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The girls we’ll never be

June 18, 2010

New York is a city of competition.

If you come into it without a confident head on your shoulders, you’ll have to discover it quickly, otherwise you’ll be a hop, skip, and a click away from buying that plane ticket home. In the process of that self-confidence-building (as I’ve realized over the past 5 months living here) you’re going to be competing with a lot of girls that are fighting for the exact same things you are. The best apartments, jobs, even restaurant reservations are snagged within hours of their openings. You’ve gotta be in it to win it, otherwise you fall behind. So, you learn, and your skin gets a little thicker with each setback. You realize what works and what doesn’t, what you’re willing to sacrifice, and, let’s just say, a comfortable application of the label “bitch.”

My sister and I were discussing all of this the other night, and I noticed something. (I have an eventual fashion-related point, I promise.) When we were talking about a difficult situation in our lives and the trials of getting ahead, at some point we ended up describing our competition. “And she’s just, so not me,” my sister would say. “She wears these riding boots with skinny jeans in the middle of summer, and Ralph Lauren polos, and is always cold, and doesn’t like spicy food.” And with the mere mention of “riding boots in the summer,” I knew exactly what she was talking about. Then I would go onto my sob story. “And she’s just … she wears these Chanel flats, and expensive pashminas. And pastel cardigans. She never cusses and her hair is always perfect.” And we both obsess over these girls, and we feel better for a minute or two by making fun of them, but the next day, sure enough, we end up staring enviably at their perfect hair. While bitching about these girls feels good for a second, it’s still rooted in toxic envy. Because this isn’t making fun of girls who wear leggings as pants, or who wear scrunchies in 2010. It’s deeper than that — it’s total insecurity. I think the best way to overcome this competitive obsession is to just finally admit to yourself that there are some girls who you will never be.

My favorite “Sex and the City” quote of them all is when Carrie finds out Big is engaged to Natasha, and she’s sitting with Charlotte reading their wedding announcement in tears. You can literally feel her pain when she’s like, “It’s just … her. Her. She’s, you know, Vera Wang, New York Times style section, and I’m … vintage sex columnist, next to the ads for penile implants.” Later, she’s like, “I will never be the girl with the perfect hair, who can wear white and not spill on it.” And it’s liberating for her to finally admit that and give up trying.

One of my best friends from college and I couldn’t be more different when it comes to looks and style. She pulls off this punk rock princess, black-and-pink, heavy-eyeliner look without looking at all Avril Lavigne-y, blending it with this adorable Southern, preppy trademark. She also happens to weigh something around 100 pounds while eating whatever she wants. (I know.) Throughout college I’d try and try, relentlessly, to fit into her clothes, dying to pull off her look and the attention it received. “I can fit into that XS top and those size 2 jeans! I can!” But when I did, I looked like an idiot — because that’s her look, not mine, and I’ll never be able to adopt it. It’s not me. I’m not a size 2, and I’m not badass enough in the slightest to try out “punk rock.” It’s not even about the clothes or the sizes when it comes down to it — it’s about accepting that you need to rock your own style.

So, who will I never be? I have to agree that I will never be the girl with the perfect hair, who can wear white and not spill on it. I will never be the girl who wears Chanel flats with those gorgeous, cashmere pastel cardigans. I will never be the girl who can pull off high heels and make it look effortless/not awkward. I’ll probably never be the girl with the Lacoste nautical polo dress, crisp as they may look. And, I will never be the girl with that tiny little tank top with a flat stomach for all to see.

But that’s fine. Because I will be the girl who wears an Audrey Hepburn black dress and hat on a Tuesday night just because, the girl with completely mismatched pieces from vintage stores that still looks like money, and, on bad days, the girl with a stained white shirt. We all have things we can rock and things that just, simply, aren’t us. It’s better to admit that and show off what you have rather than dwelling on what you don’t.

I think, some days, and especially in this city, clothes are a lot more than just clothes. I’m trying to let go of those “girls I’ll never be” and be the girl I’ll always be — me!

(I know this post is super cheesefest but roll with me, guys. It’s been an emotional past couple of weeks.)

So, you know you’ve thought of a couple while reading: when it comes to style, who will you never be?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Lola P. permalink
    June 18, 2010 5:39 pm

    Jen,

    Great entry. I especially love it because it’s EXACTLY the same sentiment that has been running through my head upon coming back from abroad and now figuring out what the hell to do with my life. Why can’t I be the girl with a career already? Why can’t I be the girl who already knows where she wants to live and what she wants to do? Girls who are so certain of their ambitions are who I wanted to be. Still not there, but I’ve come to terms. And I’m really OK with it. I hope you’ve found the same. Cheers to being all about you!

