Online school causes students to find new ways to express themselves

Without the interaction of in-person school, students can still find outlets of expression

If you’ve ever seen a tour group around campus before, you might have spotted a few of them looking more at the surrounding students than listening to their tour guide. There are a lot of big questions being asked of college students by their younger peers as they search for a school. But sometimes simple queries can make all the difference, like: “What do people wear to class?”

In an average school year, fashion is one of many outlets of expression. You can wear sweatpants and a t-shirt to class or a dress and full makeup and no one will judge you either way. For some, fashion is wholly unimportant. For others, it’s a way to show who they are when they can’t find another way.

Now we find ourselves in the year of COVID-19; how do we express ourselves? We see each other almost exclusively through a screen: there is no one to see your outfit in Speaker’s Circle and, quite honestly, it’s hard to even get dressed in the morning.

The most fashion-driven and self-confident will argue that they dress for themselves, so why not still do it? And they have a point. If what you’re wearing brings you joy in this time of darkness, don’t let the lack of exposure stop you. I know I feel better when I’m wearing one of my favorite outfits. But for those who are struggling to express themselves with a mostly online schedule, there might be a few new things for you to try out.

Our classmates might not see our outfits anymore, but they do see one aspect of our life, and a quite personal one at that: our room. Now, if you’re looking to demonstrate who you are to your peers, I see this as a perfect opportunity to go crazy with it. Are you a blank wall Zoomer? Fairy lights? Posters and photos? Or wait ... an outside Zoomer? Self-expression through your Zoom background just might have the potential to replace the campus fashion show for the time being.

Creativity in general has been on the rise since COVID-19 shut everything down. I have seen more small artists in my feeds in the last few months than I probably ever have and a whole lot of DIYs from some unexpected crafters. If decoration and dressing up are not for you, you might find solace in a new art form.

Stay-at-home orders had everyone feeling a little lost. Now, online school means students are experiencing some of the same emotions. We’re all struggling to find ways to express ourselves when we’re locked up in our rooms, but inspiration can be found in places as simple as your closet, your wall or your Instagram feed.

Edited by George Frey | gfrey@themaneater.com

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