How Growing Up As a Preachers Kid Helped Me Become a Fashion Designer - Abbie James

How Growing Up As a Preachers Kid Helped Me Become a Fashion Designer

How Growing Up As a Preachers Kid Helped Me Become a Fashion Designer

If you ask Google what a PK is you will find it's a gaming term, something I learnt today while writing this. But when I was growing up, before I even heard the word gamer, a PK meant a preacher's kid. 

From Preachers Kid to Fashion Designer

I knew I was different to everyone else, or rather, I knew our family was different to all the other families we knew. You see, we were part of a church, a very strict church. We went to church on Saturdays and didn't celebrate birthdays or Christmas. It sounds very Jewish because it was centred around the Old Testament, but we weren't Jewish. I am not going to talk to you about religion, although I am very spiritual, I do not think of myself as a religious person. What this journal entry is about is how this unique upbringing helped forge me into the person I am today, a fashion designer. 

I always had a sense of not quite fitting in. At school, I knew I was different because no one else went to church on Saturdays. I couldn't go to friends' houses over the 24 hour sabbath time and this also included sports, parties and activities. I can't even remember going on holiday to a place where we couldn't go to church. When it was Easter and we were colouring easter egg art at school, I was sent to sit on the front step of my classroom as I wasn't allowed in the room while the activity was on. I remember once the principal walked past me on the step and reprimanded me for being sent outside for being naughty. I remember feeling banished for that, it felt so unjustified. At church I also wasn't like the other kids. I was the PK. I can't remember feeling bad about this, but I still did feel different. I always felt like I was on display. A lot was expected of me and my family. At times we were given extra privileges, I was allowed to go into areas that other kids couldn't. The room where my dad talked with other ministers on special church days was always a favourite for me as there were so many little snacks on the table that I would eat quickly before I was told to leave! Sometimes I could sneak a friend in with me and that was always exciting. Each member of our family has a different story about this time in the church. It wasn't an easy time, but being the youngest I think I was sheltered from a lot of the heavy stuff that my parents and sisters had to deal with. It was expected for everyone to dress their best for church. This is where my mum shone. She is an amazing seamstress. Not having a job and not being able to branch away from our church, she found joy in making clothes for me and my sisters. She is still the best seamstress I know. She was an amazing smocker and in true 80's style would create elaborate smocked collars over gorgeous dresses that my girls still wear today. It was my mum that taught me the art of dressing up, wearing special outfits on special occasions, and respecting the occasion. I never felt like I was dressing up for other people's expectations. She spent a lot of time making the clothes and we saw this process and we respected the clothes, to a certain extent. I still did get them dirty in the playground, but to me, they were always special.  When I chose to leave the church in my early highschool years I didn't have the eyes of the church on me anymore but I still wanted to stand out from the crowd. And I did this through my wardrobe. Looking back I can see part of this was me searching for significance. But the other part was me having fun with my clothes and expressing myself, just like I had done my whole life dressing up for church. This time there was more shock value-added. Hotpants made from 60's fabric from our kitchen curtains, homemade orange neon boob tubes worn with my grandfather's trousers, and pink velvet bathing suits which ended up being completely see-through when wet (I learnt this out the hard way). I had so much fun with fashion and not once can I remember trying to fit into a mould that others were in. I was doing everything in my power to stand as far away from that mould as possible.  Not fitting in when I was younger has helped me realise I don't need to fit in to feel like I belong. The art of standing apart seems to be ingrained in my DNA. I am so thankful for the childhood my family gave me. I always felt so loved growing up and I never felt like I had to be anything other than who I was for my parents to love me. If I didn't grow up in such a strict church where dressing up each week was the norm, I wonder if fashion would have played such a large part in my life. Maybe I wouldn't be a fashion designer, maybe I wouldn't have spent my youth sewing clothes and scouring op shops for crazy outfits. Maybe I would have been a writer instead.