CHASING IN STILETTOS: MUFARO MUKOKI

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Being a female growing up in this world is something I can only simply describe as frustrating. We are constantly working to prove ourselves; to be taken seriously. A constant uphill battle.

I remember I had set my mind on becoming a fashion designer way before I started high school. I’m pretty sure everyone thought ‘this naïve little girl. She will snap out of it. Its just a phase.’ Fortunately I am very stubborn lol. 2011, I received my o level results, and much to everyone’s surprise, I had done exceptionally well. No one expected that from me and for the first time they started seeing me as a force to be reckoned with. But alas, that was short lived. People’s perceptions changed when they found out what my a level subject combination was going to be; Maths, Chemistry and Art. To any normal person, that was a very strange combination, but to an artist like myself, it made perfect sense. ‘We thought you would become a doctor’, they all said. It really sucked to hear it, but I was motivated to work harder to regain their faith.

Close to 3 years later, a friend of mine asked me to take part in this fashion show that a company she was working for was hosting. She had remembered that back in high school I was very much into fashion. Of course I was reluctant at first; i had never officially done a fashion show before and had no official training. I decided to take a chance and I entered. I ended up winning first place, and it was such a surreal feeling. I could not believe it. And for the first time, all friends and family finally saw that this was what I was meant to do. Finally, they believed in my dream. A little over two years later, I find myself having taken part in two other fashion shows; growing each and every time. I am currently in my 3rd year at Lisof design school in Pretoria; that much closer to my dreams.

The fashion industry itself, as I have come to understand it, is definitely a cut throat industry. You have to work to prove yourself and be recognised, and in order to stay relevant. It is also very challenging in that the amount of hours you put in are crazy. One can expect to have 25 hour days; there is hardly time for a social life. One of our lecturers is always reminding us that there may come a time when we have to choose between career and family, because in our industry, those two do not mix. Other challenges that one may face in the industry are issues of religion and morals. They seem to be completely disregarded. There is definitely a huge shift towards encouraging homosexuality, cross dressing, gender bending, accepting dystopian cultures like goths etc; all things that I, as a Christian, grew up being taught are wrong. These lines are definitely blurred and it’s a constant challenge, reminding yourself of your morals and boundaries without the influence of others.
As has been evident throughout most of this essay, I am very passionate about women’s rights and empowerment. I do believe women grow up at a greater disadvantage and my designs really try to tackle those issues. I like to make women feel powerful and independent; creating garments with a message. I do believe women have such great potential and hope they all realise it before they drown in societal restrictions and expectations. I have a billion things I want to achieve and change, and I will not be backing down anytime soon.

It is an honour to be considered a remarkable young woman and I hope I have inspired many to go after what they want despite the challenges.

3 thoughts on “CHASING IN STILETTOS: MUFARO MUKOKI

  1. This is so inspiring. Really well written as well. I wish you the best of luck with your career. I can’t imagine how much work you’d have to put in to make yourself a name.

  2. A woman following her dream is a force to be reckoned with! Don’t much fancy the hours you do though, you must really love it. I really love your idea of empowering women and making clothes that feel good and have a message. Good luck to you.

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