Instead of being a fashion follower, focus on individuality

“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.”

~Gianni Versace

When I walk through the school hallways, I often hear people remarking on someone’s outfit. There have been times when I have been the subject of this not-so-subtle scrutiny as well. Maybe there was someone else being judged when I overheard a girl telling her friend, “Oh my God! Look at what she’s wearing. What is wrong with her fashion sense?” I didn’t know if it was directed towards me, but even if it wasn’t, it annoyed me.  

It irked me because I knew that whoever it was directed towards would spend an hour planning her next outfit, second-guessing every choice. Her mind would be overshadowed by insecurities and self-doubt. It irked me because I know that fashion trends have an adverse effect on the youth these days. Trends can impact people’s health, identity, and originality, and they can even lead to bullying.

When people are ideally supposed to treat themselves and each other on the basis of positive attributes such as compassion and similar moral ethics, often the case is not that at all. Rather it is highly dependent on how you look or how expensive that pair of boots you’re wearing is. Fashion trends have always been considered a matter of status. If you’re not wearing that new hat Gucci released last week, you aren’t considered the “coolest” person in the circle anymore.

Consciousness towards style is highly prioritized, especially in teenagers’ lives — rather unnecessarily. People risk their health to fit the criteria of what is considered pretty. People lose who they truly are on the route of fitting into trends they feel obliged to follow. Teenagers, in particular, have it hard because of the social burden of being scrutinized and criticized.

However, I personally believe that following every other trend is just a waste of time and money because not all styles look good on everyone, and besides, we should stop following trends and focus on what enhances our own identities. Too much dependence on following fashion trends slowly dilutes the original identity of the person, their beliefs, and convictions and relegates their identity as just “another brick in the wall.” The senseless following of fashion trends is detrimental to the original, creative, unique character of an individual.

Following fashion trends is a significant variable contributing to our social acceptance. Hereby the question arises. Is it worth it? Is losing your own sense of originality worth it? Is losing your physical well-being worth it? Is pressuring your parents when they are financially incapable of buying you the same expensive dresses as your friend worth it? I think not.

Now, if we dig deeper we’ll see that the crazy amount of importance associated with fashion trends isn’t anything random. This irrational rage is dictated by celebrities and commercial fashion houses by deliberate and desperate use of media campaigning and social networking sites to create a perception that something, in particular, is trendy. Designers and famous brands hire professional, beautiful, and incredibly skinny models to advertise their clothing, or products through photo shoots published in high-end fashion magazines and posting them on social networking sites. Such as Page 3, a fashion page given as weekly attachments with prominent daily newspapers catered to the ultrarich celebrities and other high profile personalities of cinema, sports, businesses, and other prominent professions.

All these platforms mentioned above are only some of the few modes of popularising some trends and brands. But the simpler, more effective platform is social media, where teens are stalking Instagram models persistently in order to follow their diets and workout routine. And then begins the constant cycle of starving themselves, counting every calorie they consume and pushing their bodies to limits where they can quite literally collapse.

And let’s be very honest. Some trends are just as ridiculous as they are unnecessary. But a fashion addict will always judge a thing based on brand and price, thereby losing sight of more significant parameters like need, comfort, convenience, durability, etc. In the London Fashion Week of 2011, a model wore a dress made of 3000 cow and yak nipples, in 2017 Topshop introduced the  “window pane mom jeans,” and in 2018 Chanel introduced a $1000 “plastic rain hat,” which is just a transparent hat made of plastic. These outfits are unreasonably expensive and downright bizarre looking, but will the fashion addict be able to see through that? I highly doubt that.

In a typical high school scenario, the more you follow a trend, the more people want to talk to you. It somewhat marks the beginnings of a person gaining popularity. This craze over fashion is so widespread and so intense that children tend to forget all their moral values. People these days do not even make any attempts to know a person if they do not have high-fashion standards or are not as good-looking as them. They just assume that the person is “boring” and average.

There have been many cases of children being bullied by their classmates for not meeting their classmates’ fashion standards. They are also constantly isolated and subjected to insulting names by their classmates because of such imbecile reasons. This leads to children losing their self-esteem and parents are also dragged into this matter as they are often pressurized by their children and hurt to see their children so unhappy.

I am sure that more than half of the students at Woodstock wear branded outfits every day. In fact, most of us only have branded clothes. However, people are still judged by their classmates and sometimes isolated for not meeting up with their expected fashion standards.

At Woodstock, I see students shopping online quite often, including me. It shows how addicted we are to buying every new product launched by famous brands and most of us are even urged to follow these trends.

At last week’s Fashion Show in the Quad, people were encouraged to show up and flaunt their own style, outfits that reverberate who they are instead of insanely expensive, trendy clothes. This, I believe, is a stepping stone in making people feel confident in who they really are.

I feel that the definition of beauty in itself created by the media is a girl with zero-size, slim girl also known as a “model” with a flawless skin and busty features. I conclude with saying that following fashion trends is not about being beautiful, but it is about trying to look similar to or imitating the physical appearance of someone who is projected to be or described as beautiful by groups of various interests or the society. Hence, our duty as the youth is to lighten the social burden on others by understanding and appreciating their original identity rather than judging them on the basis of the tag on that piece of clothing they’ve adorned.

Edited by Archi Nokrek

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