SHEEN Magazine caught up with twin sisters Karli Harvey-Raymond and Brandi Harvey at Walt Disney World Resort for the 2016 Disney Dreamers Academy, hosted by their father Emmy-Award winning comedian, radio host, and best-selling author Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine. Now in its ninth year, the Disney Dreamers Academy selected 100 Dreamers out of thousands of applicants to receive an all-expense-paid trip to attend the academy along with a parent or guardian.
The stylish sisters hosted an Image Awareness forum during the three-day weekend to teach young teenage girls on how style and confidence are interchangeable. During the seminar, the sisters used several illustrations of various modes of style to instill values in the young dreamers of self-worth, confidence, and respect.
Check out what Brandi and Karli had to say.
How has social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram influenced the millennial generation’s perception of style?
Brandi Harvey: Millennials focus so much on being sexy and hot. Celebrity style has such an influence over them, whatever they see on the red carpet they want to duplicate that look. So having their own style is not their focus. It is really about how I can look like one of the Kardashians as opposed to looking like their authentic selves.
Karli Harvey-Raymond: We are definitely in an age of a more revealing generation where less is more. They feel like if crop tops and booty shorts are in, then that’s what [they] want to wear.
Brandi: They want to be on trend all the time and not set the trend. What we try to teach is that you can set your own style forecast. You don’t have to follow what’s hot; you can determine that with finding the look that works for you. Karli always speaks to the fact that she wears a very basic silhouette dress, and she plays it up with a jacket or a fun vest. Once you find something that works for you, you can own that and always look good because it’s timeless. You don’t have to follow the trends; you can find what works for you and just build on it.
Karli: [We want to] show girls you don’t have to walk out with no clothes on, you can still be attractive, you can look sexy, and you can still look great. You can be fully covered and still look great.
What values do you want the Dreamer girls to take from the seminar?
Brandi: That their style is their own, we always end [the seminar] with rock it, own it, love it. Your style is what you make it. You don’t have to be the carbon copy of anybody. You can be your own individual. Appearances are very important; it is the first thing people see when you walk into the room, it’s how you present yourself. If you dress provocatively, you are going to get that type of attention, but if you dress in a very classy, elegant, and a sophisticated way you will receive that [kind] of attention and people will address you as such. It really depends on how do you want to be known, how do you want to be noticed.
Karli: And how do you want to be remembered.
Most teenage girls are dealing with the issue of self-assurance at this age. Have you both always felt confident about yourselves, if not, when did you both start to feel confident?
Brandi: We had a great mom. Our mother instilled in us the confidence and self-esteem. She always taught us no matter what anybody else said; we are beautiful, wonderful individuals and human beings, and she raised us to be that. She taught us how to own a room; how to be confident, we grew up in the church so we were public speaking all the time and I think that helped build our confidence. Being in community service activities helped build our confidence. All those things played a major part in who we are. I don’t think we ever struggled with not being confident—
Karli: In our abilities. But I think our confidence took a blow when we went to school. Growing up and going to high school, [during that time] there were some tough blows that we had to overcome. So in those moments it was tough, it wasn’t easy. You have to give yourself a constant pep talk. Even now people think that oh yeah [we] feel great every day, no it is a journey.
Brandi: We are not the standard of beauty in this country. We are not what is deemed beautiful, our features are not considered beautiful in this country—
Karli: By the masses.
Brandi: What we try to give girls is to set an example, even with your kinky hair and full lips and full hips and brown skin, and all this melanin you got poppin’ you can still be beautiful because you are. Every culture and every mass media market emulate black women. They take all of our features and remix it; now we are looking at a boxer braid trend, but we have been rockin’ cornrows since the beginning of time. I think we try to set an example and standard that black women are classy, sophisticated, that we bring a level of style that only we can bring, and we want to show girls that. When they see us, they see themselves, but when we see them we see ourselves, and we want them to have the best example in front of them as possible.
For more information about the Disney Dreamer Academy, please visit www.disneydreamersacademy.com.
photos by: Gregg Newton