Growing up, I was pretty down-to-earth. I would play soccer after school, walk neighbor's dogs for money (an entire $5!), and occasionally, if I was lucky, get a new shirt from Target. No, I wasn't poor. Quite the opposite, actually.
I grew up in a wealthy town, where everyone around me was fixated not on the shoes I wore, but on the tiny label that could be found on the inside. It didn't quite make sense to me then, and I'm not quite sure it does now either.
Until age 12, I was a tomboy. I couldn't care less about how I, or anyone else, dressed. I did, however, begin to care when I reached the age of 13. I was in 7th grade, and I never felt more powerful. I strived to create my own individual style, and let’s just say it was far more "unique" than anyone else's. I was the first girl who was allowed to wear makeup, which I chose to purchase from Hot Topic- back when it was cool, of course. I paired my lime green-shadowed eyes with black polish on my long nails, and completed my look with thick, hot pink streaks in my waist-length dark brown hair. My parents encouraged individuality, which I certainly had no problem attaining.
Fast forward about two years to my freshman year in high school. I was now a bottle blonde with a fake Coach purse and 1.5-inch acrylic nails. I was friends with the girls on the dance team, with whom I skipped meals and reapplied my CoverGirl bronzer every hour, on the hour, as if it were my religion. We strived to be the South Florida reincarnations of Regina George, and lip gloss was never far out of sight.
Sophomore year, I transferred to a new school, where the houses were bigger and the noses were faker. Girls here had real Coach bags, as well as clothing made by then-foreign Italian brands. I was disgusted by their shallowness, and even more, by how much of my old self I saw in these inhuman clones of each other. From that moment on, I strived to be as far away from the girl I was only a few months prior as possible. I refused to wear anything designer, and I wouldn’t buy anything expensive unless it was already on sale. I became a vegetarian, and stopped wearing makeup altogether. In a way, I was a Hippie, minus the drugs and free sex, of course.
Junior year, after the boy I was “in love with” fell for the rich blonde girl with the flawless makeup, I put my inner “flower child” to rest. I began wearing makeup again, and I became less opposed to designer brands, not that I could ever wrap my mind around spending hundreds of dollars on a purse, of all things. I became balanced, a word that once scared me to death, as my extreme personality encourages the exact opposite. Oh, and the boy? He later turned out to be gay.
I continued this positive path throughout the rest of high school, and now, a freshman in college, I had believed I was still on it. Until, of course, I was approached by a street style blogger on the busy Manhattan streets just a week ago, who asked me what I was wearing, to which I answered: “Michael Kors sunglasses, Banana Republic boots, ToyWatch watch, True Religion jeans, BCBG top, Burberry cardigan, and Coach purse.”
What had happened? I had finally achieved a balance, but now, my outfit easily cost over $1000, and I didn’t even notice. Heck, I was even carrying a Coach purse! Now, looking through my closet, it seems my style has transformed once again. But this time, it wasn’t overnight; it was a gradual change. Although I had grown up in an upper-middle class family, my parents had raised me in a way to assure that I wouldn’t end up this way, just like everyone I was once surrounded by. But now, I’m the person they’ve always tried to prevent, as well as the one I’ve both loved and hated. My name is Mallory Levy, and I’m a Brand Whore.