Alternative styles offer new perspective

To+prove+my+dedication+to+the+%22experiment%2C%22+I+woke+up+at+5%3A30+a.m.+to+achieve+Friday%27s+punk+style.+

Macy McClish

To prove my dedication to the "experiment," I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to achieve Friday's punk style.

Bootcut jeans, black lipstick and a hoodie. Sweatpants, black heels and a leather jacket. The week before last, I went to school with something unintentionally new about my appearance each day. The style and theme of my outfits were wildly unpredictable throughout the first three days, and–halfway through the week–I decided to try a social “experiment,” in a lax use of the word. I wanted to see if people’s reactions to me would differ based on what my outfits looked like. As the week progressed, the style alterations became more noticeable.

For reference, I generally wear boyfriend jeans or mom jeans paired with a graphic t-shirt or sweater. Sometimes, if I feel fancy, I pair the shirts with a skirt and heels. Never do I don a leather jacket and black jeans. Nor do I often attempt to play into Texan stereotypes. For this experiment, though, I did.

I wore different clothes than I am accustomed to, and I sank into a new role–I was acting.”

— Abigail Bell, 10

To kick off the week, I had my hair cut. I walked into school missing three inches of my curls, not expecting much more than a few comments from my friends, which was exactly what I received. There were more comments than I usually receive, but, all things considered, it was a fairly low-key day.

Tuesday was slightly more distinct; I inadvertently dressed as a fitness mom, as my sister pointed out that morning. I had woken up late and was sleepy, so I threw on some sweatpants, tennis shoes and a hoodie–the socially-accepted form of a Snuggie. My posture was more slouchy and my walk less deliberate than usual. Interestingly, though, my demeanor changed, and my personality shifted. Because I dressed for comfort, I became grumpier and more closed off as the day progressed. I wore different clothes than I am accustomed to, and I sank into a new role–I was acting.

With this weighing on my subconscious mind Wednesday, I donned the outfit I had worn to my National Hispanic Honors Society induction: black checkered pants with a maroon shirt and block-heel ankle-high boots. Paired with some earrings, my appearance screamed, “business casual.” And, just as before, my mien changed. After being inducted into NHHS, I was confident. The world was mine, and I knew it. I strode rather than walked, and I am fairly sure I smirked more than I smiled; let it be known I am not a particularly smirky person.

I took this as a challenge and decided to spend the last two days of the week giving him absolute whiplash.”

— Abigail Bell, 10

I felt unflappable, even as I stumbled in my embarrassingly-short heels. This was a severe contrast from the prior day, and one of my friends commented on the difference. Because I have the maturity of a 12-year-old boy, I took this as a challenge and decided to spend the last two days of the week giving him absolute whiplash. (Which I did, just for the record.)

The majority of Wednesday night was spent preparing Thursday’s outfit. The theme was Texan. My goal was to become as “yee-yee” as possible without going to the store to purchase clothes for the occasion (an objective I discarded the next day). I set out my bootcut jeans and a shirt embroidered with “Texas.” After digging around for half-an-hour, I managed to scrounge up a belt and pair of dangly earrings in the general shape of crosses. I was set. I went to bed praying I would have the confidence to don the ensemble the next morning (spoiler alert, I did).

Thursday was a long day. I felt fairly uncomfortable through it all, but not once did I regret my decision to step into someone else’s shoes. High school is a time for exploration and adventure of the intrapersonal sort, and I fully considered this experiment to be categorized as such. No one treated me differently, however I did receive a few sidelong gazes.

Friday was the day to which I most dreaded and most looked forward. It was punk day. Inspired by every 2008 YouTuber, I straightened my hair and streaked temporary blue color through it, drew on some relatively-subtle winged eyeliner and gave my best shot at a smokey eye. I searched through my closet and found a black shirt and jeans, which I paired with my Converse. For the finishing touch, I borrowed a friend’s red leather jacket and applied black lipstick.

Friday was the day to which I most dreaded and most looked forward.”

— Abigail Bell, 10

I can confidently say I gave my friend whiplash. When I walked into the band hall that morning, before my eyes had time to adjust, I heard only a collective gasp and someone loudly pronounce, “Oh my goodness.” I looked up to see my editor and drum major with her jaw dropped–the first time I had witnessed that happening in real life, as opposed to just reading it in a book. The whiplash friend’s eyes seemed to be painted open in shock. Throughout the entirety of the day, I would catch people staring at me, trying to process what they were seeing. When I walked up to my friends, it would take them a moment to place me. I caught one student, in particular, staring at me on several different occasions but who would look away when I caught his eye.

Interestingly, only one person I don’t speak to on the daily questioned me about it. She pointedly asked if I had dyed my hair, at which point I explained the situation. Everyone else, however, avoided the topic. They would ask my friends if I was okay or if something happened, but they avoided speaking to me directly. Whether this was due to politeness or being uncomfortable, I am unsure, but it was fascinating the lengths which humans–as social as we may be–went to avoid contact with others from outside their clique.

It was fascinating the lengths which humans–as social as we may be–went to avoid contact with others from outside their clique.

— Abigail Bell, 10

It was definitely my favorite dress-up day. When I walked into my sixth period class, newspaper, the editor-drum major mentioned earlier whipped out a camera, and I participated in a photoshoot. It was a lot of fun, but my favorite part was receiving feedback from the staff. I was told the look was a somewhat ironic outfit, as I typically have a fairly sunny disposition, and I am fairly confident Avril Lavigne was mentioned. Interestingly, I didn’t feel as though I were not myself. In fact, Friday was the day I felt most confident, even though everyone was staring at me.

In conducting this “experiment,” I realized, while others may comment on my appearance, they did not treat me differently. Rather, it was the treatment of myself which changed. I learned I possess more self-assurance and sense of my own identity than I originally believed I had. While I don’t think I will drastically change my typical style, I intend to wear the confidence I found in the investigation daily and have fun with my appearance.