THE SANTA CLARA
October 24, 2013
I love dressing up, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
For the longest time, I thought it was shallow to love the “prettiness” of things. I didn’t want to compare myself to models, or be one of those girls who wore makeup, high heels or curled her hair.
I prided myself in not being vain, in wearing jeans and baseball hats.
I went as far away from the definition of “pretty” as I could by dressing down, in my efforts to prove how unobsessed I was with peoples’ wardrobes.
But in high school I realized that, despite my best efforts, an obsession with looks had still found its way into my head.
Beauty — other people’s and my own — was all I could think about.
Society’s twisted portrayal of beauty in advertisements, movies, magazines and music has negatively impacted impressionable youths of all ages and genders.
I don’t doubt that’s the case to a certain degree (I’ve seen too many four-year-olds in miniskirts crying about a bad hair day).
But there’s another beauty trap many more people fall into, and I’ve found it to be a bit more distressing: that wanting to be beautiful is wrong.
It was this type of obsession with beauty — more correctly, this distaste for beauty — that had so silently slithered into my mind. That people who fashioned themselves were trying too hard, that they were just looking for attention. Instead of appreciating the person within the suit, I’d judge the tie and the ruffles, the mascara and combed hair.
And that, I discovered, was more vain and arrogant than I had thought obsessing over fashion would make me.
While it shouldn’t be a crime to feel comfortable in your clothes, it also shouldn’t be a crime to want to look nice. I’ve learned that you deserve to look and feel your best, and if that’s in a casual T-shirt or a fancy dress, then who cares what anyone thinks? Being comfortable is more important.
The only person you should feel the need to dress up for is yourself. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look nice. Wanting to be handsome or pretty isn’t vain. It’s being expressive.
There have been too many moments here at Santa Clara where I’ve overheard snide comments on how overdressed someone looks. With girls, it’s considered slutty if they take the time to look pretty. With boys, it’s considered even stranger to see them dress well.
The moment anyone stands out from the norm by dressing up, it’s as if they need instantly to be shot down. Even comments that start with a compliment end in some variation of inquiring why they had to dress up.
Call me girly, but I enjoy dressing up. It’s not just for the bubbly feeling I get when I randomly notice my reflection as I walk by the library windows. I feel more active and brighter to face the day after getting all dolled up in the morning.
It’s a boost of confidence when you’re comfortable with your looks. You can focus on things that actually matter without constantly wondering what people think of you.
And while my casual attire usually consists of a nice dress and a colorful scarf, there are days where I lazily throw on yoga pants and a hoodie.
And I’m pretty darn content like that, too.
The one constant on both occasions? It was my decision. Whether I’m in slacks or skirts, sneakers or heels, I’m always just dressing for myself.
Nabilah Deen is a junior civil engineering major.