Since I was a little girl, I've fantasized about who or what I could be each day. As a child I loved playing dress-up and would pick a different person, mimic their look, and career choice. When playing with my Barbies I'd create new looks with the clothing and accessories, even cutting their hair into different styles! Then came the release of Jem & the Holograms which was a game changer for me and set the tone for how I envisioned what I wanted my future life to be, or at least look like. Cue my very own Tonya childhood creations and various personas...
Although my head was in the clouds, I also remained down to earth and enjoyed being a teacher teaching a class (although when I think back what I really envisioned was Van Halen’s "Hot for Teacher video, which was released when I was 7 years old; goodness! LOL) I also loved being an extra helpful grocery store clerk who was so happy ringing up those flimsy fake food boxes on my Fisher Price retro cash register; you know the one with the blue, green & red coins?
And my interest in fitness - an integral part of my life all these years later - started back then when I asked for every single 'Get in Shape Girl' Hasbro set made! Flashback to me in "Flashdance" and being Jane Fonda in her workout videos (those are still killer workouts BTW). I could be a studio instructor, ballerina, gymnast, you name it, and the music with its upbeat tempos always made my heart race!
By now you've no doubt figured out that music and music videos - in their MTV heyday when I was a kid - have been a major influence on me and my style. Oh those '80s video vixens! My parents loved music too and I vividly remember all their vinyl records which then became 8-tracks and then cassettes. One year for Christmas I received my very own pink boom box and stage microphone that lit up with the tap of a foot button…talk about getting stars in my eyes!
Of course, queen Madonna was changing everything for female pop stars - I dressed up as her two Halloweens in a row - and she inspired me to begin choreographing and styling my own videos using our family 'big box' camcorder. After seeing Prince's "U Got The Look" video I continued my journey as an artist/stylist/videographer, creating the Purple One's totally unique looks. He once said, "People who have no creativity, talent, or courage are the ones who follow the rules. Be brave, be bold, step up and make your own! The passion that lies inside of you means you don't need to follow the pack, because you transcend it." I can't tell you how much he and that statement have influenced me in all my creative pursuits.
So, the moral of this style story? I love to play dress up to this day at age 44 and you should too. As a model and in my everyday life I love wearing different looks and becoming someone new with each one...it’s like bringing those childhood fantasies to life. And with that said, I wholeheartedly encourage everyone out there, no matter your age, shape, size, or gender identity, to feel free to - as you-know-who would say - "Express Yourself"!
Now if I could only figure out how I can land in just one music video...