Friday, October 13, 2023

Money & Me: School uniforms and Red lipstick

My high school, "Malchika", was in the city of Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria. It was five miles away from my parents’ town. It was strategically located two blocks away from the main pedestrian-only shopping mall. During school recess, we would lose track of time checking the fashion trends in the apparel stores. At that time, high schools required uniforms. Every high school girl across the country wore the same boring dark blue cotton apron with an oval white collar, and two pockets, tight with a belt. You could wear whatever you want underneath it as long as it is neatly covered by the apron. 

Identity was only to be found in personality, not in appearance.

One December, a traveling carnival set the stage on the vacant parking lot by my school. Oddly, the shooting stall also sold lipsticks and nail polish. Committed to standing out in school despite my dull uniform, and because my personality was not quite colorful yet, I decided to buy lipstick. I skipped buying lunch for two weeks in order to afford the coveted beauty product. And even though I only could enjoy wearing it in recess, when school rules didn’t matter, or on a secret date with a boy after school, I was giddy to liven up my dark blue uniform with fire engine red lipstick. 

Most rewardingly, I had learned that if I wanted something I could make it happen, with enough financial discipline and sacrifice.

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