My Uniform: Nutritionist Selena Ayala

My Uniform: Nutritionist Selena Ayala

Model and integrative nutritionist Selena Ayala lives in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn. Where she lives is just as important and what she does—as Selena truly defines the word “integration,” something we learned after spending an afternoon with her for this photoshoot. Like many Brooklyn neighborhoods, Bed-Stuy boasts a community that includes generations of families, largely BIPOC, who have lived, cared and contributed to it. Selena’s dedication to community is evident in her work: One facet of her nutritional consulting are 30 minute phone calls with a “pay what you wish” policy, 50% of these donations go to a Bed-Stuy food pantry. There’s something completely holistic about her approach to business, not unlike her approach to getting dressed. Which is why one often touches on the other as you will learn, but we’ll let her take it from here…

ON EARLY STYLE

I grew up in Long Beach, California. I was the first grandchild in my father's family, not to mention the only girl. With a traditional Puerto Rican father, ruffled dresses and patent leather Mary Janes were my destiny. My mother and father customized most of the dresses that I wore, mostly from a local dress shop in Bixby Knolls, California. This dress shop, owned by a woman named Luan, has been a fixture in Long Beach for 64 years. I remember wearing a dress nearly every day until the age of 11, except on weekends when I lived in tomboy clothing. Around my teenage years a mixture of skate culture, Catholic school uniforms, and sneakerhead culture described my style. In middle school, I wore a prep school uniform, white-collar shirt, and my choices for bottoms were a navy blue pleated skirt or pleated shorts. I secretly thought uniforms were very chic so very early on I mastered the art of a uniform, and having a signature style. Perhaps, my childhood school uniform fostered my minimalist aesthetic! To add on my signature look I decorated with colorful accessories, handmade bracelets, and necklaces, obscure sneakers, or athletic two striped socks. My style and perceptions of beauty standards evolved as I started my career in fashion as a professional model. I did a lot of interpersonal work in shifting my perception of social constructs regarding beauty standards, while shifting my awareness of my style and how it affected my confidence. As I became wiser I realized that clothes couldn’t solve my problem and that confidence and self-expression can be stylized.

 

ON GETTING DRESSED IN QUARANTINE

On many days I've stood before a mirror and thought, “Do I need to get dressed today?” 

Behind my own front door, I’m usually in some version of sleep or loungewear. For work I have to feel absolutely unhindered by elastic, buttons, collars, belts, and zips. On days when I need to wear functional clothes,  I consider this wisdom stated by my friend Muska (but without the flowery language of a proverb) “Dress better than you feel.” On days like this, I love the ease of a dress. Extreme minimalist is how I would describe my style, more generally. I like contrasting textures, and colors.  I wear very few accessories and I often add a masculine touch to my look because I don't like an outfit that is too girly.

Somedays I read Morning Haiku by Sonia Sanchez. I take in a few words to capture a moment and translate her words into my style for the day. I am intentional and deliberate with my style. 

 

ON SELF-CARE DURING THE CURRENT NORMAL

I can’t think about this in a singular context but I can say that I am only as strong as my community. My personal experience during this moment is reserved for safe space with the BIPOC community. I can say the unveiling of the pandemic has affected how I show up for my family and my online community and how I choose to spend my time. I understand the value of self- preservation and I am caring for myself. I’d like to close this with a quote from a book titled, Sister Outsiders by Audre Lorde, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” 

 

THREE THINGS WITH SELENA

3 unexpected, healthy ingredients everyone should have in their pantry.

  1. White rice, it’s easily digestible and good for Congee, a healing soup.
  2. Good quality whiskey (pantry principle to make tinctures)
  3. Bee pollen

 

3 things making quarantine a bit more joyful for you.

  1. Assembling puzzles 
  2. Baking with my daughter Jada-Inam 
  3. Pouring a bath for myself

 

Your uniform, in 3 pieces.

  1. Vintage
  2. Silk
  3. Cotton
  4. Clogs (that’s four, but the clogs are essential)



Thank you Selena! 

 

Selena was photographed in NYC by Taylor Jewell.

Futher Reading