Leaving private school made this girl into the badass she is today

You’ve seen it in movies, you’ve seen it on TV and you’ve heard about it through the grapevine: private school. A school full of little rich kids receiving an education that will probs go to waste because let’s face it, they’re getting into Ivy League schools on legacy either way.

But going to private school in Los Angeles is kind of a different story. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly thankful for my education and it taught me more than I could imagine, but it wasn’t easy. It was a small school, with no more than 120 kids per grade. If you went there, you had money unless you were on an academic scholarship. Most kids had parents in the acting industry, which wasn’t a big deal. What was a big deal was the culture surrounding that.

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It was hard to watch kids have absolutely no boundaries with their parents’ money, whether it was buying cars, drugs, or handbags. In LA, there is obviously a huge stigma around eating healthy, being healthy and looking “pretty.” Being so confined in a school with same routine and seeing the same people every day really takes you out of the real world, or whats considered “normal.” You had to be thin, wearing a non-designer handbag was a rarity and I guess it was pretty cool to have a Jetta, but not as cool as having a brand new BMW. Also, the school was basically empty when it was Coachella, for both weekends one and two. It was pretty absurd.

What’s scary is the idea that this life was incredibly normal for most people that went there. As for my friend group, we had a pretty different outlook on things. Basically, we were just down to earth. As we all went off to college, I saw my friends grow and become their own people — the people they were afraid to be before.

I interviewed a close friend of mine, Colette Lathan, on how going to college has helped her discover her confidence and be who she truly wants to be.

Before you went to college, how would you describe your sense of style?

Before I went to college my style was very basic. I didn’t really want to stand out, and even if I liked an outfit I would usually just go with what I thought was the most “chill.” My style definitely did not show my personality. I’d have a few staple accessories to make things cute, but over all I wore a lot of black and didn’t take many risks.

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After leaving private school, what changes have you noticed about yourself?

After leaving high school and the LA private school bubble in general, I kind of opened my eyes and was able to pinpoint where so much of my insecurity came from. I was like one of four black girls in my graduating high school class, which at the time we knew was crazy but it didn’t really dawn on me how much of an effect that had on my life until later.

My self image and ideals were completely dictated by my surroundings. I was so self conscious because white beauty was always the standard. When people complimented black women it was because they were exotic or pretty for a black girl, as if black beauty just didn’t measure up.

Graduating and leaving LA gave me a confidence I had never felt that opened me up to explore internally and creatively. My style reflects my personality way more now because I have a love for myself that I never did before.

@pitbull wassup

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What would you say the pros and cons are of going to a private school in Los Angeles?

In high school I met an amazing group of people who I still consider to be some of my best friends. We made really genuine and supportive relationships that have lasted the years and the distance and taught me so much. Also, we were provided with countless resources, small classes, and a really immersive educational experience that made me excited about learning. I enjoyed school, but the privilege and whiteness we were surrounded with kept a lot of students trapped inside this bubble of blissful ignorance about the world.

I did a lot of things during high school that got me out of that bubble and allowed me to meet new people and start to get an understanding of the world, but a lot of kids didn’t and probably never will.

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How has your style evolved since leaving Los Angeles?

I incorporate colors way more often, I honestly hate wearing all black now. Bright colors — reds and yellows and oranges especially — are my favorite. I love big puffy weird jackets, I also really like the monochrome look and just being overly matchy with colors. I also went from ONLY wearing studs to hating studs. I love dangly earrings and hoops, without them I feel naked.

I answer the phone like “yellow???”

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Who are you main style inspirations? 

I have so many, it varies by the day. Rihanna, Solange, Tatianna Price, Denise Huxtable but also Whitney. Cher and Dionne. I’m a girl with many moods.

Have you had any interesting experiences as your style began to change?

Every time I come back home, especially since I’ve been wearing braids again, I just get the most odd and semi-back handed compliments. “Your look is so fun and different” or “I wish I could do that with my hair, but I’d look crazy!” from people I either don’t know or haven’t spoken to in years. When I wear something with bright colors or patterns there’s always the classic “I love your outfit! I could never wear that.” It almost seems like people feel obligated to comment on my style or hair without having anything to actually say.

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