Every now and then, I’ll look at my still-burgeoning career as a collegiate journalist—specifically a collegiate journalist that writes a fashion column—and suffer a bit of an existential crisis. Out of all the things that matter in the world, I write about what seems like the most trivial subject.
There are reporters out there in dangerous war zones or investigating political powers, but way, way down at the bottom of the metaphorical totem pole of journalism is fashion and beauty.
This is the kind of stuff giggly middle school girls read at sleepovers, complete with totally scientific quizzes like, “What nail polish suits your personality?” This isn’t hard-hitting journalism. This is the newspaper equivalent of a Happy Meal toy—colorful and fun, but provides no meat or nutritional substance and has a tendency to wind up at the bottom of a landfill when the novelty wears off.
So I got to thinking, why do looks matter? Why do some girls spend hours in the mirror every morning? Why would a guy drop so much cash on a pair of shoes that won’t last but a few months?
I think that there is a reason behind this. Subconsciously or not, we all know that our looks are an advertisement of who we are on the inside. Think of your clothes, hair and persona as a personal ad that screams, “This is who I am, and this is what I’m about.” People look at that and decide if you’re someone that they would click with.
So all those Disney movies were wrong—outer beauty does matter. Well, not quite. Beauty is subjective; one person’s drop-dead gorgeous could be repulsive to someone else.
Guys, do you have to be a strapping, six-foot tall muscly Greek Adonis? Girls, do you have to be a fake-tanned, D-cupped, bottle-blonde cookie cutter? Not by any means. In fact, by attempting to conform to these “standards” of beauty, you’re defeating the entire purpose of fashion, which is to reflect to outsiders who you really are. Unless you really are Pamela Anderson, you’re failing.
The trick is to discover who you are. Here is a challenge: If you were given a thousand bucks and told to buy an entirely new wardrobe that reflected your own style, could you do it? Not the styles people have imposed on you throughout the years and not the styles of the kids you desperately wanted to fit in with in high school—just the things that you like.
If your clothes are chosen to be an honest reflection of who you are, you’ll find yourself much more confident. As a direct result, people will be drawn to you and your originality, and they’ll get to know your true beauty—who you are as a human being.
This isn’t an easy task. We spend our entire lives having these ideals and trends shoved down our throat. Here’s a list of what all the cool kids are wearing. Wear this, and maybe you can hang with them. Who knows, maybe that hot guy in your math class will talk to you now.
I don’t want to run that kind of fashion column. Fashion doesn’t have to be shallow. Treat it as the expressive art form that it is, and it will be anything but shallow.
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