There's a recent article on the Philippine Daily Inquirer that has been gnawing on the my brain ever since I read it. It doesn't offend me or annoy me, but I am affected by it nonetheless.
It’s not that I don’t like school. I’m just not one of those airheaded girls who just go to school to show off their latest artsy manicures, or some style they ripped off from “Gossip Girl.”
My school is already full of those girls, Blair Waldorf or Serena van der Woodsen wannabes. I wonder, when did our society cease to celebrate originality and elevate these goddesses of modern consumption?
It’s not that I have anything against these girls, but I have trouble seeing the point... Why do we actually need to get the same shade of lipstick? I entered college, not a beauty contest.
Basically, the writer is saying that she's better than her vain classmates because she doesn't wear "Gossip Girl fashion" to her school. She's always in jeans, a t-shirt, sneakers, and a Hawk bag. She rides the jeep. She denounces Victoria's Secret scents (because they "merit a biohazard warning"), as well as "those painful-looking high heels". She doesn't say it explicitly, but she thinks she's a cut above the girls who love to dress up and wear makeup.
She was bullied by girls in her school, I get it, but she's displaying a different kind of antagonism, one that I've noticed before. I've seen people who resent others who like to dress up, treating it as some kind of challenge to their personal style or way of life. They get defensive. Then they get mad.
Oh it's true that some people dress up to show off and just rub it in your face that they can afford to. Some of them are judgmental about the way other people dress. But that's not the whole story. Some of us just want to express ourselves, to play with clothes and makeup to create the best or different versions of ourselves. It's a statement. It's a game. It's not done to attract men or challenge other women - it's the most basic way to communicate our identity in a visual manner.
How I dressed in college
Don't dare mention that it takes a lot of cash to dress up. When I was in college I regularly raided thrift shops near my university. I waited for makeup sales and researched every alternative before I made a purchase with my limited student allowance. Did I do it because I wanted to model myself after "goddesses of modern consumption"? Hell no. I wanted to look nice for myself, to the point of being called "avant garde" by one of my professors. Lol. Oh and I got good grades.
I'm a superficial girl in the sense that I'm vain and I care about appearances. But that's not all I care about. I love video games, books, intelligent conversation. I'm not a goddamned philistine just because I wear high heels and a smashing red lipstick.
You know, just because a person dresses in T-shirt and jeans does not mean she doesn’t have the sophistication to be admitted in some elite circle. It doesn’t make her—and me—less of a person.
I'll tell you a secret: if you wear t-shirt and jeans all the time, it means exactly that you don't have the sophistication to be part of an elite social circle. A fashionable social circle, that is. But there are different kinds of social circles, so there's no reason to be antsy.
Edit/ addition: All that business about lazy dressing seems to have set off a few people. I understand, so I'm taking that line away to replace it with a more diplomatic explanation.
I have nothing against people who like to dress in jeans/shirts all the time. But I've always been a big believer in experimenting, in creating a signature style that's beyond what is comfortable and safe. I dress casual if I need to, but that is not my default because I want to look different. I don't want to blend in a crowd.
But that's just me. I realize that not everyone has the same preferences, and I totally respect that. I do believe that everyone is beautiful in whatever way they decide to style themselves. But I will not say it's okay to not try harder if you can and you want to.
As Bobbi Brown would say, you're pretty, but with the right makeup (and in this case, clothes) you can be pretty powerful.