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Manhattan is a giant selfie. Just a loud, marketing-saturated, filtered Instagram photo. Of course I adored it. Of course I was totally enamored with the glamour of the Vanity Fair covers walking around me. I spent hours walking through Times Square, just digesting the visuals – the billboards, the flashing lights, the practiced self-possession of the Natives. But I didn’t feel out of place. I didn’t feel like an outsider. The clothing was a huge part of that. There wasn’t a uniform – everyone dressed amazing, but no one dressed the same. It was Hamptons Beach Party over here, Trapstar over there, Brooklyn Thrift on my left, Eurotrash on my right. There was no uniform.  Feeling like an outsider comes from breaking some sort of cultural norm and, despite my cheap and desperate black-on-black-on-black clothing,  I wasn’t violating anything. There wasn’t any (un)spoken rule on dress like back home. There weren’t any rules. Well, except to not make small-talk with strangers or walk slowly on the sidewalk. And really,  I can get behind both. I remember thinking “everyone here dresses amazing!” now, reflecting, I think “everyone here dresses for their own aesthetics and isn’t that better than some invisible-stigma uniform?” Arkansas, take note.

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