By Sofia Sears
Attention all parents with teenage children – this one is for you!
I’m not one to boast, but I have to say, I’ve managed to keep my parents on their toes when it comes to the inevitable controversy over every typical teenager’s easiest form of self-expression: our clothes. Let’s go down the very long, almost painfully so, list of phases yours truly has gone through, shall we? First, there was the usual phase, around the mere age of eight or nine, where human nature kicks in and makes us kids want to literally throw on every single pattern imaginable, adorning ourselves in a tacky clash of polka dots and stripes. The nicest way to put it is to say that an assortment of rainbow/glitter/rhinestones threw up on me. It was not pretty, it didn’t even match, slightly. Then there was the unexpected “goth phase”, one which admittedly I did not ever expect to go over well, the “matching everything” phase, the stereotypically “girly girl”, the nerdy-chic…
My point being, the list goes on. And as devastating as it is to glance at the pictures, which I have yet to burn, of those elementary/middle school days I like to call my pre-midlife crisis, it’s sort of irresistible, too. The thing is, those horrific, crazy outfits that I would never be caught dead wearing now? Once, those outfits, a long while ago, were who I was. And now, in my adolescent years, all I am trying to do is express who I currently am through the easiest form of it. The hardest part about being a slightly eccentric teen (as we all really are) is that parents just never seem to get it. I cannot recount the amount of times I have been at a friend’s house, in this year alone, where a parent has raised eyebrows or made a condescending little “hmph” sound at a certain item of clothing one of us was wearing. Subtext is definitely a well-known tool amonst parents.
Listen up, those who are raising us “crazed, hormonal” little teens. I get it. I understand that fashion is constantly, constantly, changing, and oh so rapidly. One day it’s crop tops, the next day it’s tea skirts, another it’s Supergas, the next it’s Birkenstocks. It’s really, well, confusing. But you have to understand: it’s confusing for teens too. We do not specifically wear atrocious, sometimes outlandishly risqué outfits, to confuse you. We wear it because we’re still lost. We are trying out as much as we possibly can, absorbing so many different messages of who we are supposed to be, and your criticism, your judgment, is most definitely not helping.
Do I wish I could be Jane Birkin and have effortlessly beautiful, classy style? Duh. But, sadly, my wishes are not bestowed unto me as soon as I wish them. We cannot just instantly know who we are. Let us wear our flower crowns, our cropped jeans, our round sunglasses. Right now, right or wrong in fashion is nonexistent. Everyone is trying absolutely everything. There is no black and white, it’s a big, mushy, puddle of grey area. And you should be pleased by that. Originality, by definition, is the quality of being novel or unusual. And you can bet your Phillip Lim bag that we are all trying so desperately hard to do just that. You don’t want a miserably dull, boring child, do you? I know scrutinizing every detail of every outfit can be a hard habit to kick, but do you like it when your daughter comments on your new “mom jeans”? I didn’t think so.
Look, we love you, truly, but, we own ourselves, meaning, we own our style. You are being hypocritical. Perhaps you never stormed out of the house wearing a crop top and chinos in your teenage years, but I am certain that you have, in your life, followed at least one ridiculous trend. You have tried something different, which can end disastrously. Next time you come close to making a snide comment about your son’s new Jordans, just think back to your high school experience. Remember yourself, and remember that we are just like you, just a little bit younger, a little bit more stylish, and… a bit less experienced. ♦