Finding confidence, beauty in individual style

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"The Little Rascals" ranks high on my list of all-time favorite movies. Although this was initially due to a crush on Alfalfa when I was 5 years old, it has remained there because of his off-pitch serenade of "You Are So Beautiful" to Darla — and because Alfalfa rocks his cowlick like nobody's business. His confidence is enviable, and something that we could learn from.

Too often we are caught up in what a DePauw student should look like, how we should behave, what we should buy and how we should dress. Look around you — how many people are sporting Sperrys or North Faces? Looking good and dressing well doesn't have to mean fitting in with the crowd. You don't have to be the prettiest, the skinniest, the wealthiest or the most toned to be the most engaging person in the class.

Each of these characteristics are too often misleading, and none of these will buy you good taste or good style. Instead, find what makes you comfortable in your own skin.

Bette Midler said, "Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world." There's a lot of truth in that statement. I will never forget my first pair of heels. I was in junior high and my mom and I went shopping at now-defunct L.S. Ayres for a simple pair of black heels.

I remember looking at all the different colors, shapes, patterns and heights in absolute awe, a whole new world at the tips of my toes.  I tried on several pairs of practical (and boring) pumps before I found "the ones." As I slipped on a pair of pointy-toed, three-inch black leather Steve Madden stilettos that day and stood cautiously on wobbly ankles, something inside me clicked. Nevermind the fact that I could barely walk due to the pencil-thin heel and the then unnatural feel of my body weight being pitched unceremoniously onto the balls of my feet—it was love.

That day, I learned how to walk in high heels from a sixty-ish-year-old salesman, who taught me the same way he said he taught his granddaughters. My mother looked on bemused.

Shoes, more than anything else, transformed my awkward-and-I-know-it teenage self into the still-awkward-but-totally-ok-with-it person I am today. For me, the right shoe is an instant mood booster.

It will always fit, no diet required. It accentuates my confidence in addition to height, neither of which is ever a bad thing. A great pair of shoes transforms my outfit, my posture and my attitude.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants had a magic pair of jeans. Cinderella had a glass slipper. Harry Potter had an invisibility cloak and a lightning-shaped scar. I have my shoes.

Looking good comes from embracing your true self—your quirks, your intelligence, your blemishes and your own sense of style. Dress up for you and you alone, because, like Sophia Loren said, "Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful."

— Dickman is a junior majoring in English writing from Indianapolis.

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