We sat down with Deb from the Broke Minimalist, a minimalist fashion and wellness blog with socially and economically conscious content. Deb is originally from Los Angeles, and moved to Seattle for college to study Communications with a Journalism concentration. We talked with her about everything from fashion to mental health and her job as a janitor in college. Check out our interview below!
Our goal here at Sheerfull is to highlight people who are authentic and deliberate in their style. For a lot of us, living authentically starts with unlearning the damaging things that society has taught us to internalize about our identity. You’ve written about unlearning some of the ideas about your hair, body, and even spirituality. Tell us what that journey has been like for you and how it’s shaped your style and how you move through the world.
As a woman of color, and as a woman with curves, I’ve had to unlearn the idea that my body always has to be so sexual. I’m learning to embrace my body--the lumps, the bumps, all of that stuff--without treating it like an object. I realized I felt the most empowered when I was wearing more androgynous clothes because I wasn’t solely a body when people looked at me. It wasn’t just like “oh your butt looks really good.” Not that there’s anything wrong with showing off your curves, it’s just that there’s so much pressure for women with bodies like mine to dress a certain way. When I was in high school and college, sometimes I would try and dress to fit this sexualized ideal but I never felt comfortable in that style, and I realized I was just doing it for outside validation. Part of my style journey with this has been finding brands that don't just sell "sexy" clothes, which is so good at targeting women of color because to them we are just bodies, or we are just video vixens. That’s fine if it’s authentic to you, I just don’t really see myself that way.
What/who is the Broke Minimalist?
The Broke Minimalist is essentially a socially and economically conscience blog that focuses on mental health, minimalism, and fashion. You can see more on my YouTube channel, here (www.youtube.com/thebrokeminimalist). It's also about being aware of what you’re buying and why you’re buying it. I don’t want to limit people to just only buying ethical things--I want people to actually think about why this trend is cool, or what’s influencing what they like, or why they spent $600 this weekend, you know what I mean? Who am I trying to impress or who am I trying to be?
In this post on your blog, you cautioned readers against “wearing trends instead of wearing what [they] love” -- can you tell us more about that?
I never not want to wear something because of what other people might think about me. Even today, I’m literally wearing this marshmallow puffer thing, and people stared at me, and I thought, “oh my gosh, this is too much.” I caught a glimpse of that, but I let it go because I like this jacket, it brings me joy, and it keeps me warm. I never want to dress in a way that is set by someone else's standards, I want to dress by my own standards.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to learn more about minimalism and sustainable fashion?
To not be so hard on yourself. This isn’t just something you can get done in a day. It’s so much more than cleaning out your apartment or closet, it’s about finding and setting values in your life for what you will or won’t tolerate. Find something that will bring you joy.
What’s your go-to self-care routine?
Self-care is literally me sitting in my bed, opening up my bible, and either journaling or listening to worship music. Any area of my life where I’m struggling--whether I don’t want to be in a certain space or if I feel like God isn’t seeing me--I’ll read and meditate on that. So I’ll spend two hours meditating and thinking and preparing my mind.
Self-care isn’t just about putting a mask on, and I think people have marketed it to be this one day a week where you just have a spa day. Whereas I think it’s about digging down in the stuff you don’t want to get into. We’re so shocked about suicide and mental health--even with celebrities. We wonder, "Why did this person kill themselves?! They have wealth, fame, and family." Yet, we forget we're spiritual beings.. We fill our deepest voids with shopping sprees, eating disorders, sex, drinking, and partying; without ever getting to the root of why we react that way or tolerate certain behaviors
You once wrote that in your senior year of college, you worked two part-time jobs: one in an office and one as a janitor. What was that experience like and how did it shape who you are today?
I was funding my going out. I worked as a janitor at this crossFit gym, and it changed drastically what I thought about status because of how poorly you’re treated as a janitor. One time I had literally just finished cleaning a men’s urinal and was still in the room when a guy walked in and peed all over it, and didn’t even acknowledge my presence. So now, every time I see a cleaner, I acknowledge and appreciate what they do.
My style is eclectic. I wear things based on my mood but primarily menswear inspired, classic, and oversized.
Definitely these shoes! (silver ones).
“Turn your wounds in wisdom” - Oprah, I have it tattooed on me!
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