Every girl wakes up hours before school to make sure her hair is perfect, her makeup is flawless, and her outfit is totally chic. Though there may be bags under her eyes (strategically covered with concealer), she still looks runway-worthy every day for school. But why do girls spend so much time on their outward appearance? Are they trying to impress boys, or are they trying to save their ever plummeting self esteem? If it is the latter, does the extra effort in the morning really have an effect on a girl’s mood, attitude, and confidence level throughout the day?
As a girl who values sleep over vanity, I wanted to see if wasting precious z’s to what I believed was a pointless cause was worth it. In order to answer the question, I designated five days to dressing drabby, where I was only allowed to spend a maximum of 10 minutes every morning on my outward appearance. Even further, I denied myself the use of any makeup and limited my wardrobe to sweatpants, T-shirts, sweatshirts, and tennis shoes. Then to experience the other side of the spectrum, I devoted five days to dressing nice where I spent at least one hour on my appearance in the morning which I filled with doing my hair, makeup, nails, and picking out my outfit (which could not include sweatpants, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or tennis shoes) for the day.
With these guidelines, I set out to answer the question: Does outward appearance affect mood, attitude, and confidence level?
Before I went to school on the first day I dressed drabby, I looked in the mirror… which ended up being a big mistake. I honestly and truthfully believed that I looked ugly. Though this was the desired look for the experiment, I was hurt. I know that I’m not beautiful, or even pretty, but a part of me had hoped that I would at least look somewhat appealing in my most basic state. So much for natural beauty. My confidence sank along with my heart and I was already set up for a bad day.
During school I was an all around a bitter person, and my friends can attest to this. I was moody, snappy, and full of complaints nearly the entire day, and, unfortunately for them, my friends were the ones who had to deal with my out-of-the-ordinary negative attitude.
My miserable state could have been a result of the fact that I had two huge honors scholarship essays due the following day that I had not yet finished, so the stress definitely affected my mood. But even so, my appearance did nothing to help that, and in fact, I would even go as far to say it made it worse.
On Tuesday, things started off better. Fueled by the relief of completing the essays, I went to school in high spirits, sporting my VB orange and black attire, excited for the boys’ basketball tournament game that night.
My peers failed in the department of boosting self esteem; as I went from class to class throughout the day, nothing in the form of a compliment or even a nice, encouraging gesture came my way. In fact, the halls were eerily quiet in the way of flattery the entire week.
Though the absence of compliments felt like an insult, my day had been satisfactory and had even reached enjoyable by the time the final bell rang.
It wasn’t until the basketball game when my mood began its downfall.
My two friends and I were walking in front of the student section for the opposing team. While high school boys were making comments about the “hot brunettes” and that fact that they had “nice butts,” I was trailing behind them with my head down and eyes watering. Although I am used to little male attention, this hurt me pretty badly. It was the awful devil of comparison; while my friends were being viewed as beautiful, I wasn’t even getting a second glance. This was my lowest moment during the entire experience, because, with even more evidence to support it, I had reached the conclusion that I really was not beautiful.
The rest of the week I was numb. While I avoided pictures and mirrors, I was never honestly happy. I embodied an “I don’t care” attitude which I’m sure was the vibe my appearance gave off. Needless to say, it was a dreadful week and I was thrilled when the following Monday came around.
The first couple days of dressing nice, there were once again outside factors contributing to my mood; I had an honors program interview that I was beyond nervous for. While my frilly skirt and curled hair didn’t help lessen the nerves any, they did help me forget about them for at least a little while.
Though I would’ve dressed nice for the interview regardless of doing the experiment, my blue button-down, khakis, and kitten heels made me feel like a confident, professional woman as I marched into the honors office at Ashland.
Either the interview gods were with me or my outfit was working wonders because the interview went fantastic which, of course, set me up for a terrific rest of the day. I was beaming as I walked from class to class and, though the heels hurt my feet, they were the perfect tool to show my inner joy as I strutted like a supermodel.
On the third morning, I marveled at other girls’ patience in curling their hair. I spent over an hour twisting my shoulder-length hair around a flaming hot curling iron and burning my fingers in the process. Whoever said “beauty is pain” was right.
The frustration and suffering were worth it, though, because the hallways were buzzing with compliments in my direction (“Looking good, today!”, “You look pretty, Madi”, “You look cute”), even from people I’ve never talked to. I even made a poor freshman boy’s voice crack when he said “hello” to me. If that doesn’t mean I was looking hot, I don’t know what does.
Nothing could compare to my confidence level on the fourth day, though.
There’s something about a leather jacket and kick-butt combat boots that really makes a girl feel like a woman. It was these two things that made me realize just how much appearance can affect attitude.
For the first time during my senior year I felt like I owned the school. My confidence level was at its peak and I felt like I could crush the girl I was last week with the heel of my boot.
I received a lot of compliments on my hair, to which I responded, “Yes, I did do it myself, thank you.” I was tickled pink because my peers were not only complimenting my looks, they were complimenting my skills.
I was so fueled and uplifted by these flattering words that I reached the point where I started expecting compliments from everyone who passed me and I found myself glaring at those who said nothing.
Overall, I had the best consecutive five days of my high school career. Whether that was a result of my attire, or all of the good things that happened to me during that week, I guess I’ll never know.
Though I did lose sleep, the extra effort in the morning made my day more enjoyable and made me a happier person. But I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the physical clothes on my body that made me have a bad day or a good day, it was my high confidence level that resulted from the compliments of others.
I found that my mood depended more on the positive or negative events and happenings in my life; however, my appearance acted as a reinforcer. When I was upset during the first week, my drabby attire only supplemented the emotion, while when I was upset during the second week, my nice attire supplied a positive vibe which helped brighten my mood.
Surprisingly, the girls who wake up early are not as crazy as I thought. And while I don’t believe that appearance is everything, I cannot deny that it plays a role in attitude, mood, and confidence level.