Lately, I’ve been finding myself paying closer attention to fashion trends, watching fashion shows on YouTube and following fashion influencers on social media. I love looking at everyone’s unique style, and I believe that fashion is one of the best ways to express yourself.

The media we consume, the people we’re around, and the environment we’re in affect how we dress and express ourselves. When I was in high school, I was afraid to wear the clothes I wanted because I feared I would be made fun of. Sure enough, when I wore an item that seemed normal to me but was considered too bold for my classmates — a pair of bright purple cargo pants with neon orange accents — people laughed at me in the halls. I remember shoving those pants into the back of my closet and never wanting to wear them again.

Now, I don’t care as much; I like wearing a bit of everything — colorful clothes, preppy style, Y2K, streetwear. Maybe it’s because I’m in college now, and college students have more important things to worry about than what someone else wears, but I finally feel like I can dress the way I want. After all, what I wear is how I express myself.

I take fashion inspiration from my favorite things — streetwear and Y2K inspiration from my favorite K-pop idols, prep-school inspiration from my favorite anime, and girly inspiration from my favorite movies, such as “Legally Blonde.” 

Another thing I’ve started wearing is merchandise for my favorite shows and musical artists. When I was in high school, I never wore any of the t-shirts I’d bought of my favorite anime characters. Growing up in a very conservative town, it wasn’t socially acceptable to like anime at my school. I’ll never forget the time I wore a sweatshirt of my favorite K-pop group and my classmates made fun of me by purposely mispronouncing the members’ names. Racism was something they found funny, apparently.

What we wear tells a story about who we are. I wish I would’ve worn the clothes I wanted to wear more often, even if I got made fun of. At the end of the day, this is who I am, and I’m not going to change myself for anyone. High school is when you start to experiment with different styles and develop your own, and you should be able to do so freely. 

Thankfully, I’ve learned not to care what people think about my clothing. I wear different styles of clothing and my K-pop and anime merchandise freely, put on colorful makeup, and wear very loud accessories (gummy bears were meant to be on necklaces and hair clips). When I go outside wearing what I like to wear, I feel confident and more like myself. I no longer feel like I’m wearing clothes that will make me blend in with the crowd. 

Blending in with the crowd is boring anyway. It’s more fun to stand out.

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