Illustration by Aamnah Arshad
Illustration by Aamnah Arshad

Meteor Fashion Agency buzzed with activity, its beautiful windows and halls decorated with the numerous crafts of its workers. Karen was sitting with Sienna when a young girl entered the hall along with their senior manager, Miss Willows, who introduced the girl as a new fashion designer in the company.

“Good morning, everyone, this is Bronwyn. She’s joining us as a fashion designer. She has done her bachelor’s from the University of Parsons. She’ll work with you all from today,” Miss Willows announced.

The girl looked around shyly, she had brown eyes and black vibrant hair. What struck all the designers at the agency was her outfit. She wore a red top with blue lace and yellow trousers with orange strips running down to the hems.

As the girl nodded politely and left to go up the stairs to her room, Karen couldn’t help but feel a surge of judgment and distaste for her clothes. Bronwyn trudged up the stairs, with the whispers following. The gossipers had found their latest subject of discussion.

Karen saw that Bronwyn was an aloof kind of girl. With focus, she would be working on her designs. Every day, she would arrive early and work passionately, alone in her room.

Yet, Karen couldn’t ignore the series of comments directed at Bronwyn’s dressing choices. It seemed that despite her talent and dedication, Bronwyn’s appearance became a target of criticism among her peers.

“Is she trying to look like a creative type on purpose?”, “It’s like her clothes don’t know how talented she is!” they would snigger.

Karen found herself questioning Bronwyn’s qualifications based solely on her choice of clothing. One day, as she overheard yet another snide comment, Bronwyn’s eyes filled and her hands trembling as she tried to hide her hurt behind a forced smile.

Days passed and one day at lunch time, Karen spotted a fashion competition notice. Victoria Windsor, a discerning fashion critic, was the judge. Confident in her abilities, Karen applied to participate immediately. That night, Karen sketched on her notebook a beautiful ball dress that she thought was her best design so far.

The next day, Karen reached the hall with her dress materials, all ready to start working on her dress. Everyone taking part had also had brought their materials. Karen was surprised to find Bronwyn there too.

The other designers around her whispered sarcastically, “Does she think she’ll win? Windsor would faint as soon as she’d see her breathtaking sense of fashion!”

When Karen brought out her things to start working on her dress, she saw that the light pink cloth she was going to work on was stained through with blue permanent ink. She nearly screamed with shock. She couldn’t comprehend how it could have happened. Desperate, Karen turned to Sienna for help. But all Sienna did was fake some concern and get back to her work again. Karen went to her other friends and asked if she could borrow some clothes, but no one helped until a small chubby hand tugged at her sleeve.

It was Bronwyn, handing her a soft pink piece of fabric. Karen took the cloth, mouthed a ‘thank you’ and went back to work.

Finally, only 15 minutes were left and Karen was done with her dress. Everyone around her was giving the final touches to their gowns. Some were eyeing their dresses with admiration, while some shot looks of envy towards others and some cried in dismay that they couldn’t finish in time.

Bronwyn sat in a corner, a scissor in her hand, cutting something off her dress. No one could see it in the dark corner she sat in. But then, no one was interested either, since they didn’t expect her to come up with something remarkable. Bronwyn worked in silence and with absolute focus. Karen looked at the designers around her, whispering in hushed tones, wondered how Bronwyn would endure the criticism if she didn’t win the fashion competition. Finally, Bronwyn stood up and joined the queue where the other dresses were being examined.

The judge started analysing the dresses. The hall was filled with rows and rows of ball dresses. The judge smiled and complimented every dress until at last, she reached Bronwyn. The admiration on the judge’s face was evident and she patted Bronwyn on the back encouragingly.

At last, the judge went up to the stage and said, “It was a delightful experience examining your crafts. Your talent and passion truly shine through; I would complement every dress I saw because each one was beautiful in its own way. But we need to choose a winner and I am delighted to announce the best piece was by a truly talented girl, Bronwyn. Her dress stands out from all the dresses and, surprisingly, the only dress I saw with a combination of vibrant bold colours. I would like Bronwyn to show us her craft.”

It was a royal purple gown with shiny gold decoration. Intricate designs and colourful silk panels in the skirt were beautiful. The dress flowed beautifully with many layers of soft fabric. The little jacket on top was a beautiful golden, which shone with flawless finish. The dress glowed in the lights of the hall. Bronwyn had perfectly put together the seams, had used the perfect laces and she had let the vibrant colours bloom in her craft.

The judge shook hands with Bronwyn and the hall echoed with applause. Bronwyn beamed as tears welled up in her eyes. The judge’s words echoed in the air, resonating with the truth that fashion, like people, is diverse and beautiful in its own unique way. It isn’t about adhering to rigid standards of beauty; it is about embracing individuality, creativity and the vibrant world of colours and styles that make up the world of fashion.

Karen couldn’t hold back the tears that welled up in her eyes. She realised that her initial judgment of Bronwyn, based on her appearance, had been unfair. It was a realisation that made her review her preconceptions.

Each one of us is unique like the patterns in butterfly wings, the diverse colours in autumn leaves and individual designs of each snowflake. Don’t judge others for being different. We need to live and let others live.

Published in Dawn, Young World, May 25th, 2024

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