Photo: Andrew Malone / Flickr

The bad old days; fads, frenemies and high school

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Find yourself cringing when you think of yourself in high school? You’re not alone…

We all remember high school. From tiny ‘Just Do It’ bags that could barely house your books, to being heavy-handed with your eyeliner to achieve the ‘perfect liquid line’, there was always some fad that had to be followed, on pain of social death. But heaven help you if you decided to rock up to school in a grey Just Do It bag. Pink or black was fine, but grey? Forget it. You are done.

I can rant all I like, but the fact of the matter is, in high school, there is serious pressure on young people to conform, to follow the crowd like everybody else. Often, people who feel brave enough to express themselves through how they dress, speak or style themselves, become the subject of gossip, the butt of their classmates’ jokes.

Photo: BarbieFantasies / Flickr (cropped)

Photo: BarbieFantasies / Flickr (cropped)

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! I certainly found that once you get to university, all of that goes away – it’s like a whole different world. Gone is the hierarchy of cool kids, dictating the way you had to look; at university, all of those old social groups dissipate and everyone starts out on an equal footing, and the effects of these changes are evident.

Instead of seeing herds of people sporting the same bag, the same shoes (even the same haircut!), we see a diverse range of personalities that can finally be revealed through the freedom of personal expression. It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but realistically, the most you can really do with your eyes is dress them up with a bit of mascara. I think that a daring hairstyle or an outlandish outfit really sends a message to the people around you; ‘This is who I am’.

we are suddenly forced to grow up, and we realise that it’s ok to be yourself and go against the norm.

Since coming to Warwick University, I’ve found not only the confidence, but the freedom to develop my own style, and I’ve definitely taken some inspiration from the people around me. Looking around Warwick campus is like online shopping, there’s so much to choose from and it’s not hard to go up to someone and say ‘hey, I love that, where did you get it from?’
So why has the pressure suddenly abated? I think the media plays a huge role in placing pressure on young people to look a certain way. In the first few years of high school, we all go through huge changes and that leaves us feeling slightly uncertain about who we are. Then we read magazines that tell us we have to have this haircut or shop at that store, articles about how to become popular, and how to make boys (or girls) like us.

Then suddenly, you go to university and none of those things matter. I think the main reason for that is that we are suddenly forced to grow up, and we realise that it’s ok to be yourself and go against the norm. I for one, am glad that the idea that ‘conformity is cool’ has not followed me to Warwick.

 Sara Gregory

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