Meet 3 Berlin Style Stars Who Are All About Confidence, Not Conformity

Every hero has an origin story: the conflicts, the doubts, the unique strengths that powered them past the negativity. And while each of the three members of this Berlin girl gang has all that in spades, they’re not heroes — they’re their own champions.
Heroes get put on pedestals. These young women, meanwhile, are simply embracing their true selves — quirks and all — in a society that often scoffs at non-conformity and "weirdness". Though their backgrounds are as varied as their personal style, they’re bound by a common mission: blazing trails with an independent spirit and an empowering message of self-worth and tolerance, even when others would break them down.
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Refinery29 has teamed up with Converse One Star to celebrate the confidence, individuality and diversity this expectation-smashing squad represents. Meet Amanda, Lili and Melis: three style stars making waves in Berlin on their own terms and guided by their personal growth. Call them rebels. Call them anti-heroes. Call them inspiring. They won’t be limited by labels, but they’re undeniable proof that authenticity and acceptance — not to mention truly individualistic personal style — translates across all cultures.
Read on as they share their experiences of learning to love themselves — and others — inside and out.
Photography: Joanna Legid/ Styling: Anna Baur
Converse One Star, £65 Amanda Blouse: M.i.h. Jeans, Tracksuit: Wood Wood, Lili Tracksuit: Sandro, Melis Top: Vivetta, Tracksuit: P.E. Nation
“I used to find my hair weird, but today I’m proud of it. When I came to Germany, I had a buzz cut and people often thought I was a boy. When my hair grew a bit longer, I had it braided and chemically straightened, which was — and still is — a common thing to do among black girls. As a teen I even tried out a mohawk.
“A few years ago the natural hair movement finally got through to me. My sister switched to a natural look, and I followed her example. That was a good and important step for me. Images of other women on Tumblr and Instagram were also definitely helpful in overcoming my negative self-assessment. YouTube tutorials taught me how to handle my hair. Observing my sisters and cousins — how they looked with their natural hair and their hair routines — was also very important. Up until recently, the way black women are meant to look was strictly defined. I came to realise that every woman is confident in a different way.
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“My definition of confidence is to be genuine. I admire people who stand up for their opinions and beliefs, despite common trends or whether others share their opinion. To me, confidence also means to be perceptive. To me, someone is confident when they’re able to incorporate other people’s realities into their own perspective of the world.”
“Even at only age 6, I already thought that my teeth were weird. Instead of an overbite or crooked teeth, mine were weirdly bent backwards. I don’t know why it bothered me so much back then. I remember comparing myself a lot to the other kids, and making sure to keep my mouth closed in order to hide my teeth. This changed when I was 8 or so. I was on holiday by the Baltic Sea and a boy told me that my laugh was ‘super cool’! From that day onwards I stopped caring about my teeth; I even rejected braces, which I could have had.
“I do think that some people who observe and examine me on public transport find my style curious. People also often tell me that my haircut makes me look like I just jumped out of a time machine from the ‘80s. I suffered from hair loss when I was 16 after I was prescribed a strong antibiotic. That’s why my hair isn’t very long and looks kind of wild. I hated it in the beginning. Now I like it. That’s because I’m more confident now than I was back then. I owe that mostly to my friends. I used to interrupt and talk over people a lot. It did hurt to then be called dominant and inconsiderate. I didn’t see myself that way as a young girl. But when I think about it now, I can admit that it was true. However, I’m not ashamed of it. When you’re young you should be allowed to make mistakes. That’s the only way to learn.
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“But my constant carefree laugh has made some people question whether I could ever even feel sad. It bothers me when others say that I’m always like a happy ray of sunshine. It makes me feel trapped in a one-dimensional box. I don’t want to feel like I have to live up to the expectation that I’m always in a good mood. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop laughing.”
Foto: Joanna Legid/ Styling: Anna Baur
"As an Alevist Kurd, born in Turkey and raised in Germany, my teenage years weren’t so easy. From the moment I began to become more feminine, my parents’ concerns began to grow — and so did my stance as an adolescent woman between two cultures. I wanted to do the things that every normal teenager was doing, but because I was a girl a lot of things were off-limits. I rebelled in every possible way. Suddenly, the poster child with the perfect grades wasn’t so presentable anymore. Because I couldn’t take it anymore, I left my home when I was very young. I had time to heal and to find my way back to myself — to become a kind of Melis 2.0.
“Sometimes, though rarely, I have doubts over whether or not I am doing the right thing with my life. But that thought quickly vanishes. What even is right or wrong? I know that I’m not perfect and that I’ve done things that could have been handled differently. My entire journey throughout my youth was a bumpy ride: adventurous, lonely, misunderstood, exciting, uncertain… and yet, every decision was my own and I’ve dealt with the consequences and didn’t let anyone stop me.
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“Today, the source of my confidence is my respect and love for myself. I strongly believe that you can only make others happy if you value yourself and make yourself happy. I’ve genuinely learned what it means to be a part of this world. I get my positive energy from who I am and what I surround myself with. My empathy for others has opened my eyes. I started seeing things I didn’t see before. I’m not afraid to take risks and to make decisions in life. Safety isn’t everything. Simply doing something that I’m not passionate about is out of the question for me. I want to live and chase my dreams, because I truly appreciate life. I don’t want to lose my grit, even if it’s hard to get up and be productive some days – I know the next day will follow, and it might look completely different. We set our own limits. If we understand ourselves and our world, and connect our bodies and souls, it forms the most genuine energy and will to be yourself, which, by the way, is the most freeing feeling of all.”
Foto: Joanna Legid/ Styling: Anna Baur
Converse One Star, £65 Amanda Jacket: Wood Wood, Top: Alles Berlin, Jeans: Weekday
Lili Tracksuit bottoms: Björn Borg Kleid, Long sleeved top: Converse Melis Top: Alles Berlin, Jeans: Wood Wood, Jacket: Converse
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