What is your first name, occupation, and role (or roles) you most identify with?
Marlena Simone, College Graduate, Wardrobe Consultant, Mentor, Woman of God and Friend
What is the most positive thing about being a woman in 2019?
I thank God every day that I wake up because I am given a clean slate, a new day to begin and a fresh start. I’m thankful to be a member of the class of 2019, with a bachelor’s degree in apparel design and merchandising with a minor in marketing from SFSU. I’m proud to be a woman of color with a bachelor’s degree attached to my name. Putting myself through school was such an uplifting experience. I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
What is the hardest thing about being a woman in 2019?
Standing out in a world that is constantly changing and owning the desire to be divergent. I’ve seen for many obtaining that desire can be challenging. The first step is to focus on yourself and filter out all unrelated elements. In a world filled with different voices and visuals, it’s easy to go astray. The ultimate challenge is self-discovery when living in a world where it’s easier to discover someone else. This can cause many of us to think we need to mold ourselves into what social media reflects. Social media can and has had a deep influence on our self-perception. We become distracted by the idea of how things could be rather than realizing what they are. My own journey through self-discovery began within middle school when my style began to take on its form my third year of high school. Along with magnification comes influence and transmute. I used to be easily influenced by other style presentations, without looking at myself entirely. It’s not hard to drift into the mind frame of self-comparison when living in a time where the mainstream overtakes personal style. Fashion and the glossy magazines it inhabits allow the Western culture to dream. It permits a person to fantasize about experimenting with new identities.
When did you first notice that society treated men and women (or boys and girls) differently?
I have three older brothers so I learned by nature of being the youngest. In current times it can be seen that many (men and boys have it easier—they always have) but with the advancement of technology and the power of social media and connection, we are aiming to uplift ourselves in whole as women and along the individual routes we take.
How do you maintain your resiliency in these times?
Every now and then I give myself a reality check and come to terms with the fact that only my life can be lived by me and I’m in control of my own influence. For my mental health and all positivity, I have to stay and remain prayerful as well as spend time in solitude.
Why do you think past movements haven't moved the needle for women? Or have they?
I believe that they have a little amount. Now being in times of greater opportunities and having easier routes of reach, promotion, and visibility we can present more to a much wider range.
Do you think the current movement will be the one to change things for future generations?
In some areas, yes, but we need to not wait for someone else to initiate an idea or solution. if it comes to your mind—make a move.
What needs to happen for us to move forward?
We need to communicate, express ourselves and we need to pray.
What can women do to make it better for other women?
We need to uplift each other!
What can men do to make it better for women?
Open their minds, listen and take action.
What are some of the influences (people, art, books, songs, movies) you loved growing up that made you realize your power?
I’m influenced by God, my mother, sister, grandmother and myself. As far as influential books, I would say the bible guides me daily.
As far as documentaries, I watched Dark Girls by Bill Duke. Many elements within this documentary resonated with me and made me feel even more uplifted about my chocolate-cinnamon skin then I already was.
Growing up I read and wrote a lot of poetry. It was my favorite form of self-expression. One of my favorite poets is Maya Angelou. She speaks from experience in a way that you can feel it.
I listen to a lot of soulful music that expresses uplift and self-love. A few artists that I listen to are: India Arie, Goapele, and Sade. I believe that what you listen to influences your actions so if it isn’t positive I won’t listen to it.
Visit the WOMAN 2020 webpage to tell your story and to stay in touch about the exhibition opening in Spring of 2020.