+ BY CELESTE SCOTT +
a Tumblr-esque art student at a coffee shop, I often find myself feeling like a plain Jane. An outfit that I’d thought of as cool and hip when I left the house becomes “basic” in my mind after comparing it to that of some fashionista seen in passing. The problem isn’t that I don’t feel unique. It’s that no matter how hard I try, I never feel unique enough. As a creative I’ve always had this innate desire to be viewed as unique, different, ~artsy~ if you will. To walk into a room and have the weight of my individuality felt by everyone present. I was inspired at a young age by the spunky likes of Miranda from Lizzie McGuire and Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All. Their bold-print, mismatched, bedazzled sense of fashion was so admirably fearless. I often tried to imitate their boldness growing up. To this day, I still find joy in setting myself apart stylistically from the homogenous masses. It’s how I wear my creativity on my sleeve. It’s not enough for me to simply be a so-called “artist.” I want it to be reflected in the way I dress, in my hairstyles, even in the petty things, like how I shape my eyebrows. Fashion is how I share my creativity with the common passerby, how I articulate my uniqueness to the world. However, along with this inherent desire to be viewed as unique, there always comes an inherent fear. A fear of being overshadowed by someone who is more unique or ~artsy~. This fear came up quite a bit when I visited New York City this past January. If you’ve ever been to this fashion-forward city, you probably know exactly what I mean. The very essence of New York gave the word “unique” an entirely different meaning. As a student at a small, private school in So-Cal where the artistic community is marked by Birkenstocks, VSCO filters, and latte art, I was absolutely astonished by the New Yorkers’ innovative sense of fashion. One girl wore a denim shirt on her head as a turban, another sported a bright pink petticoat over a t-shirt and jeans. No one seemed to be following the “rules” of fashion—Because there were none. And though I should’ve felt inspired by these innovators, I couldn’t help but feel threatened by them. Strangely enough, the extreme visibility of their uniqueness made me feel that my own was undermined, non-existent even. This feeling was by no means limited to my trip to New York. It happens all the time, almost on a daily basis. Usually triggered by some dewy-looking, dream queen on my Instagram feed or
And though I could almost blame this entire phenomenon on social media, or even comparison in general, the problem lies deeper. Sure, it wouldn’t hurt to check my Instagram feed a little less, and resist the urge to consistently compare myself to others. But the issue of feeling like a plain Jane is rooted in the fact that I’ve had a shallow understanding of what makes a person unique in the first place. It’s not the way we tie our shoe laces or the amount of glitter on our eyelids that make us unique. It’s the things about us that people can’t see. Our experiences, passions, and quirks. The things that make us cry and laugh hysterically. It’s our internal makeup that is recognized only through vulnerability and intimacy. And this truth, like most truths, is quite liberating to realize. My sense of fashion, though an extremely beautiful form of selfexpression, is not the only thing that makes me unique. I am unique because palm trees remind me of my grandma, and because I love talking about memes and social justice. Because I know every single word to the Fresh Prince theme song, but have rarely watched the show itself. There is absolutely no item of clothing that could portray these parts of myself to the world. And the apparent “artsy-ness” of another person could not take these things away from me. Plain Jane doesn’t exist because each and every one of us is unique by default. There’s no “look” that makes any one person more unique than the next. How we appear on the exterior is only a small sliver of the vast complexities of our interior selves. And because of this we can appreciate the differences we so often find on our exteriors, rather than comparing them as we do too often. As creatives this is of particular importance because comparison is so detrimental to the artistic process. Not to mention the harm comparison does to our own personal well-being. We will be better people and create better content when we come to the realization that uniqueness is inherently human. We are all one-of-a-kind. Unlike like anything else. And absolutely none of us are basic.
On the cover, Brandon Woelfel // Featuring: Cary Fagan, Kiele Twarowski, Lloyd Pursall, Parker Woods and loads more.