The Power & Protection of Our Clothing

The Power & Protection of Our Clothing

Back in 2022, our good friend and neighbor Cecilia Polanco reached out to us about creating a custom piece they wanted to wear at the Supreme Court. Immediately, we thought about using our indigo from El Salvador. Our indigo has preserved through a Civil War, natural disasters, and much more. It has shown resilience and hope for our people just like Cecilia and the work they do in education equity.

The story they share with us is about leveraging our identity as power to show up as our unapologetic selves. 

As a little person, my family struggled to put me in dresses for my birthday parties because I wanted to run, crawl, and get dirty playing and having fun. I fussed over tags and stitching that irritated my skin and overstimulated my senses. I’d cry from the discomfort and leave behind a trail of clothing as I stripped down to freedom!

Nowadays you’ll still find me trading appearance for comfort on most days. Soft and flowy clothing that feels good on my skin, warm and flex fitting pieces that allow for rest, movement, stretching and random dancing! While as a homebody my clothing choices aren’t for viewing for the general public, when it comes to being in the spotlight, standing for an issue that’s important to me, and taking up space when it comes to being an activist, how I chose to show up in a “professional” settings is part of shifting narratives around power and integrating ways I practice physical and spiritual protection. 


When I learned I would have an opportunity to be present at the Supreme Court for the hearing around Affirmative Action, I knew my presence there would be meaningful representation for our immigrant/Latinx community.

It is likely that myself and Justice Sonya Sotomayor were among the few Latinas in the room. So when I thought of how I wanted to show up in a space like the Supreme Court, an opportunity of a lifetime, I reached out to Descalza for support in looking good and feeling good in culturally affirming fashion.

I saw this collaboration with Descalza as an opportunity to represent my cultural Salvadoran heritage by wearing Indigo dyed cloth crafted by Salvadoran artisans. The Kimono style shawl along with my big frizzy hair and signature shades to hold the buscanovix in place (this was before I dig a big hair chop) made me feel Latina af, an identity I walk in proudly and cannot and do not want to hide.


I got involved in the Affirmative Action case through my activism work around Education equity. There is power in obtaining higher education and the systemic barriers that exist keep nuestra gente from accessing higher education, whether it be due to status, financial aid, navigating institutions of higher education as first generation college students, and/or other factors.

So when we show up for more equitable systems, we step into our power. When we show up unapologetically ourselves, we step into our power. When we wear our identities with pride, that is power. And when I sage myself before and after climbing the steps into the Supreme Court, I clothe myself with fabric from my motherland, and I ask my ancestors for strength and clarity from which to create change, that is protection. 


I saw this piece as a form of armor.

I put it on to feel comfort, to feel confident and powerful, and as a reminder that my roots and lineage walk with me and I am never alone.

It’s also a reminder that although we are a family of immigrants and the United States is now our home, that our survival, resilience, and thriving comes from who our people were, are, and will be: powerful and protected. Living our lives with purpose, accepting and claiming our cultural strengths and generational power are meaningful ways I live my life and fuel my activism.

I align with Descalza for those reasons, and being intentional about what I was wearing for this major moment was a stylish contrast to the monotonia de todos los dias.

Thank you Descalza for helping me look good and feel good as I move through this world as an agent of positive change para nuestra gente y para todxs!

-Cecilia Polanco

If you're interested in collaborating on a meaningful piece together for a special event, email us at P.S. Cecilia's custom piece is now available here