Embodying your younger self’s fearlessness with style

Photo by Olivia Meyer

Your childhood self? Yeah, she definitely was as fabulous as she thought she was. 

While many of us have been blessed enough to have experienced a glow-up at some point in our lives, (*ahem* middle-school me…who was she??) you’ve got to admit there is something undeniably fascinating about the creative concoctions our younger selves put together to actually wear out. Some were cringy to say the least, but others, (if I do say so myself) were just plain ahead of their time.

Without a worldwide arsenal of style bloggers, influencers and social media platforms at our fingertips, we Y2K babies got the inside scoop on what we should be wearing by looking at those around us. Barbie, Bratz, Hello Kitty — the epitomes of fashion — right in the palms of our itty-bitty hands. Embodying their it-girl aesthetic and go-getter attitudes, we took to the complete disarray of clothes we called our closets. Chock-full of cousins’ hand-me-downs and old princess dresses, we donned outfits so bold even Fancy Nancy herself would be too intimidated to wear: denim skirts over flare jeans, bikini tops and colossal hair bows, sherpa dresses and feathered handbags. No matter the destination, we boldly flaunted the creative genius of our blooming minds and carried it off flawlessly. 

It didn’t matter if our bottoms didn’t go with our tops or if our socks were worn inside-out on most days. We were discovering who we were, what we wanted to be and what that person looked like. Not confined to any rules or restrictions, we wore what we wanted, when we wanted and no one could tell us otherwise. 

So when did getting dressed become more than just a game of dress-up? According to a recent study by Emory Health Sciences, by the time children have reached the age of two, they are able to detect the opinions of others and alter their behavior accordingly. 

“At the very bottom, our concern for image management and reputation is about the fear of rejection, one of the main engines of the human psyche,” said Philippe Rochat, an Emory professor, who specializes in childhood development and senior author of this study. 

Beauty and fashion industries have long profited off of our innate obsession with fitting in and maintaining a proper image. 

“This concern for reputation manifests itself in everything from spending money on makeup and designer brands to checking how many ‘likes’ a Facebook post garners,” the study states. 

Once aware of the importance of impressing peers and coworkers and not to mention being preoccupied with the sheer busyness of life, our creative concoctions became less and less creative. We lost our fervor for trying new, and many times, avant-garde styles. Some might call this the natural process of growing up. But in a world full of shouldn’ts, we should ask ourselves: why fit in? When we were born to stand out. 

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Hi, I’m Maria McGinnis, a senior journalism student from Stow, Ohio. I’m also the editor in chief of A Magazine. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty, and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.

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