Style Is Forever: Why I'd Rather Be Called Stylish Than Beautiful

by Zara Barrie

It all started with a septum piercing. Yes, a seemingly simple septum piercing led me to a seemingly life-changing epiphany of epic proportions.

I'm one of those madly melodramatic girl entities who is able to obtain massive life-altering realizations from little, tiny moments. I hold on to whatever life throws at me and run wild with it.

Last week, it was all derived from a septum piercing. I was lying flat on my back listening to the angst-ridden sounds of Fiona Apple sifting through the speakers, as I scrolled through Instagram.

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon, and the sun was shining through the windows of my tiny Upper East Side apartment.

I was deliriously happy to waste time daydreaming on the couch whilst mindlessly adhering my eyes to the pleasing images from Pinterest and Instagram.

I came across a classically beautiful girl. California beautiful, if that makes sense.

She had an endless flow of perfectly tousled hair and a smattering of freckles gracefully dancing across the bridge of her nose that made it look as if she had a mystical constellation of stars scattered across her face.

Her skin was the color of soft honey, and her eyes were an ethereal seafoam green.

Right in the middle of her face was a large, silver, tribal-looking septum ring hanging from the center of her nostril. I immediately liked it and wished I had one.

Right then and there, I decided I was going to get a septum piercing for myself.

I've always been an absolute lover of style.

Style is everywhere and in everything.

To me, style is everywhere and in everything. It has far more depth and meaning than just the way you dress. It's not about the brand of jeans you prefer or whether or not you choose to highlight your hair.

Style is the way you live your life. It's the unabashed expression of who you are. When a girl is unafraid to express her personal sense of style, she's unafraid of herself. When you don't question your aesthetic, you don't question yourself.

I think it's deeply affirming to the spirit to dress for yourself and wear what you like, regardless of what society thinks.

So when I decided I wanted to get my septum pierced, it wasn't a choice I mulled over. I saw it. It was pleasing to my keen eyes, so I simply decided to get one.

After all, style is visceral. It resides in the heart, not the head. It's not something you think about it. You just feel it. Which is why fashion “rules” are for people who are too caught up in intellect and fear their imaginations.

Leave pretty to the plastics.

Later that week, I found myself uncomfortably sipping on a cocktail, basking in the summertime sun on a rooftop bar of a trendy hotel in Williamsburg.

I wasn't among my people. I was at an acquaintance's birthday party, and the crowd was simply a teeming sea of conventionally “pretty” people.

Oh you know the types: $75-dollar blowout. Designer denim. Low-cut shirt. Spray tan.

The girls who sat at the popular table in high school. They're all pretty but would never dare to embark on a fashion risk (or any risk for that matter. They tend to lead very safe, basic lives).

They've never had the impulse to experiment with black lipstick or a strange heel. They've never tried on a purple ombre wig just for the hell of it.

Style to them is simply to dress sexy enough to garner the attention from men. In fact, style, a personal sense of aesthetic, isn't something they've ever thought about.

I always feel wildly out of place with these types of girls. Girls who feel they have to fulfill the pretty-girl prototype.

For my people are the stylish eccentrics. A 25-year-old man who fearlessly wears maxi dresses and head turbans to Whole Foods just for kicks. A madly tattooed hairstylist with the largest collection of wings in New York City.

A badass girl chef who lives in flowing bohemian dresses and makes homemade soaps in her spare time. A wild-haired fashion maven who used to put black eye shadow over her red lipstick.

When I feel out of place, I tend to overdrink in order to curb the pesky sweeps of social anxiety and irrepressible feelings of listlessness.

Why do we actively put ourselves in these situations as grown-ups? We're not in high school anymore.

We can walk away from the world of mean girls and popular tables and do our own thing with people we like enough without being wasted.

But alas, I was among the plastics. And I was on the whiskey train, and I wasn't going to hop off anytime soon.

I decided to tell my basic company about my upcoming septum piercing. I spoke with booze-fueled beams of massive excitement.

The most plastic of the girls, a villainous-looking brunette who speaks through her nose and is perpetually in perfectly pressed jeans (I don't trust people who press their f*cking denim) peered at me with a condescending glint radiating from her electric blue eyes:

"Why the f*ck would you do that, Zara. You're like pretty. Pretty girls don't get septum piercings. It's not, like, pretty."

“How many f*cking times can you say the word 'pretty' in a sentence? You clearly haven't opened up a book in a decade you trite f*cking trollop,” I angrily thought to myself.

And I was suddenly fueled with an irrepressible, wildly irrational surge of rage. F*ck her. Who says “pretty” is the ultimate goal, anyway?

And it hit me like a ton of hot bricks right up there on the rooftop bar of the gorgeous Wythe Hotel on a boozy summertime New York City afternoon:

I would choose style over beauty any day of the week.

Genetics are just genetics; style is cultivated.

You haven't accomplished anything in the world by being simply born a beautiful entity. Genetics are genetics. It's simply the luck of the draw. At the end of the day, it's meaningless.

Being pretty doesn't speak to your character, or your creativity, or your talent or your brilliance. It's simply superficial.

Style is vastly different. For style isn't something you're born with. It's something that you cultivate over time. It doesn't live on the outside. It comes from within.

It's derived from your vast array of life experiences, and travels and feelings. Personal style is unique to you, and it's not something anyone can take away from you.

Beauty can be taken from you as easily as it's given to you.

Beauty is fleeting; style is forever.

Beauty will always be ever-fading. No matter who you are or how much money you have, you will f*cking age.

One day, you will slowly start to fall out of the bloom of your youth, and the wear and tear of life will take residence across your face.

People who hang on to their beauty rather than work to cultivate a personal style live in constant fear of aging. They do whatever they can to hold on to their beauty because it's all they have.

They don't see the beauty in age; stylish people see the age as character.

Stylish people have more than just their physical appearance to hold on to. They can appreciate the quirks and the wisdom in getting older.

After all, style only gets better with age.

Beauty is wildly subjective; style is personal.

What the f*ck is beauty anyway? It's not real. It's a f*cking farce. We all have different definitions of what's deemed beautiful.

So what is the point in striving to be conventionally beautiful when everyone has such a different perception of beauty? I think a septum piercing is beautiful. Because I choose wild self-expression over physical perfection.

Style is you. Don't let anyone else define it for you. To be stylish is to be madly original and gorgeously authentic.

I will leave you with the following quote from the original queen of style, the late, long-time Vogue Editor-In-Chief, Diana Vreeland:

“Style -- all who have it share one thing: originality.”