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Ali Underwood

1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

I feel most attractive when I've been taking good care of myself. When I am well-hydrated, eating well, exercising, sleeping well, taking my medication, and bathing, I am on top of the world. Also I think I feel most attractive when my skin is clear and healthy.

2. Do you notice women on the street? If so, what sort of women do you tend to notice or admire?

I always notice women who wear a lot of interesting colors and patterns, and women who look like they are going somewhere. Nothing is more stunning than someone who is completely focused on the task at hand in interesting clothes.

3. What are some things you admire about how other women present themselves?

I admire makeup on women, though I don't like to put makeup on myself. I think the ways that people can use makeup to transform themselves inside and out is remarkable. I love seeing any woman working the sidewalk or hallway like a runway.

4. Was there a moment in your life when something “clicked” for you about fashion or dressing or make-up or hair? What? Why did it happen then, do you think?

I think in middle school I decided I was going to wear as many colors and prints as I wanted. My mom and my sister made fun of me, but my friends always supported and complimented me. I loved and still love creating looks with a lot of drama and life to them. I want people to notice me, and that's what I wanted at age 12 too. I wanted to stand out and matter to people.

5. What are some shopping rules you wouldn’t necessarily recommend to others but which you follow?

I avoid fast fashion as much as possible.
I don't buy anything unless I absolutely love it and cannot live without it. If I have any reservations about the item, it's going back.
I try to buy from thrift stores, made-in-usa or fair trade companies only.

6. What are some rules about dressing you follow, but you wouldn't necessarily recommend to others?

I don't wear athletic clothing unless I'm working out.
I don't wear bras or makeup unless I have to.
I don't wear anything with text on it.
Being comfortable is the most important thing.
Swedish Hasbeens go with anything.

14. Was there a point in your life when your style changed dramatically? What happened?

For a while in high school, I wanted (because of the person I was dating) to dress more masculinely on most days. I got misgendered regularly during this time period because I was so thin and flat-chested.

15. Is there anything political about the way you dress?

I think it probably seems political that I don't shave or wear bras, but really I have no agenda. I just want to be comfortable (not itchy or prickly, not held in around the rib cage).

16. Please describe your body.

My body is strong and brown and square. I have small boobs, a tummy, big upper thighs, small lower thighs, a small ass and medium sized arms. My body is a retired dancer's body.

17. Please describe your mind.

My mind is quick, funny, and aimless usually. My mind digs into things with fury but also forgets where I am and where I set my keys. My mind is pragmatic, nihilist and chaotic.

18. Please describe your emotions.

My emotions are like nectar freezing and melting. Nectar with chunks and petals and leaves.

19. What are you wearing on your body and face, and how is your hair done, right at this moment?

I am wearing no shirt and American Apparel black-disco bike shorts. No shoes or socks. My hair is shaved to about half an inch in length all around.

26. Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?

In writing, my style is a lot similar to my fashion style. I try to be funny, tender, colorful, strong and balanced in both areas.

27. Can you recall some times when you have dressed a particular way to calm yourself or gain a sense of control over a situation that scared you?

Sometimes when I'm tired of men and catcalling and all of those things that make me feel unsafe in public, I tend to dress more masculinely. I tone everything down and I usually walk and sit more masculinely too. I even talk with a deeper voice.

29. Did your parents teach you things about clothing, care for your clothing, dressing or style? What lessons do you remember? Or did you just pick things up?

My mom always told me to pick classic pieces like black and white shift dresses, a-line dresses, pearls, oxford shirts and dark-wash jeans. I would say that's the base of my wardrobe, with a lot of more fun stuff mixed in.

30. What sorts of things do you do, clothing or make-up or hair- wise, to feel sexy or alluring?

I like to play with my lips. I love them. They are full and plump which looks interesting with my asian (mixed) face. I usually put some coconut oil on them or even some lip stain if I want them to really pop. I also love to show off my legs with short dresses and wedges.

31. Many people say they want to feel “comfortable,” or that they admire people who seem “confident.” What do these words really mean to you?

Comfort for me means not having to adjust, check or fix anything throughout the day. It means everything fits right and feels good against my body. Confidence for me looks like someone who isn't concerned with their appearance, or contrasting that--someone who is making a bold statement with their makeup or clothes.

34. What do you consider very ugly?

Rhinestones, Ed Hardy design aesthetic, cowl necks, neon, Miss Me jeans, highlights in hair, crochet detail on tops/dresses, and any outfit that is right off the rack (styled exactly how it was in the catalog or store).

56. What would be a difficult or uncomfortable look for you to try and achieve?

It would be really hard for me to try to look "sexy" or like a "bombshell."

57. If you were totally comfortable with your body, or your body was a bit closer to what you wish it was like, what would you wear?

I would wear more things exposing my arms and hugging my upper thighs. More things tight on my tummy too.

59. Are there any dressing rules you’d want to convey to other women?

Don't try to dress for anyone but yourself.

65. What is your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?

My favorite clothing piece is this reversible quilted kantha floral-print jacket. It is colorful and beautiful and goes with every outfit. I got it from an etsy shop run from Jaipur, India.

70. Building up your wardrobe from nothing, what would you do differently this time?

Buy really high quality items--but only a few. I'm interested in the capsule wardrobe concept, but I feel like I'm already so attached to my clothes that I can't start fresh.

What’s your birth date? 
Where were you born and where do you live now?

August 16, 1995. I was born in Chicago and I live in Austin.

Say anything you like about your cultural/ethnic/economic background.

I am 1/4 vietnamese and 3/4 white. My dad was born in Vietnam during the war--his dad was a GI stationed in Saigon and his mom was a waitress in the city.

What kind of work do you do?

I am a full time student at St. Edward's University, studying English Writing and Rhetoric. I also work in an AT&T call center. I used to teach dance and also run for Favor.

Are you single, married, do you have kids, etc.?

I have a boyfriend whom I live with, also with two other roommates.

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