There are 37.2 trillion cells in the human body. 37.2 trillion tiny, perfect machines that have the capacity to turn the food we eat into energy, to allow our muscles to contract and release, to channel electricity just so, so that our heart can beat in a rhythm that allows our blood to pick up oxygen from the lungs and deliver it to the farthest reaches of our body. The neurons that make up our brain send signals to each other that allow us to hear, to taste, to move, to think, to seek, and to dream. These beautiful, microscopic cells are the very fiber of our being. What’s more, they’re all different. Each cell carries a complete copy of your unique DNA, but also has the capacity to pick and choose which parts of that DNA to read and to translate into proteins. This ability is what makes a heart cell a heart cell or a brain cell a brain cell. Without that ability and without the ability of each of these unique cells to work together, we couldn’t exist. A perfect balance must be maintained within our bodies, oxygen in and oxygen out, energy in and energy out, in order for us to function. It’s all so complicated that it’s hard to believe it actually works. And yet here we are. Isn’t that incredible?
One of my favorite lyrics is from a song by Regina Spektor. The line goes, “I got a perfect body ‘cause my eyelashes catch my sweat.” This concept, that the human body is perfect, not because of how it looks, but because of how well it works, is one that we hope to communicate through Epidemia apparel. We believe that our beauty is not based on what size we wear or how we look in a bikini, but, rather, goes much, much deeper than that. Each of us is beautiful because the things, the cells, that we are created from are beautiful and strong and indispensable.
In today’s social and political climate, it is easy to see that a woman who is aware of her own strength, beauty, and potential is not well received. Assertive little girls are bossy while assertive little boys are leaders. A woman who expresses her emotions is weak and one who doesn’t is cold. Young women are taught to voice their opinions, but not too loudly and never while a man is speaking. It can be very difficult to drown out the messages children receive from society at large that state clearly that boys wear blue and pursue careers while girls wear pink, raise children, and keep house. Femininity and careers in male-dominated fields like science, medicine, math, and engineering are presented as being mutually exclusive. Everyone knows that boys don’t like a know it all.
By the age of ten I knew that I was an artsy girl, a girl who loved theatre, reading, and writing. I loved to wear pretty dresses and try new hairstyles. I spent entire soccer games dancing around the field picking flowers. I was a girly girl, no doubt about it, with a closet full of glittery shirts and zebra print scrunchies. But I was also more than that. I was a kid who spent hours trying to make homemade casts to put on pretend broken arms. I once asked for crutches as a birthday present and spent my allowance on medical supplies from CVS. Medicine called to me again and again throughout my childhood and teenage years, but each time I ignored it. It didn’t make sense, I thought. It was reading and writing and singing I was good at, not science. It wasn’t until after I started college that I began to think of medicine as a career path I could pursue. I started taking science courses and soon realized that I wasn’t so bad at it after all. Now, after having completed my first year of medical school, it seems clear to me that I convinced myself I wasn’t good at math and science because I thought I wasn’t supposed to be good at math and science.
That is the notion I hope to fight with Epidemia Designs. I hope to use strikingly beautiful images of what happens inside our bodies on a daily basis to show young girls that that same beauty and power manifests itself on the outside. I hope our clothing will make its wearers feel strong and confident and help to dispel the notion that femininity and science can’t go hand in hand. It is my dream that through our apparel and through the support of organizations like GirlStart that work everyday to give young girls hands-on scientific experiences, Epidemia Designs can play some small role in creating a future in which a little girl who looks up at the night sky or into a microscope thinks to herself, “One day I will understand the magnitude of what I am seeing right now. I will seek answers to difficult questions and I will make great discoveries. Then, through those answers and those discoveries, I will change the world.”