shirt with Xs on it, to patterned pants, and corduroy jackets, it was refreshing to see a very diverse group of women showing off everyday clothing. For the first time since I began attending UIC, I felt like part of a group. For a moment, I forgot about our differences, and instead, was able to focus on the fact that we are all girls with the same goal: to graduate college. It was an experience I truly will never forget!