9:00 AM

I woke up this morning to a pin-stripe dress. It has buttons all the way down and a back with straps that cross over each other in an X-formation. It's simple, but brightens my otherwise groggy and unpleasant spirit as soon as I put it on. Afterwards I swipe on dark brows, a light blush, and a pink-tinged highlight, looking like a much more put together version of myself than I was twenty minutes before.

The transformation is a subtle, yet empowering one. This is armor, allowing me to take on the day with the confidence that I am ready for it. This is not an attempt to disguise myself, to cover up flaws, or fool others into thinking I am something that I am not. This is me putting myself first every morning, an allotted time only for self care and setting up my day to be the person I want to be.

I've been told numerous times that there is no reason to try so hard every day, or that people who care about their clothing, hair, or makeup are shallow. These comments are typically made by people who have yet to experience the power that comes along with a hoop earring or a perfectly-executed cat eye; they're cast out by people who claim to not care about how they look, who believe outward appearance has nothing to do with inward feelings.

I'm here to say that my high-waisted shorts and sparkly pink lipgloss beg to disagree. When I'm dressed up I'm more productive, outgoing, and, most importantly, I'm more happy. I put in effort to create a look I'm proud of, and that transforms into a day where I didn't shy from taking on difficult tasks or talking to new people because I highlighted the parts of myself that I love.

To those who may disagree, I challenge you to go out and find pieces that make you feel beautiful. Try on everything: colorful, comfortable, different, ridiculous, simple. If it makes you smile, cherish that. The first step to being happy is learning to be happy with yourself, and maybe all you need to achieve that is a costume that makes you feel confident.

Whether you prefer flouncy dresses, edgy platform boots, or sparkly crop tops, don't be afraid to wear what you want. We're all different, and the world is such a more beautiful and interesting place when we put our diverse style on display proudly. Love yourself, dedicate time every morning to set yourself up to be the person you want to be, and never let anyone tell you that idea is shallow.