#NaNonFicWriMo: Childhood Favorites
I don’t really have misgivings about getting older. The one exception may be my 25th birthday. The sudden onset of serious expectations and need to make major life decisions prompted a late night life planning session with Post its. Blame my baby face, but getting older is kind of amazing. So imagine my shock and awe and peri-elderly consternation when I saw social media photos of high school students who decided to dress as the 2000s for for their throwback day for homecoming week. I’m not so old that my teenage years are a throwback. Except that they are. As my too wise for his own good boyfriend pointed out, we used to dress as the 70s for our version of throwback Thursday in our childhood.
Turns out if you live long enough, sartorial deja vu occurs, parading all of the teenage cringeworthy fashion trends made fashionable. A fanny pack becomes a belt bag. And the glitter that you wore in the 90s that never really went away because glitter sticks to everything re-emerges reinvented. That is how we see not so young adults proudly parade their Magic card collections at the local hipster cafe because nerds are cool now.
I don’t pine for my childhood fashion choices. While the rest of the country was emulating either Mickey Mouse Club grads or gangster rappers with their clothing choices, Texas was a few years behind. You either fell in to the Abercrombie & Fitch camp full of polos, skorts and white Keds. Or you were a fake skater boy meets goth complete with Vans and JNCOs. I attended private elementary school, and felt terrified of having to think about my fashion choices at my public middle school. I wanted to blend in so badly but my physicality wouldn’t let me live. I was too tall, too overweight, and too not-blond to be an Abercrombie kid. And my little brother had already claimed JNCOs, so clearly that wasn’t an option. Size diversity was an unknown concept in the late 90s and 2000s.
I guess getting that pair of Doc Martens that I begged for in 7th grade didn’t hurt either. Everyone had those boots, and I thought they were the one obstacle between me and coolness. But every time I wore them, they were so heavy. That final disillusionment with pre-teen popularity prompted me to figure out things for myself.
Those who can’t dress, dream of a new wardrobe. Once a month, I grabbed stacks of magazines. I’d rip out pages of spreads, and cut out words and images that fit the teenage and adult life that I saw for myself. At first, I focused solely on clothes. Even though magazines can be terrible references for positive body image, they did help me learn what clothing could work with my body rather than against it. I also saw the clothing that genuinely interested me more rather than producing a carbon copy of what the cheerleading squad wore that week. Pretty soon, my analog Pinterest evolved to include other subjects such as work and travel.
I filled at least three notebooks throughout middle school visualizing the life I wanted to have. Although my closet never came close to replicating Cher’s closet in Clueless, I eventually found my own sense of style that worked for me, in large part to these images. A few Christmases ago, I stumbled across one of the notebooks while cleaning things out of my parents’ home. The clothes that impressed me were nothing special. I adored Delia’s, especially given my obsession with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
These days, I would never wear a scrunchie, butterfly clip, flared pants, or any kind of logo tee. But I loved what those clothing choices said about myself, even amid all of the self-doubt. I saw myself as a tough, independent person who didn’t fit in with the other people around her. When I was 13, this isolation felt terrible most of the time, but as an adult I embrace it as a expression of being the most me that I can be. I stopped wearing pants in 2009. I also went natural, making scrunchies, butterfly clips, and most other hair accessories a thing of the past. I stopped wearing graphic tees in college once I realized they were unflattering on me.
These days, I pretty much live in dresses and skirts because it’s easier to look put together and easier to get out of the door and on to the million things on my to do list. I spent all of middle school pleading for permission to wear makeup, even though I hardly wear it today with the exception of bold lipstick. I’d like to think that 13 year old me would be happy to see how continuing to make my own trends is the best decision.
I’m writing an unedited personal essay everyday of November for #NaNonFicWriMo, the non-fiction spin on #NaNoWriMo. You can find daily prompts on my Instagram. Want to join in? The only rules are at least 750 words about the daily prompt and tag #NaNonFicWriMo to share.