Shopping with a 12 year old gir, er, young lady.

Way back when, before the internet, before Nintendo and before SUV’s, girls shopped at Jay Jacobs. A now extinct old dinosaur. Flashdance apparel, neon colors, and wierd stuff that was “de riguer” in the 80’s was all located here and at other stores I never went to, primarily because by the time 8th grade rolled around, I was thrifting as much as I could (not easy without a car). I was a hair farmer hippie chick. I had the hair for it. A looooooooooong time ago.

About week ago I underwent an anthropological experiment in taking my neice Christmas shopping. One thing I can say definitively is that my neice is pretty mature given her age. Second thing I can say is that they now sell in stores alot of the stuff that I was thrifting in 8th grade. Not that I was so ahead of the times, but the shabby chic of strange seventies or sixties-ish stuff is now full retail. See Wet Seal.

She gave me a rundown of the brands (I already knew them, and my only general sentiment has ever been total and complete disinterest). She is in that prime age where a sweatshirt isn’t really a sweatshirt, it’s a hoodie, and it means precisely nothing unless it says “Billabong” or “Roxy” or some other name of some other company that manufactures sporting equipment of one type or another.

Even when I was young, about the only name I wanted on my shirt was that of an obscure band, and while for about 15 minutes I wanted an Ocean Pacific shirt once, I got over it. But in middle school, it is insanely huge. I have already dated myself , and it is clear that I am approaching Crusty. This shopping excursion sealed the deal.

Am I the only one who feels the companies should pay me to advertise their logo?

I knew because I was pretty thoroughly grossed out by the Hollister mannequin whose pants would have revealed, were the mannequin anatomically correct, the precise male accoutrements that give pants their purpose. The store itself was an incarnation of a skanky frat house on the beach and a Calvin Klein ad where people are contorted in black and white and advertising cryptically named fragrances. I didn’t really feel old as much as something else, something like pity. My neice must have felt the same thing because we didn’t linger there for long. But while I was there, I did what I do worst, I chilled and tried not to look like a disapproving prune faced old biddy.

Actually I was smiling and thanking God I was no longer 13, among other things. And hoping we could leave soon.

We also stopped at PacSun. She neither surfs nor skates, but this is the place to buy clothing suggesting a generally supportive attitude to these sports. How timeless is skateboarding and surfing. They reek youth culture. And there is lots of benjamins in those Volcom garb.

Our first stop, mentioned last, was where I saw the most retro stuff. Wet Seal“Teen clothing for girls”. Despite their clear statement of their target, the models saying they are about 6 to 7 years older than who they are aiming for. In the store was music I listened to in high school. Stuff they really had to dig up, or someone did anyway. The clothes were alot like disco diva stuff only sized for girls. I felt my lunch returning on me as I wished girls could just be girls and not be pushed into looking like…something else.

My sweet faced neice, she really has amazingly avoided any misery in these awkward years so far. She was not without a trial though, as she dealt with allopecia and lost every strand of hair on her body, even her eyelashes when she was 11. She would tell me stories of other little girls excluding her, and people asking if she was in treatment. I wanted to choke the other little girls, but she did look like she was in chemo.

All told the experiment yielded some not surprising results. Early teen kids behave in totally predictable patterns, meaning, they are very similar in some ways generation to generation. No matter how much more sophisticated they are these days in some ways. I guess I am relieved about that.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Megan says:

    Thank you for that stroll down amnesia lane. haha Your neice does sound quite mature for her age, probably because of her experience with allopecia.You made a great point in the end about the behavior of each teenage generation being the same. I think it’s only the mode of behavior that changes. For example, it was harsh dumping someone by phone back in our day, whereas nowadays the same thing is said about texting a breakup. Same sentiment, different mode of behavior. It does make me sad how fast the kids grow up nowadays. (God I just sounded really old there.) But it sounds like your neice is able to take things in stride. She’s got one good head on her shoulders. I wonder if this generation of kids will one day look back and regret that they more or less missed their childhoods. Only time will tell.(And 80s clothes were totally awesome. I *heart* the 80s.)(Yes, I am that geeky.)

  2. happychyck says:

    Teens ARE predictable, aren’t they? Sometimes it cracks me up how original they think they are, and how they are the only ones who have suffered. They are all balanced on trying to be themselves while fitting. Your neice sounds like a rockin’ young lady who’s figured out some things about life already! I think those poor kids who suffer the most are the strongest and most likely to succeed in life.

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