I think I scared my roommate’s mom when I met her a few months ago. I was pretty proud of my look for the day: graphic tee with the original Godzilla poster on it, plaid pants, jean jacket and perfectly pointed eyeliner.
I introduced myself when I saw her mom in the hallway. She didn’t really make eye contact, but she eyed me up and down. I could see her assess each feature: eyeliner, septum piercing, plaid pants, Doc Martins… back up to the eyeliner.
I’m no stranger to these assessments, typically from my own mother rather than my roommates’. When you look different, people need a moment to take it all in. I’m learning not to be upset when people assess me, but I’ve also learned how important their reactions can be.
One of my resolutions for 2023 is to make my appearance a closer reflection of who I am. My wardrobe for the past few years has been a sanitized version of how I really want to look, so lately, I’ve started to branch out.
I do funkier eyeliner, wear dark lipstick, got a spiky and textured haircut and even bleached my eyebrows. I’ve been having a lot of fun with how I present myself, and every morning it feels like I complete a small art project in my bedroom before I go out in public. Even better, I feel amazing when I wear the clothes that I want
, rather than what I think other people would like me to wear.
My second goal for the year was to find a group of people that like me for who I really am. While I reflected on these goals in January, I started to worry. What if I have an even harder time making friends because of how I look? I worried that my newfound freedom in my appearance would make me unapproachable, or that it would give people a reason to dislike me before they got to know me.
Amid this bout of anxiety, I came to realize that the kind of person who would judge me for my carefully curated wardrobe isn’t a person I want to waste time with.
Measuring a person’s reaction to my appearance tells me everything I need to know about who they are. I don’t want to spend time with people who treat somebody poorly because they look different. Appearing alternative is a sort of secret weapon to measure how open-minded a person might be.
It’s easy to convince yourself to look the way other people want you to look. Next time you’re concerned about how people will react to an outfit, consider what that reaction will tell you about someone. Presenting yourself in the way that makes you feel most confident will do wonders for your self-esteem
, and reveal people’s true colors.
For me, looking how I want means being a little edgy, but for others it might mean something entirely different. I want to encourage you to look like the closest reflection of yourself, whether that means wearing skinny jeans, getting an eyebrow piercing
, or cutting your hair the way you’ve always wanted to. “Looking like a freak” can be whatever you want, but it will show you who is worthy of your time.
My outward appearance tells the world about me, and I’ve decided to make it as accurate as possible. Your real friends are out there, and I promise you that they’ll think you look incredibly cool and interesting.
I hope next time you get dressed, you put on an outfit that shows the world who you are. Finding good people who appreciate you will follow close behind.
Photo by Jens Meyer/The Journal