By Samantha Donat:
You were up late studying last night, weren’t you? How do I know? I can tell just by looking at you.
Although this may seem a bit harsh, there is an often unacknowledged moral behind such a blunt observation. The fact of the matter is that appearances really do make an impact, and your peers’ impressions of you lessen each day you come to school wearing sweatpants.
I completely understand that we often like to pride ourselves on living in a society where what is “inside” is valued more than what can be seen on the outside. However, this certainly does not suggest that your appearances should go unnoticed. Your work ethic and personality are valued, but your appearance is what people see first. Call me shallow, but there is a truth behind my words.
The phrase “comfort over swag” is one that I have become all too familiar with, and I find it unfortunate that high-schoolers think that they can only have one or the other. It is entirely possible to have swag and be comfortable at the same time. It just takes the slightest bit more effort.
First and foremost, dressing well is a tell-tale sign that you respect yourself. By taking the time in the morning to just put together a visually appealing outfit, brush your hair and wash your face, you are showing the world that you want to present yourself in a decent and pleasing way. Uggs, sweats or the gut-wrenching, horrible socks-with-sandals combination do not, I repeat, do not, make an appeal for any sort of respect from peers. I’m not asking you to put on your Sunday best, but please at least change out of your pajamas.
Studies have shown that first impressions are often made within the first three seconds of meeting someone. As soon as you walk in to each class at the beginning of the school year, everyone in the room (including teachers) develops some sort of impression of you before you can even make an introduction. And contrary to popular belief, being fashionable doesn’t make you any less intelligent or confident. In fact, I have found that some of the most confident and personable people I know dress exceptionally well.
It’s an unfortunate fact, but it is time to face the truth. People, especially teenagers, are prone to making snap judgments, which gives all the more reason to actually look presentable at school. So when you arrive in the morning looking like you got dressed in the dark, your appearance will immediately evoke negative responses. Even if you are feeling stressed out or down in the dumps, why would you want your appearance to portray it?
Some may argue that an emphasis on appearances directly correlates with superficiality, and there is some truth in this belief. It is rather easy to take this concept to the point of an obsession. Of course, such behavior is not healthy—there is a fine line between caring about your appearance and obsessing over how you look. A healthy balance can be found by taking the time to look respectable, but not worrying about others’ opinions.
Long story short, appearances can make or break your time in high school. Even just the smallest change in your wardrobe and in the general way that you present yourself can help create a lasting, first-rate impression on peers. And with greater respect from teachers and peers—well, that’s one less thing you need to worry about in high school. You won’t regret it, I promise. Thank me later.