Cue Alan Jackson music.
Remember when… army boots were cool?
Remember when… flannel was da bomb?
Yes, go back to a time when greasy hair wasn’t a hygiene issue but a hair style (though to be honest, I still washed my hair daily.)
Though I’m dating myself and sounding especially old, I remember the grunge look that was hip when I was a teeny-bopper. Inspired by Kurt Cobain and lumberjacks, the grunge look was haute couture when I was in junior high.
Nowadays, the issue of teen sexualization is serious stuff, befuddling parents who watch their kids, especially young women, dress for school and dances in outfits that show skin which shouldn’t even see the light of day.
It wasn’t exactly a huge problem when I was in junior high. Don’t get me wrong: revealing outfits are nothing new, and they certainly existed when I was in secondary school.
However, grunge was an accepted mode of style and it was the antithesis (opposite) of revealing clothing. Grunge was all about hiding your body. Desexualization, as it were.
Flannel or plaid shirts often hid your figure, desexualizing your curves until you looked like a boy. Same goes for baggy pants, which ended with a pair of Doc Martens or army boots procured from Ron’s Army Navy (remember that spot?) for fifteen bucks.
I looked horrid in baggy clothes. I had a tendency to be overweight, and boyish clothes did nothing to flatter my figure (even though I thought I was hiding it at the time.) The androgynous look of the 90s served to show that I did not look like a boy no matter how hard I tried.
Yet even though I looked horrible, I was taking part in history.
Nod your head if you remember the following:
- silk, button up shirts
- plaid jumpers
- the perm
- mile high bangs (this is the PG-13 name for these)
- Doc Martens
- army boots (real army boots)
- beaded safety pins, usually on your army boots
- babydoll dresses
- track pants
- Umbro shorts
- shortalls (overalls that were made into shorts, one strap undone)
- anything from Champion or Adidas
- Air Jordans
- backpacks with one strap undone
- dying your hair with Kool-Aid (didn’t work for us brunettes)
As silly as some of these trends were (I really hated how the buttons on my trackpants would pop open at inopportune times) they provided a way to share in a common culture. At the time we were conformists (though nonconformity was our ultimate goal) and though that was an attempt to be liked by people who only paid attention to your appearance, I can look back and see myself not as a breed of sheeple, but as someone who took part in history as it was made.
In other words, I no longer care if I fit in or I didn’t (I didn’t, by the way) yet I still appreciate today that I tried.
Being a teenager is all about trying to fit in. If we grow properly and develop healthy self-esteem, we get to a point where we can look back on our teenage exploits and fashions and laugh. You can appreciate that you looked silly with your one strap undone on your coveralls.
All of us have had our fashion faux-pas at some point or another. Few of us grow up with the style savvy of Anna Wintour or Calvin Klein. The important thing is to laugh off the mistakes of yesteryear and realize we are so much bigger than that when we reach adults. We’re finally free of those silly trends.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go bleach my teeth.