The Fragile Femme: Self-expression in fashion


Jordan Liss-Riordan, Brookline High School

NESPA Winner: Localizing, 2021

The Sagamore, Brookline High School, Brookline, Mass.

Every day I shove my way through the long, crowded halls of the high school, and I sometimes feel like I am entering unprepared into the midst of an impromptu fashion show. All around me, students model flowing dresses, ripped jeans, fishnet leggings, winged eyeliner, frilly skirts, platform boots, oversized band shirts, printed crop tops and elaborate collections of jewelry that collide and clink as they stride towards their next class. I used to think I was interesting for dying the tips of my hair purple, but now, among the emerging boldness of my peers, I merely fade into the background.

It seems that as we get older, high schoolers are increasingly turning towards more adventurous, personal styles. This exciting trend perhaps partly attributes itself to the influx of time alone to self-reflect during the pandemic and the rising presence of fashion trends on TikTok. But in Brookline, I notice, it seems to be mostly feminine-presenting people who have embraced this cultural development. The boys—in their sweatpants, hoodies and cotton t-shirts—at times look strikingly the same to me.

This major discrepancy in clothing patterns along gender lines speaks to societal issues in a larger sense. More so than ever before, girls and gender non-conforming people reject cultural expectations. We liberate ourselves to dress how we like, thus producing a thrilling diversity of creative expression.

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