I got this dress from a thrift shop in Hayward, California when I was 19 years old. It was the very first piece of clothing that I, a slightly overweight, and also somewhat awkward college sophomore, bought on my own without the stigmas that I had carried with me throughout life dictating my purchase. It was a monumental step for me–therapeutic in many ways. First and foremost, for the very first time, I felt beautiful and confident. It barely fit, and also cost me most of my monthly food budget–but when I put it on, I felt so many new and wonderful things. I wore this dress with boots throughout the winter and then with sandals all summer long for more than a couple of years. It expressed my aesthetic as a young woman, feminine, yet slightly edgy (probably quite out of place as a Gunne Sax knockoff prom dress in the middle of a population wearing either jeans and t-shirts or exercise clothing as everyday wear) but I truly believe that it was a central factor in helping me transform from a product of the middle-class suburbs into an informed and vital person that I like to see myself as today.