Sunday, August 18, 2013

From Awkward Phase to Shining Awkward Phase

That's me on he right. When i was still shorter than my big sis.

My kids are super duper cute. I don’t feel that humility is necessary in this regard; it’s just a statement of fact. Yet I can’t help but wonder how appearances will change in the years to come. I was also a pretty cute little kid, until my big girl teeth came in and I started making fashion choices for myself. Then I went through several horrendously awkward phases from 3rd grade to 8th grade, at which point my teen years brought a whole new set of styles. 

2nd grade: still cute
3rd grade: starting to go awry. Don't you just love the side pony and amazing 80s sweater?

 When I was little, I rocked the adorable strait bangs and whatever lovely 80s clothing my mom chose. That’s the stage when anything goes, when no one needs to be embarrassed because you’re small and cute and not at all responsible for your appearance. But the second half of elementary brought with it greater independence and major buck teeth. I remember my best friend in 2nd & 3rd grade, a Canadian redheaded boy, whose mom once told me I looked like a beaver. Nice, right? It didn’t help that I had spurned any trace of hair hanging in my face by cementing it all down in a slicked-back ponytail (topped off with the infamous scrunchy), emphasizing my generous forehead. Pair the beaver teeth and drive-in-movie-screen forrid with the oversized Looney Tunes T-shirts and tapered stonewashed teal and purple paint-splattered jeans (I had them in blue and black denim), and you have one stylin’ 9-year-old. 

4th grade. Nice outfit.
Standard hairdo

Then came the bangs and braces of middle school. I had braces for just two or three years, rubber bands and all, which were the perfect complement to my huge bangs and du roll. (I think that’s what you call the hairstyle where you make a ponytail but don’t pull it through all the way the second time, leaving you with this loopy bun thing.) Remember that? And remember when giant bangs were the thing? As much as my folks hated them, I had that fad nailed. I recall being asked all the time just how I styled my bangs so perfectly. I don’t know what answer I furnished at the time, but the truth is that I used a whole can of hairspray each morning and avoided the slightest breeze like the plague. I also spent hours on them every day. And beneath my glorious bang dome, lurked numerous purple curling iron burns. 

Looking hot in 6th grade
Apparently I wasn't a fan of my yearbook photo?

And let’s not forget the skater grunge fashion of the 90s: plaid flannel shirts and massively wide jeans that covered your shoes. If you were that cool. Remember JNCOs? I was beyond thrilled if my mom agreed to splurge on the brand, but often had to wear knock-off wide-leg jeans that completely covered my knock-off Vans. My best friend’s grandpa called me “Droopy Drawers”, a label that made me proud. Strangely. 

I remember when the more preppy girls started wearing flared jeans and sweaters; I vowed to never wear flared jeans. I also vowed to shun skinny jeans when they re-emerged in the 2000s, but neither vow really stuck. Peer/societal pressure, y’all. Between 7th and 8th grade, I got my braces removed and chopped off all my hair. (Other than a few trial grow-outs here and there, I’ve pretty much had the same haircut since.) One particularly intelligent classmate of mine was shocked at the things I had in common with another girl who had attended the year before—we even the same name and were both good at art! Yeah, that other girl was me, but apparently I looked so different people thought I was a new student. 

8th grade
10th grade?
11th grade

Through high school I had a schizophrenic alternative style: some days skaterish, others punkish, occasionally raverish—despite never actually skateboarding or doing ecstasy. Well, I guess I was moderately mainstream in 8th and 9th grade, even sporting the occasional crop top (oh the flat, flawless belly of youth!) or floral print now and then, but after switching schools I switched gears. I suppose I was inspired by hormones, teen and artistic angst, the desire to separate myself from my popular then-blonde sister, and the need to rebel against my middle class religious upbringing. Who knows. 

In any case, I rocked the combat boots, the uber chunk heels; I had this one pair of fire engine red shiny shoes with that awful wide square toe and the giant block heel that I loooooved. I had the red hair, the orange hair, the purple hair, the black hair—either manically hacked with scissors or buzzed with the 1” clippers by yours truly. One of my fondest memories is my wearing a bright red dress to prom, with my inch-long black hair, teamed up with my punky boyfriend in his black suit and bright red foot-tall mohawk and big ol' septum piercing. (How I ended up married to a hippie cowboy, we’ll never know. Other than the opposites attract thing I suppose…)

12th grade (prom)

I mellowed a bit in college; I let my hair grow into its natural brown, and settled into the thrift shop boho style that I still sort of wear today. There was a decade-long hiatus in which I let my hair stay natural. There was also a perm in there somewhere. Bad idea. I grew it out almost waist-long after getting married, you know, trying to be a grown-up lady…until I got pregnant with #2 and chopped it off again. Now that I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for a year I find myself reverting to self-inflicted haircuts and the desire to dye it more interesting colors again. Now I rebel against domesticity and mediocrity and boredom by Pinteresting tattoos I’ll probably never get and by having other peoples’ babies. L.O.L.

Freshman year in college
And I digress. I’m only reflecting on all the drastic phases I’ve gone through in fear of what could be with my own little people as they grow up—especially for Tuesday. Boys have it easy. The only embarrassing phases guys from my era have are bowl cuts and hedgehog hair with frosted tips. Plus they generally can forego the really extreme teenage girl angst, and the learning-to-properly-apply-makeup phase, which can result in the lovely pinkish-white foundation mask. I think my darling husband (although he had a good bucked tooth phase followed by the braces phase, all with the awkward gangly youth thing and the tallness and the redheadedness, poor dear) grew up seamlessly, with no inexplicable rebellion or extreme self-expression or shape-shifting. 

Maybe our kiddos will be easy like he was (from a parenting perspective anyway…the wifely perspective is a whole other thing). Although the tremendous strong-willed independence possessed by both wee babes could foreshadow trouble. They are already very clearly passionate individuals, very loudly and forcefully expressing the whole color wheel of emotion. Not to mention they are already starting to feel strongly about their clothes: Tuesday refuses to wear anything but “pretty dresses” and Dirt refuses to wear anything that doesn’t have a shark or an alligator or a T-Rex on it. Can’t wait to see what fashion battles we’ll have in the future…and what sort of ridiculous fads will be in vogue. 

I guess, if nothing else, we can have a pile of embarrassing photos from all their embarrassing phases in the end, and they can write self-deprecating blogs lamenting their style choices as adults. That could be fun.

Hair today, aka short married hair (nearing 30 years old)


  1. Ah the number of JNCOs I stuffed in mail pouches.
    An aspect of absurd lost on my sons was their gansta attire and hillbilly accents.
    This too passed.
    And ask my father next you see him if he remembers my transitioning from hippie to red neck.
    On road trips he used to catch me napping against the window, sneak the window open slightly until some of my long hair got sucked out, then sneak the window back closed.
    Then wake me up.
    Good times.

    1. That is awesome and hilarious. Was he giggling to himself or acting serious while he got your hair caught in the window? I also enjoy the image of hillbilly gangsta composite. Magnificent.

  2. It was David, totally deadpan.


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