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Life's not a fashion show.

Living rurally with a bold sense of style can feel isolating and scary. Here Chilli Cabello gets to break free and follow her childhood dreams of colour and costume.

Apr 29, 2023

Words: Chilli Cabello

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This is the land of puffer jackets and jeans. Amongst our terrain of grassland and farms, shiny sequins, bright feathers and bold colours are hardly native.

Living rurally with a bold sense of style can feel isolating and scary. As a kid, I dreamed of colour and costume and looking as bright as possible. But I learnt fairly quickly that people didn’t express themselves that way here – that was for the city.

This shoot encapsulates that juxtaposition of bold self-expression and the rural landscape of Gippsland. Growing up as an ethnically diverse kid in a predominantly white community came with a deep-rooted sense of otherness from a young age.

As I started to explore my creativity and identity more, I discovered quite early on that you either learn to conform or are subjected to degrading comments. I never saw others around me pushing the boundaries when it came to creative expression in my community. I felt that this wasn't an option for me down here.

These photos are for that little kid who always wanted to express herself in her community without fear of judgement or ridicule. Finally having the ability to fully embrace my outlandish style in these familiar locations was my way to stick it to everyone who ever said “Isn’t that outfit a bit too much?”

"... [this was] my way to stick it to everyone who ever said, 'Isn’t that outfit a bit too much?'"

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Photography // Serena Cabello and Ruby Watson

Art direction, make-up, wardrobe and modelling // Chilli Cabello

Gippslandia - Issue No. 30

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