Quarantine helps students discover and express their personal style

Gender-fluid student finds newfound fashion confidence

Dominic Navarro, Staff Writer

Over the past year, the endless days stuck inside have driven students to crave change in their lives — and fashion has become a favorite outlet for that change.  From clothing and makeup to hair and accessories, Tiktok and other social media have influenced many students to feel more comfortable expressing their newfound individuality through style.

“I started to change [style] about six months ago,” freshman Christiana Jeter said.  Over the past few months, Jeter has gone out of her way to purchase clothes that would usually be out of her comfort zone.  She arranges and selects these clothes to revolve around a specific “statement piece.” 

In addition to craving change, the constant presence at home has given students a newfound confidence.  Instead of attending school in person, where all their peers would see them and possibly judge them, students can dress how they like at home without fear of being shunned.  Time alone has contributed to a “breaking out” phase for many students—where they finally feel comfortable enough to express themselves how they like genuinely.

“I think that teenagers have had to adapt when they are expressing themselves,” school psychologist Jennifer Shirron said, “just because their social activities and outlets aren’t there right now.” 

Students say they have found inspiration from social media apps such as TikTok and Instagram.  TikTok has been incredibly influential in the world of teen fashion, with thousands of creators—some with millions of followers— developing content to display their chosen aesthetic of clothing.  Junior Alissa Cole credits TikTok as her source for style inspiration. 

“I learned a lot about myself during quarantine and being on social media and TikTok specifically,” Cole said.  Cole uses those social media platforms to find ideas to switch up her aesthetic. Her styles can vary wildly, including the “soft girl” style and “baggy jeans and graphic tee” style. 

Students like junior Aliza Paulino say that changing their fashion has had a significant effect on their confidence.  Paulino encourages other students to change their style and says the changes have boosted her self-confidence.

“[Fashion] has allowed me to become even more confident in myself and my unique and artistic self-expression,” Paulino said. Paulino has been constantly experimenting with new hairstyles and outfit combinations— finding different patterns and accessories to complement her outfits. 

Photo by Kayla Gallardo

“I also love putting those two aspects together and experimenting with which hairstyles go well with which new outfits I have created,” Paulino said. 

Senior Kayla Gallardo has also discovered a newly discovered confidence through their fashion choices during quarantine, especially coming to terms with their gender-fluid identity.  Gallardo has begun to wear a mix of traditionally masculine and traditionally feminine clothing, cut their hair, and experiment with makeup. 

“I really use fashion as an extension of myself,” Gallardo said. “It makes me feel confident and comfortable.” 

Contributors: Autumn Kong, Jenessa Serrano