Wearing self-esteem

(First published in the October 25, 2018 issue of City Pages)

Be Your Own Biggest Fan is a local clothing startup aiming at promoting self-love and appreciation.


Be Your Own Biggest Fan

Deb Harris, shown here with her daughter Addie, started Be Your Own Biggest Fan, a clothing line dedicated to promoting a positive self-image.

The genesis for the clothing line Be Your Own Biggest Fan began during a low point in Debbie Harris’s life in which she felt she had wished her life away. Struggling with depression and anxiety she had two choices: to stay down or go up. “In 2014 I began to work out and practice self-care. I got back into running, ate healthy, listened to positive motivational videos and music, and started setting and achieving goals,” she says. “If it wasn’t positive I didn’t keep it around me.”

One day in 2016 while working out at the YMCA in La Crosse, Harris noticed that her sweaty ‘Positive Mind Positive Vibes Positive Life’ tank left a backward outline of the affirmation written on her shirt on the bench she had just been laying on. She was able to read the word. “I turned and looked in the mirror and realized that I couldn’t read the message meant to empower me,” she says. That’s when an idea struck. “The only time we see ourselves is when we look in the mirror or in photos.” She left the YMCA and immediately drove to a print shop to have prototypes for shirts made.

Harris soon started Be Your Own Biggest Fan. The name of her company is a personal mantra of Harris and her wish for other people so they believe in themselves, too. “Believing in myself has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done; I held myself back in so many ways and once I realized that my opinion of myself is the only one that matters, it’s an empowering feeling.”

She’s starting off with tanks, tees, and hats and the print on them is written backward. When the wearer looks in the mirror, they can see the empowering word. Currently, Harris is scribing positive affirmations on her merchandise like the words “strong” and “fearless.” “It’s truly for the person wearing it,” she says. “People love to see their ‘secret message’ cheering them on all day.” She hopes to one day sell men’s and children’s pieces, as well as jewelry.

Harris also wants to give back to our community and plans to set aside a portion of profits for children in foster care in memory of her sister who lost her life to child abuse many years ago.

Harris started with the goal to help at least one person with her message. “I received a note from the daughter of a friend who I sent a tank to,” says Harris. “She was battling breast cancer and the tank became her new favorite thing to wear. She sent me a message on Facebook wearing the tank, her hair had fallen out from chemo but her eyes and smile were so bright, it meant the world to me.”

Harris wants people to remember that life is short. “Tell people you love that you love them and don’t forget the person that you look at in the mirror. Take care of that person too.”

Of her idea to start Be Your Own Biggest Fan, she says she’s glad she is going for it and hopes others will take a leap of faith and accomplish their dreams. “What is that thing you really want to do?” she asks. “Do it! Does it sound crazy? Good. Do it. Be your own biggest fan.”

Be Your Own Biggest Fan can be found soon on their upcoming online store at: www.beyourownbiggestfan.com. Be Your Own Biggest Fan tanks are for sale at Poppy’s Boutique in downtown Wausau as well as pop-ups at The Local on Small Business Saturday and other community events. Find Be Your Own Biggest Fan on Facebook.