According to commercials, the success of your education relies on one thing: the right supplies. Namely, the right first-day-of-school outfit.
The logic of the marketing industry is that stylish clothes fill students with confidence, giving them the buoyancy and courage they need to swagger through the school year.
Last year, for the first day of college (ever!) I wore a cute pink pocket tee with dark skinny jeans.
This year, my sorority issued an “outfit schedule” for the first two weeks of classes.
They have legitimate reasons for doing this: increased presence on campus, boost pre-rush spirit, etc.
Rebellion was my natural reaction.
I have several pictures of school events where everyone is obediently wearing the maroon “uniform” shirt for United Methodist Preschool and I’m rocking a yellow shirt and overalls or a bright blue sundress or something equally anarchistic.
I like to look cute. And I hate being told what to do.
But I’m not the same girl who walked into her first class with feigned bravado. I only had a few acquaintances and no true friends (yet). I was adrift, with no identity outside of my own inherent charms, which (honestly) mostly consisted of a non-intimidating resting face and the willingness to go along with any activity that I didn’t have moral objections to.
Now, I am a part of something. Many things, actually: I am life editor and A&E co-editor for our school newspaper; treasurer of the broadcasting society; secretary of the Rutledge Honorary History Society; a mentor for handicapped students; and Sisterhood Enrichment Team leader and student government representative for my sorority.
I am quite possibly involved in too many things.
We, as a society, place a lot of responsibility on clothes to communicate both who we are and who we want to become. I am proud of everything that I am a part of and glad to represent them, even if it’s only by wearing a t-shirt.
And if that means following an outfit schedule, then I guess I’m ok with that.
Isn’t family – sisterhood – sometimes about forcing a smile and agreeing to go along with whatever they have planned?
One value that my sorority emphasizes is confidence. A childhood full of watching “What Not to Wear” taught me that it can be expressed through clothes, but confidence ultimately comes from the individual – not the outfit.
Take that, marketing majors.