Streaming sites such as Netflix and Disney Plus have done a great job of taking us back in time. Being able to reexperience some of your favorite TV moments can show you how much you’ve grown, how much the industry has changed – or not, and how influential your favorite characters may have been in your life.
Personally, I’ve been reminded of how much fashion was in all that I was doing, even when I watched television. I realized that certain shows and characters made working in fashion more than just a dream. To be specific, two characters made working in fashion seem more feasible for a girl like me.
Raven Baxter, played by Raven Symone, was the first Black Disney princess. Sis had one of the top shows and we all wanted to be her, or like her. She was smart, funny, beautiful, and had a wardrobe we couldn’t get enough of. And the kicker was, she made her own clothes.
Raven Baxter didn’t look like everyone in the fashion industry. She was a vibrant young Black woman with hips, boobs, booty and thighs, and she never let anyone tell her she didn’t fit into their world – or clothes - mainly because she made them her own.
Of course Raven was an ‘it girl' - she had the fur accent on her clothes, the rhinestones and accessories to add some sparkle, the hair, and the heels to bring it all together. And although Raven had Alana (her archenemy/a hater) on her back, her visions on her mind, and Davon (her first love) in her heart, she always found time for her craft. She was focused and I admired that.
In addition, as a chubby girl, the fact that Raven never let her “size” get in her way when it came to her dream of being a designer, made me feel seen. Especially in season two, episode eight when the editor of a teen magazine didn’t want Raven to model her own dress because she didn’t have “the look.”
Ray overcame that and eventually worked for a big time designer. She was the ultimate ‘it girl’ for me growing up and she showed me how being a Black girl with some extra meat doesn’t mean I don’t have a bad ass sense of fashion or a right to make it in the fashion industry.
Before attending Santa Monica College on The Parkers, we met Kim Parker, played by Countess Vaughn, on the show Moesha as the friend who was most likely to be down to party.
But unlike Raven Baxter, we met Kim in a different, slightly unpleasing light. She was still a cool girl, a good friend, and down for whatever but we were almost always reminded of her size. I mean, from the very first episode of Moesha Kim’s “friends” were making fun of her weight.
But of course, Kim’s greatness shined through. You start to see that the girl they tried to deem flawed according to looks, was not only a cutie but also full of life, color and style. Her fits were always creative from the hair and accessories to the color coordination and her confidence. Kim always knew who she was – the definition of an "it girl."
So it only made sense that when The Parkers came around and Kim had gone to college, that her character would flourish.
Now, I didn’t agree with all of her outfits – we all have different styles – but what did it for me was that Kim was fully herself and she didn’t let her curves or how others may have perceived them hold her back. She always dressed to impress and like Raven, made her own clothes simply because the stores couldn’t keep up.
Over the years, from Moesha to later seasons of The Parkers, Kim’s love for clothes grew from a hobby to a hustle. She always found ways to get her designs noticed by dressing her friends for their big opportunities or simply being apart of the school fashion events. Eventually Kim built a business out of her talents.
She had the dream of starting her own line and she made it happen. Once again, I was inspired by a curvy young Black woman to create my own lane and space in an industry that didn't deem me particularly beautiful or worthy of a seat at the table.
Raven and Kim still made it glamourous and a dream. Them loving and working in fashion didn’t bring down the glamour or the "look" of the industry. They actually added to the glitz and made it more desirable. Especially because they were creating things that were different and innovative.
Remember when they both made dresses out of real flowers? Fashion wasn’t doing that. They were the ones who made me want to be innovative in my approach to create my own.
Kim and Raven gifted me the ingredients of what it takes to be an "it girl" as well as showed me the different things a person could do to clothes. They introduced me to the side of fashion I wanted to be a part of while showing me that someone like me could have a seat at the table or even design one of my own.