When you think of science, wildlife, or conservation, probably the last thing you think about is being fancy.
I have always loved wildlife and nature. But I also have always loved dressing up, putting on makeup, and fashion. When I was a young girl, I would get muddy looking for crayfish in creeks, and catch (and release) frogs and snakes, but I also played dress-up with my friends, trying on my mom’s clothes and makeup, and getting my Barbies glamorous for their dates. I loved drawing and would draw scenes of grizzly bears catching salmon and on the next page a series of fashion designs.
When I found out about careers in wildlife biology, I was elated because I could finally turn my love of wildlife into a profession, but I quickly found out that I didn’t quite fit in. Most people wore Tevas and brands like Columbia and Patagonia to work, which I love, but I reserved for the field. Instead, I wore dressy blouses, shoes with heels, and sparkly jewelry. Hardly any of my colleagues wore any makeup at all, meanwhile I loved to experiment with different shades of eyeshadow every day.
In graduate school, although I loved dressing up and wearing makeup, I didn’t feel comfortable doing it because I was worried people were judging me or thinking I spent too much time on those things over science (which is not true). Although I was fancier than most, I held back a lot, and quite honestly, didn’t feel that good. Not being able to wear colorful makeup and sparkles dampened my spirit and my confidence.