In My Opinion….Clothes vs. Character, by Clara D., Corning-Painted Post High School

I believe that it’s important to make a good first impression, but not at the expense of character. At one point, I was led to believe that clothes would determine what people thought of me when I walked into a room because all of the “cool” kids wore certain types of clothing. I’ve always been told the cliché, “Never judge a book by its cover,” and I have learned from personal experience that there can be more to a first impression than just appearance, and there is way more to a person than a first impression.
All through elementary school, I would try to fit in with the “cool” girls, but they would always make fun of me because I didn’t wear skinny jeans or any other clothes that they wore. This eventually led to tears and thinking less of myself because I didn’t conform. Humans have an unending desire to fit in, which is especially difficult during a person’s school years. Deciding that I wanted to blend in for once, I began to dress just like everyone else.
I remember my seventh-grade closet with horror. I considered my ill-fitting Hollister jeans to be dress pants, and I remember living in the Minnesota uniform of a sweatshirt and shorts as soon as the thermometer said thirty-five degrees Fahrenheit, just like everyone else. I also have the unpleasant memory of helping pull the jeggings off of many of my “friends;” the denim sighed with relief once the deed was done. However, my popularity status didn’t change. No one can magically “fit in” overnight, especially in the fickle world of children and teenagers where everyone feels obligated to pick on those who don’t fit in.
Since then, I have tried to offset that year by wearing pants that actually fit and dressing up more often. I like to dress more conservatively than the average teenage girl, and I think that sets me apart from my peers in a good way. I have decided to dress according to my own standards, which has improved my comfort and confidence. Making the first bell at 7:55 a.m. is cause for me to not dress up every day, but I have noticed that I don’t feel like myself when I am wearing yoga pants and an old t-shirt.
More importantly, I have found that first impressions include not only my appearance but also my behavior. When I approach someone new, I try to be friendly and respectful. In high school, this seldom comes across as a good first impression, but eventually people come to see that I am genuine and appreciate my sense of humor and point of view. I find it funny that people who act aloof and distant seem to have the most friends. I think this is far from reality in the future because no adult wants to spend time with an unpleasant person.
Unfortunately, we live in a world that wants us to look a certain way, and I also allow appearance to affect my perception of others. There are some fashion trends that I truly don’t understand, but everyone has their individual right to wear what they want. I believe that making a good first impression is important, but no one should have to sacrifice their individuality for it.

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