“ . . . So Then I Started Wearing Army Pants and Flip Flops”

Doc Martens.

It was sixth grade when I started to feel like a child among women. Up until that point my wardrobe had consisted mostly of gaucho pants, t-shirts, and Converse sneakers, which suited my perfectly boyish body. But the dreaded halls of middle school eventually caught up with me and walking into school the first day I was caught up in a flurry of flowery perfume, tight leggings clung to early curves, lip gloss, and straightened hair flipping over shoulders. Hormones were raging and silly crushes became relationships while“hook up” was introduced into my vocabulary.            

I had not gotten the memo. I didn’t feel cool, I didn’t feel pretty, and I certainly didn’t feel sexy. I felt leagues behind everyone else. As you might infer, I spent most of middle school feeling sorry for myself. Why didn’t boys like my great personality??? (I didn’t have a great personality). I had two dreams for myself in middle school—I would meet the perfect guy for me who didn’t CARE about how I looked, and I would go away for the summer and come back hot and beautiful like everyone else! In the meantime, I tried to fit in. I bought my Abercrombie shorts and Hollister tops and I even had a boyfriend for a short time (I only talked to him once a month . . . such is middle school romance) but I still felt helplessly awkward. 

My fashion choices were driven by shallow motivations: Look sexier! Look cooler! Look more like everybody else and you will become like everyone else. Middle school wasn’t a time of self-discovery for me, it was a time of insecurity and consequently my fashion choices weren’t a marker of my personality as much they were a tool I used to make myself blend in. It was about how people reacted to my clothes and not about how I felt in them.

Thankfully, that is a tale of middle school, and the summer of transformation I so longed for has come—if you can call three years a “summer.” It wasn’t like in the movies but I came back from this metaphorical summer a more interesting and confident person. Once I was able to break free from the claustrophobic angst of middle school, I had an opportunity for reinvention.

I started finding passions and tastes of my own, social justice, current events, film, music, all things I consider integral to my personality. It was only after I achieved this sense of self that I saw it reflected in the clothing I wore. I always want to feel good in my clothes, whether that’s feeling sexy, cool, mysterious, or whatever else I’m feeling that day. As I’ve grown, I’ve become confident enough in the parts of my personality that don’t have to do with what I look like to be able to really experiment with what I wear and feel fabulous doing it. Now, I set my own standards, and I want everyone to know it when they see me walking down the halls.


This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.

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How to cite this page

Edelhart, Sophie. "“ . . . So Then I Started Wearing Army Pants and Flip Flops”." 11 December 2014. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 29, 2021) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices/so-then-i-started-wearing-army-pants-and-flip-flops>.

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