By Jennifer Gottesfeld, 13, Horace Mann MS
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When I look over the cafeteria, I see the popular students sitting up by the front, the nerdy people in the middle and the skaters at one table in the far back. The one thing we all have in common is the way we dress. My school doesn’t have a uniform or a strict dress code. But everyone is wearing the same baggy pants and loose T-shirts or capri pants and tight tank tops. I know nobody wears what they want to. They wear what they need to in order to fit in. I admit I do it too.

The fad at my school happens to be wearing brand names. Although I have bought a few myself, I feel stupid. I am a walking billboard promoting companies I don’t really care for. If that’s the way some teens like to dress, cool, I get that. However, it’s become a uniform for all the kids who want to be "cool." When students all dress the same, suddenly there is a lack of identity and personality. My close friend Katy thinks "If we all wear the same things we would all be the same person." If a new student came to our school, they wouldn’t be able to decipher which groups were what by the way we dress because we all dress the same. Only after spending a day there would they know where they fit in.

Make a statement without talking

I think that everyone should be able to express themselves through their clothes because clothing can be a statement without talking. For example, I once wore to school a red sleeveless dress with a white puffy underskirt and a orange/gold kimono with golden embroidered flowers. I wanted to make the statement that I was feeling spacey and weird that day. Everyone at school looked at me and didn’t know what to say. Friends commented sarcastically, "I like what you’re wearing." I didn’t care what they thought because I felt my clothes truly reflected me.

I wish teens would realize how wonderful self-expression is and start following their personal style instead of fads. Personal style is something you really need to choose on your own because it is what you want to be seen as. How can you establish your own personal style? Start by forgetting the trends you have encountered. You need to find the courage to let yourself go even if classmates make fun of you. Look at different clothes that you think express the way you feel. You can go to vintage shops or small clothing stores and look at the old clothes for inspiration. If you’re feeling bright and cheery, you could wear clothes from the 1950s and 60s that are way out there with these crazy neon colors and weird designs on them. Or if you’re feeling intellectual there are the plaid, uniform-looking clothes. You can also dress according to how you feel. If you feel sad you could wear a blue shirt, or mad and angry a fiery red shirt. You can even create your own clothes by cutting different parts of clothing and sewing them together.

Everyone has the freedom of choice, and they have better things to spend their money on than a piece of clothing with a little red, white and blue flag on the front that says Tommy Girl.