The Danger of Trends and Style Standards

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Let me preface this by saying that I’m not a trendy person at all. I don’t completely hate all of today's trends; they just don’t work on me. Different strokes, I guess. I’m not here to rant about the styles themselves. Nope, I have no problem with wanting to be trendy. The big issue here is how far girls will go in order to meet today’s silly style standards. I know it seems weird, but think about it. On an average day, you’ll see at least ten girls who are wearing very similar outfits. This becomes especially relevant on a day where it’s required that students “dress up” for a presentation. With more access to advertisements and influence from TV and the internet accessible now than ever before, girls are force-fed this image of what’s “cool” and often sacrifice good fit for the latest trends, or worse, go to drastic measures to fit this standard.

Before you all jump down my throat, let me explain something. I like fashion a lot, and I see clothes as a way to enhance your shape and express yourself. Clothes that fit well can really boost a person’s confidence. The alarming trend here is that instead of buying clothes that fit, girls are desperately trying to alter themselves in order to fit into this very narrow window of what’s considered cool. It’s been happening forever, but it’s become especially popular now with the rise of “one-size-fits-all” stores such as Brandy Melville. Brandy Melville is the only one of these stores that I have experience with, but when I went shopping there, it was apparent that their one size did NOT “fit all.” When I asked a sales clerk about different sizes, she took one look at me and said “oh honey… it’s gonna be really hard to find something for you here.” What was that? This can’t possibly be a good message for the teenage girls of America, especially because so many struggle with eating disorders, desperately trying to fit into these clothes in order to be “cool.” Now let me set one thing straight. I’m not overweight at all. The last time I checked, I was about average weight for my height, right in the middle of the “normal” section of the BMI scale. These “one size fits all” stores cater to the very small cross-section of the female population that is skinny, waif-like teenagers. This isn’t a bad thing, per se, but the fact that they label themselves “one size fits all” is a little frightening. If a girl goes shopping and can’t find anything that fits in the whole store that’s supposed to “fit all,” obviously that’s going to put quite a dent in her self-esteem.

The media puts so much pressure on girls to be pretty, but the sad part is that it defines “pretty” as one thing. Skinny and tall with stick-straight hair and bright eyes, lined in the most dramatic colors and without a wrinkle or stray hair in sight. The truth is, nobody looks like that. Not even the models in the magazines really look like that. Every girl is amazing and beautiful, and as a society we need to stop focusing on what’s “wrong” and start looking at what’s right. Instead of worrying that the bags under my eyes and my wavy hair don’t fit into the norm, I’m coming out right now and saying that I love my face and hair, down to every last smile line and flyaway. These “imperfections” are what gives me character. Who came up with this “standard” for beauty anyways? It’s completely unattainable, and instead of chasing after it, girls should be more focused on creating what works to make them feel better. You can put on as many hair extensions and fake tan as you want, but deep down, you’ll know it’s not really you. Instead, think about who you are. Think about your favorite part about yourself. What is it that you can show the world to say “hey, this is me, I’m special and unique”?

These “trendy” clothes serve no one. People follow these trends like mindless sheep, not even thinking about how ridiculous they may be. Do you really need a pair of space-printed leggings or another see-through lace top? What about that bralette? Seriously, it’s not even a whole shirt. Where are you ever going to wear that? These clothes may look cute for a little bit, but they’re simply impractical. I’ve always been taught to buy really nice classic clothes that last a long time instead of ill-fitting trendy clothes that go out of style after a season. This has a dual purpose. I may be wrong here, but I feel like these trends only fit a very narrow range of body types. Looking good in clothes doesn’t mean throwing whatever’s trendy regardless of fit. That’s not going to make heads turn as you walk down the hallway. Good fit is crucial to confidence and style, and that’s being thrown out the window, especially with teenagers. Sure, I may get a few weird looks when I show up in my pencil skirt and sweater combo on mock trial day. It may not be the norm in terms of teenage style, but it works for me and makes me feel confident and pretty. I think it’s disgusting that girls are shamed for wearing what makes them happy! This is one of the main reasons that girls are afraid of exploring and creating their own styles, and frankly it’s a little ridiculous. There are so many styles out there that are available, and with the wide range of stores and sizes available, there’s something for everyone. If I’ve learned one thing from late-night binge watching of What Not To Wear, it’s to find the styles and cuts that enhance you! You’re the focus here, not that top you’re wearing. A lot of insecurity comes out of not fitting into the trendiest clothes or feeling weird about wearing something that’s not really “you.” No one is forcing you to wear this crap! Style shouldn’t be about following everyone else. Style should be about finding the clothes that fit you and make you happy. The fun part is the exploring and the incredible rush you get when something fits right. Why throw that away for a silly trend that’ll just make you insecure?

Now this may not change, ever. Next weekend, I still may be the youngest person hanging out at Brooks Brothers and Talbots trying on dress shirts and cardigans, but that’s okay. I know this won’t mean anything to a lot of people, but to all the girls out there who struggle with body image, look around. You’re not trapped in this forever. There are so many options around you, and the good thing about this whole “trendy” business is that you’re in an open cage. You don’t need these stupid brand labels. In ten years, no one is going to care that you wore the same Forever 21 top as everyone else. Make this your time to shine and find something that’ll give you that rush of joy every time you put it on, and you’ll be sure to leave the house thinking, “I look fabulous.”

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