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Joy Thought!1 John 3:18 NIV "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."
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The high school girls attending Disney Dreamers Academy were in for a treat Saturday morning as they sat in for an engaging, interactive fashion lesson from Brandi and Karli Harvey. The 30 year old twin daughters of comedian and media host, Steve Harvey, these two women have managed to carve out a lane for themselves encouraging and inspiring young girls. Whether it’s through their now defunct program, Young Fit and Fly or in presentations like the one yesterday, these dynamic women know how to use realness to relate to their audience. MadameNoire sat down with these two after their presentation. See what they had to say about the role fashion plays in reaching your dreams, fashion faux pas and how they learned to love themselves after being teased in high school.
You guys have it together, fashion-wise now, but what was the biggest fashion mistake you made in the past 10-15 years?
Karli: 15 years ago, I was 15 and I dressed like a boy at 15. I used to wear Nautica, Polo, Tommy and I wore Timbs…
Karli: I wore a size 34/34 in mens. That’s how baggy my pants were and I was a small high schooler. Everything was huge. I was into the Hip Hop phase.
What about you?
Brandi: Yes. We dressed alike until we were 15.
So what happened? What changed?
Brandi: You know what, I think what happened with us was that we just got our own style. We started to just become our own person. Karli cut her hair at 16 and then I started to wear the long, micro braids. So that became my signature, even through college. And that became Karli’s signature the short hair. And we started to just find our own way.
Karli: Now, we had style when we were little, when our mom dressed us we had style. Because she could dress us like nobody’s business. We were always impeccably dressed as kids.
Brandi: And especially going to church.
Karli: But when we got to be teenagers and had free reign, oh we looked a hot mess.
Brandi: So probably the tomboy phase, the baggy clothes was probably the worst because it was just big. But some girls probably need to go back to that and wear big clothes because half of their clothes are too tight.
So would you say that’s the biggest mistake you’ve see young girls make?
Brandi: Yeah. Too tight. Clothes that are too small…
Karli: Too small and just inappropriate. I think a lot of girls, because of the media and what they see, they believe that sex sells. And to them, sometimes even with women, they think that if I don’t have on clothes and I show a lot of clothes, then I’m Hot. But what makes you Hot is what comes from the inside. It is a confidence, you exude confidence. And I’m telling you, if a man can dream about what he can have with you. If he is not seeing everything up front, there’s going to be that mystery there. He wants to see. He wants to get to know because he’s like ‘Man, she looks so good and she has on all her clothes.” I went through, in college, I wore short dresses. I did the body dress, really short because ‘Oh we going to the club.’ But I’ve learned over the years, I’m so comfortable with who I am, I don’t need–I have bits of sex appeal. Like my pants are fitted but I have on a blousy top, a fitted jacket. We like fitted dresses but it’s just having a balance.
How does fashion play a part in these girls achieving their dreams?
Karli: Man, because image is everything. When you step foot out of the house, you have the ability to make a great first impression. Whether it’s on your employer, on your teacher, your friends, whatever it is, you can make a great first impression. And it starts with how you look. You only get one chance to make a first impression, one opportunity. There are no do-overs. So, if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.
Brandi: And we tell our girls that people address you by the way you are dressed. You can’t expect people to treat you like the First Lady and you dress like Nicki Minaj. It just doesn’t work. Those two things don’t go hand in hand. We always say that in our presentation, so it makes the correlation in their minds that, you know what, I set my standard. And if you set the standard, people have to come up to reach that. You’re not going to bring yourself down to get on their level. You want to set a standard and people need to reach your level.
I noticed that the girls were rallying around you after your presentation. So, what makes the girls so receptive to the delivery of your message?
Brandi: We’re transparent. We are real. What you see is what you get. We tell a lot of our stories about growing up and we keep it real with the girls to let them know, I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I know. We’re not ashamed to tell the story. And I think that’s what people get because game recognize game, real recognizes real. They can relate to us because we relate to them. We don’t try to hide the fact that we’ve done things that weren’t right, we’ve said things that probably weren’t right.
We tell them that as a teaching tool. You can not heal girls if you’re not going to be real enough to tell the story and that’s our mission to heal these girls, to change their lives, to inspire them. To let them know I’m not any different than you.
Karli: When we were teenagers our mom always told us that we were great, ‘oh you’re beautiful.’ But when we went to school, kids weren’t as kind. Kids talked about us, they said we were ugly. Our noses are too big, your smile is too wide. Your teeth are too big. You just not cute. And it hurt us when we were younger. And so now, we’ve built up the confidence just within ourselves. Because we started to believe that we were great that we were beautiful and no matter what people said about us, what they thought, felt or believed about us, we knew who we were. And I think now, why we can reach so many girls and our message can translate is because we’ve been there. We’ve been called the ugly duckling.
Even though we didn’t– ‘Dang! I’m ugly, really? I thought I was cute…’
Brandi: I thought I was cute today.
Karli: But we got talked about. We got told that we weren’t good enough. So, all we want to do is tell these girls that they are good enough, that they are special enough, that they are pretty enough, that they are worthy enough.
Brandi: That you are enough all by yourself.
Karli: And so being a teenager and knowing what it feels like to be called ugly, to have people talk about your image and how you felt. Like, I thought I looked good but they spoke otherwise. And so just reinforcing the point that they’re wonderful just the way they are.
Brandi: That’s it. That they’re all right just the way they are.
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