There are things that high school students wear these days that make them look as if they were dressed by blind six-year-olds, but I keep reminding myself of some of the silly things I used to put on my own body during my time at Central High.
The difference for me was that clothing was a way for me to avoid being classified—I’d purposefully don severely baggy Jnco skater jeans one day, an alligator polo and boot cuts the next, and a ghetto basketball jersey on day the third—but my darling little students squeeze themselves into their own hideous garb for the sole purpose of conforming to the strict social dress codes provided by their cliques and/or lunch table groups.
This is both sad and disconcerting. Not because teenagers are conforming—they’ve been doing that since young Mongols joined Genghis Khan’s army because “everybody else was doing it”—but because the fashion statements they attempt to make are less visually pleasing than watching Nick Nolte and Gary Busey wrestle each other nude. In baby oil. With their eyebrows shaved.
Let that one marinate for a second while I explain exactly how horrible some of these fads really are…
Ugg Boots. I don’t know if you’re familiar, but these basically look like tall, camelskin slippers for the low, low price of $150. The only things I can recall spending more than $100 on in the last ten years were my car, my college education, Amy’s engagement ring, and the Nintendo Wii. For a Midwestern kid to spend that kind of bread on boots that resemble something to be worn in the arctic seems ludicrous. The worst thing about these ugg-ly feet gloves? I’ve seen them worn with skirts.
Black Hair. As if the somewhat secluded goth sect sporting jet black locks wasn’t bad enough, the trend seems to have spread to the popular students as well. The preppiest of preppies have ditched what was formerly blonde hair in favor of an unnaturally dark hue in lieu. The contrast created by the switch, of course, makes their skin tone look paler than a polar bear in a snowstorm, but even player. Like vampire pale or Michael Jackson pale. I say leave that one to the gothic kids. They work hard to bend against the breeze, and if the cool kids are going black, they’ll have to don blonde, and black lipstick looks horrible on blondes.
Heelies. Shoes with wheels in the heels. What a splendid venture—if you’re seven. My fiancée’s fourth grade students get busted for rolling around the school every day (graciously, these shoes are outlawed in elementary schools), but my hormone-driven adolescents are wearing the same footwear, and with wheels on their feet they turn the hallways into Roller Derby. I don’t see what’s so wrong with just wearing rollerblades during non-school hours. Walking on your toes all day for the sake of harboring a renegade wheel in the well of your shoe soles seems silly, but I guess at the very least they’re building calf musculature.
Destroyed Jeans. Luckily for me I missed this trend entirely. I was too young for it when it came around the first time, and I’m too old for it now that it’s back. During the hair band 80s, however, the worst it got was stone-washing and tears. They’d buy a good pair of jeans and then destroy them themselves.
Not in today’s world. Kids actually pay money for jeans that are ripped up, stained, tattered, and/or urinated on. And they’ll pay $80 for a pair of jeans like that. Now, the staining and tears come in patterns, and the girls’ pants have strategically placed holes in suggestive areas so the boys sitting behind them can dream blissfully about the two-inch-by-two-inch hole in the head cheerleader’s upper thigh cloth.
Money is at the heart of my frustration. The worst thing is that these kids are spending their hard-earned dough on crappy fashion statements. Like me, though, they’ll learn someday. I spent my dough on stupid crap at one time, too. It happens.
Understand—I love my high school kids very much, but God bless the ones that just wear jeans and sweatshirts to school every day.