CSM Style Influencer: My mom, Sela Lumepa Fonua

So many different experiences and impressions have molded and defined my fashion & style over the years.  Over the course of CSM‘s history I’ve toyed with the idea of further developing my ‘Pasifika Fashion Series‘ by adding the platform of style influencers.  I’ve received such an overwhelmingly positive feedback for this series from you the CSM community that I wanted to give you all the opportunity to tell me and the rest of the world about that special person that has played an integral role in “Using fashion as armour to walk life’s runway…” and honor them as a CSM style influencer.

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To help kick off this new layer to CSM’s ongoing ‘Pasifika Fashion Series‘ I want to introduce you to my style influencer, Mrs. Sela Lumepa (Lauhingoa) Fonua.  Growing up in a traditional conservative Tongan home in a very western world had it’s fair share of challenges and obstacles.  My mother growing up represented elegance, class and most importantly the idea of self empowerment.  As a working mother of four who constantly said phrases like “always be your own person because you is the best there is out there” and “it doesn’t matter that you are a woman, you are a Tongan woman which means you can do anything you set your mind too” it was no wonder that I never lacked in the areas of self confidence and perseverance.  These notions that my mother instilled in me were a strong juxtaposition to what my western school friends were being taught.  While I was empowered to aim for the stars but do so in a style of dress that I can best describe as ultra conservative (seriously I’m not joking, my mom had me wear tights with my shorts growing up) my friends who dressed and flaunted their western garb of freely wearing shorts without tights and sleeveless tops (I can not begin to describe how much I yearned to wear a sleeveless top) but in contrast to me a lot of my school friends aspired to be stay at home moms.  Many didn’t see a life outside of the home for themselves in the future.  Having children and staying home to raise them was all they foresaw in their futures.  While motherhood is definitely one layer of my aspirations, seeing my mother work and raise four children all while ensuring that everyday of our childhood lives we experienced the luxury of eating home cooked meals and living in an amazingly well kept home, she showed me that I can want it all AND have it all (and all while keeping true to one of her infamous pieces of style advice: Always remember that first impressions are everything so being well groomed even if it’s just to walk outside to grab the mail is important).

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While I grew up very conservative in the realm of fashion and style, the modern ideals that my mother instilled in me created the foundation for my ‘Edgy, Comfy, Chic’ aesthetic.  This traditional Tongan mom gave me the groundings to understand that while my culture is very conservative in dress we are a matriarchal society who pride ourselves in being one of the rare few who recognize the importance of giving a voice to a woman.  I’ve been able to translate that voice into defining who I am therefore has allowed for my style evolution to be such an organic process.  Empowered by this and amazing advice on old school tips for skin care with the bonus of having a daily reminder of what defines ‘timeless style’  is ultimately what lead to CSM: A Style Maven’s Diary.

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