Olga's Origin Story: You Are Your Own Miracle
My holiday wishes for you don’t have much to do with cozy family time, picturesque wintry outings, or falling in love under the mistletoe. But before we get into that, I want to tell you the story of Fabled.
I can trace the history of Fabled all the way back to my childhood. I was born in Moscow, Russia and my family came to the United States when I was just shy of three years old. Early on, I got the memo that I was unacceptably different. The clothes I wore, the food I ate, how my parents spoke. Feeling excluded as a young kid hurt, so I mastered the art of blending in. The easiest way to influence how I was perceived was through changing my clothes. I had my finger on the pulse of the dress code of my peers, which I followed religiously. It took a few years but I eventually called bullshit on myself — by high school I had stopped hiding. I became less afraid of who I was and what I wanted. I started to reject mainstream style and began to understand I could challenge social norms through personal style choices. I dyed my hair green, and proudly wore thrifted bell bottoms and combat boots.
Fast forward a few years: I finished my undergrad in women’s studies and started medical school. I don’t think I need to explain here how prescriptive the path laid ahead for medical trainees is, or how rigid the road to success is depicted by the medical establishment. The pressure to act and even dress a certain way is unrelenting. There’s the fear that if you appear or behave outside the “norm” you may be perceived as unprofessional, undedicated or not good at what you do. And for women there’s the added burden of gender bias that follows you around, too.
As an attending, it wasn’t uncommon that I was mistaken for a non-physician provider. At times there’d be a family member or hospital employee who’d assume I wasn’t in charge — even when I wore a giant red badge around my neck that read “PHYSICIAN” across it. I found I had to work harder than my male colleagues to convey that I’m the boss. This phenomenon is borne out in data: a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men providers are perceived as “significantly more professional” than women providers, and that a man is more likely to be identified as a physician than a woman.
I was done being diminished, and I knew I wanted to start with my workwear. Nothing about the widely available scrubs felt right — either too casual, too cookie-cutter, or too fitted. I searched for a uniform that would communicate my senior role, and also a more elevated and empowered sense of style. I found that self-expression through the wardrobe wasn’t accessible to a physician who wore scrubs to work.
So many of my female physician peers were experiencing versions of the same challenge. I wanted better for me and better for all the badass women physicians I knew and loved. I began sketching designs for workwear that felt empowering, researching materials, and sourcing partners that could help make the dream of beautiful workwear a reality. After months of obsessive research, Fabled was born.
The Fabled woman is a badass. She’s not cutesy or demure, she’s not any of the things women physicians are pressured to be in order to “succeed”. She’s wholly herself, and it’s her that I look to when I need a confidence boost, when I need reminding that I deserve more than the medical establishment has been able to provide. Founding Fabled was a way for me to help other women physicians, but it's also how I manifest even deeper self-compassion and self-acceptance. With every piece of Fabled workwear, I want to inspire us to let our inner badass shine through.
So here’s my holiday wish for you: Between all the holiday parties, the cookie exchanges, the time spent wrapping gifts, preparing meals, running out to the store to get those last two things, and ensuring everyone else is having a happy holiday, I hope you find some time to be alone. This year, I want you to look right at yourself in the mirror and realize that you are the miracle. I want you to feel it right down into your bones.
Thank you for joining me on this journey — it means more to me than I could ever fully express.