Looking from the outside in, one may not see past the dramatic eye makeup, chunky choker and all black attire to the person underneath.
They wouldn’t know that she got up extra early to put on her makeup and pick out her outfit, regardless of whether she was staying in bed or going out with friends. And Kira Kutcher likes it that way. To her, the way she presents herself is her armor, something that makes her feel “powerful” and “confident” in her own skin, she said.
“That translates not just to how I'm being perceived by other people, but also how I perceive myself,” Kutcher said.
Growing up, if Kutcher wasn’t at the ballet studio, she was at the ice rink preparing for her next figure skating competition. It was because of the latter that she said she began to find an interest in makeup and expressing herself in a way that was considered outside of the norm.
Coming into middle school, Kutcher said she began to put more thought into her attire despite pushback from her parents.
“My parents instilled the idea that exploring fashion and caring about fashion was something superficial,” Kutcher said. “(They) always made me feel like it was something that I had to try to hide or push down.”
Now, she added, asserts herself through fashion. It has become her impenetrable armor.
Inspired by films such as Black Swan and Ex Machina and designers such as Iris van Herpen, Alexander McQueen and Rick Owens, Kutcher said her style has blossomed into one that is entirely authentic to her.
One swipe of eyeliner transformed into many. The silhouette of her outfits became more avant-garde. Her chokers began to grow in thickness and heft. Black began to infiltrate her entire wardrobe.
While Kutcher’s jet-black eyeliner, chunky choker and platform boots are what make her feel the most comfortable, she noted that her unconventional style doesn’t always translate in every setting.
In these cases, such as presenting a group project in class, Kutcher said she tries her best to find a compromise.
Instead of her staple eyeliner, she will opt for a single stroke. Instead of a distressed tunic, she will sport a blazer and a plain skirt. One thing, however, remains constant: black still permeates the look from head to toe.
In spaces where Kutcher's performance is not impacted by her style of dressing, she said her armor does exactly what it suggests.
“In a way, that translates to me feeling more comfortable and being able to take up space in a lecture hall or classroom,” Kutcher said. “For example, I feel more comfortable being able to raise my hand or actively participate in class because I have that metaphorical armor on.”
While some of her classmates may be intimidated by her appearance, she said others use it to find common ground.
In this way, she added that she is able to filter out those who she may not connect with on a personal level.
“I’ve made so many connections with people that I really value and so many close, authentic friendships through my style,” Kutcher said. “That’s something I really appreciate because the people that resonate with how I present myself are also generally people who share values in terms of self expression, values, arts, stuff like that.”
However, the question still lingers: Would people gravitate towards her if I didn’t present herself the way she does?
Though Kutcher will likely never find the answer, at the moment, she said she can’t picture herself any other way.
“There's a lot to say about having a distinctive style and having that be a part of how you affirm yourself or how you find power, but also trying to make sure that you don't conflate that with your entire identity,” Kutcher said. “It's definitely an aspect of me, but it's not all of me.”
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