  2. Katy permalink*
    June 18, 2010 7:13 pm

    I’m 25, and in my “adult years” (I use the term adult very loosely, of course) I’ve come to terms with the fact that no matter how much I run or do yoga or cut carbs or whatever, I’m not going to be super duper skinny, and thus I will never be able to pull off some trends due to not being a stick. I’ve learned a lot in the past year about dressing for my body and dressing in what flatters me the most and makes me look my best. I’ve also realized that, unless I hit the lottery, I will never be one of those girls who spends more than $100 bucks on a pair of shoes (I own only one pair of shoes over $30) or who can drop $50 on a tank top or t-shirt. I think style comes at all price points, and I’ve really embraced that since leaving college. And the last one (I swear, I just keep thinking of them). I will never be one of those girls who can wear high heels out to a bar or a club. Yea, I’m only 5′ 4″ and I should, but I am weak. At most, I can rock some wedges, but that is my limit.

  3. June 18, 2010 8:33 pm

    Love that honesty! I think These are the really tough years -when we don’t have college or school to identify ourselves with- that we really have to stand alone and think about what and who we are. I was laid off monday and little things like filling out “job/occupation” boxes online are suddenly daunting. But I really am not that girl who defines herself by her job. I’m not the girl who needs to live on park ave or marry a banker. I’m not the girl who is afraid of change or moving on…I’m just me. And this has been an incredible year for figuring that out and not just shrugging my shoulders and accepting it…but truly embracing and being grateful for myself. Life is so much better now that i’ve stopped comparing myself to everyone else.

    Anyway, no more rambling. Great post! For what it’s worth, I think you have great style! 🙂

  4. June 18, 2010 9:32 pm

    This might get emotional … but apparently that’s what that post is all about. Also, love the comments so far!!

    I will definitely always be that girl who knows what she wants, career-wise. I will never be the girl who has it all figured out, regarding to my personal life. One of my friends once quoted my horoscope (Virgo) to me: If life becomes too complicated or their already fragile ego is damaged, Virgo may become depressed to the point of immobilization at home, but will probably still function perfectly in the workplace.

    So true. I can be comfortable in heels in a bar and comfortable with the fact that I’ll never be stick thin. I’ll never be the girl who cries at work. I’ve embraced the curves. I’ll never be the girl who is defined by who I’m with and who changes to fit a certain stereotype of who I should be. I can’t wear Ralph Lauren or Tory Burch flats without looking ridiculous. And no matter how much money I make, I’ll probably never spend more than $20 or $30 on a basic T-shirt. (OK, maybe if I make $3472304 million, I will. I’ll get back to you then.)

    Aaaand my comment has almost nothing to do with fashion. I give up.

  5. June 19, 2010 1:13 am

    love love love it. How is it that all the blogs that come from NY are so good?

    Anyway. I suppose I’m going to have to start realising who I’m never going to be.

    This blog was a wake up call.

    Thanks =)

  6. anne permalink
    June 20, 2010 1:53 am

    I love this post!! Yesterday I was watching Adventureland and even though she can’t exactly act, I kinda fell in love with Kristen Stewart’s character. Because that girl is me. And believe me, it’s the fashion that got me. The huge band t-shirts, the bracelets, the unkempt hair… all me! This may seem silly but I missed that side of myself. I have been really girl-y the past few years and though I have grown comfortable wearing the cute outfits, sometimes I still go out looking like I don’t give a damn. On those days, I most likely don’t.

    I guessssss what I’m trying to say is I’m quite happy that I’m gradually able to appreciate myself. It’s been a long, hard road of insecurities and self-consciousness. Right now I just focus on getting clothes and things that I love and that are me as rather than getting whatever trendy object there is right now. The latter will almost always disappoint me. You can try really, really hard to become THAT girl but ultimately you will just be you!

  7. June 20, 2010 7:05 pm

    I don’t think I can add anything specific that’s different from what everyone else has said, but I can say that realizing who we are is probably one of the biggest steps we can take in really growing up. I know what kind of person I am, and I know what my personal style is and what feels comfortable to me. I realize my style will evolve over time and with a higher pay grade, but whatever it is, it won’t be much different from what it is now. I’ll always be big, black and awkward, but people like me so that’s OK.

    By the way, when Shannon said someone quoted astrology to her, that was me!

  8. June 21, 2010 2:20 pm

    This was a great post 🙂

    I’ve realized I am not the girls on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette (super lame reference, you’re free to make fun of me) who seem to always look good, even when it’s pouring rain, super humid or they literally just woke up. I am the size-two girl, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Because along with my small waistline, I have small everything else — no curves to fill out all the cute styles! I am, however, me, and I’ve been trying to feel more comfortable with my style lately because I used to try to go unnoticed, and that’s just no fun…

    And Jenny, you always looked great!

  9. October 20, 2010 9:40 am

    i love this post 🙂

    i will never been the Glamazon but that’s OK. Those women are special for a reason – they are unique! Short girls rule, too!

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