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Excerpt from Be Your Own Hero

Be Your Own Hero

by Allison Izu Song


What if, when you looked at yourself in the mirror, you saw the value of your own unique beauty, rather than comparing yourself to other women who are taller, prettier, skinnier or smarter than you? What if you let go of the need for validation and praise from others and simply felt complete in yourself, beautiful in your own skin?

I’m a fashion designer. I’m short, and I’m Asian. As a young girl flipping through fashion magazines, I could never find anyone I could relate to. Shopping was a demeaning chore; nothing fit right, and every pair of pants I tried on covered my feet completely. When I looked in the mirror, I compared myself to my friends and the models I saw in magazines. I wanted to be taller, like them; I wanted larger eyes, like her, longer legs, like her. Etcetera.

When you feel small compared to everybody else, it rips away at your self-esteem, making you feel less powerful, even invisible. You might overcompensate with a big personality and  strut around in four-inch heels, or you might shrink yourself to match the size you feel. That’s kind of what I did, for a while. But when I became a designer and found my own niche, designing clothes for petite women, I finally really started to come into my own.

 I began sewing in fifth grade, when my mom enrolled my sister and me in sewing classes. Altering my own clothes, especially hemming pants, was always a necessity. With no fashion made for women my size, I had to work with clothes to make them my own.

Although fashion was always a part of my life, I didn’t realize I could do it as a career—I thought it was frivolous. I wanted to be a psychologist, I wanted to help people. . . . .