Christmas shopping gets me out to the stores. Typically, except for the food markets, some Amish markets, or “Southern States,” I just do not shop. I have enough clothes to last me the rest of my life.
But at Christmas, I think of my daughters and daughters-in-law, my nine granddaughters, and a granddaughter-in-law. It is fun, but I am lost out there. Thank goodness! My family is pretty conservatively dressed, much of the time.
Clothes do not look the same as they did when I was young. The change has been gradual, but I am getting on in years, so we are not speaking of only a decade or so of difference. It is three-quarters of a century since I used to shop for what I believed were very “with it” clothes. The idea of “teenage” clothes was new in the 1950s. Before that, clothes were either for children or for grown-ups. The whole idea of being a teenager as a separate entity was caused by several things happening simultaneously. Those things changed the culture forever.
First of all, child labor was ruled illegal. Education became mandatory. And since more people were going to school for more years, a “group” was created where no such thing had existed before. The fact that there was transportation available to bus children from rural areas into large schools gave these “teenagers” a “location.” Before the automobile, schools tended to be within walking distance of students. They were small and localized. Students of all different ages learned together in the same space. The concept of instilling ideas of what to do and how to dress as a group, was thought up as a marketing tool. Some very smart people in advertising realized a new consumer sector was ready to be tapped.
And now, three-quarters of a century later, we have a whole subculture that dresses differently, speaks differently, and believes things that would have horrified their grandparents. More than 50% of them think they want to live in a socialist country.
These young people swear constantly. They use the “F” word as easily as they eat a potato chip with as little stigma. Their bodies are often tattooed or pierced in observable places; you cannot miss these alterations. Their hair changes color with a whim. And shaving part of the scalp is typical, as are all sorts of strange conglomerations of braids. They are often soft and unathletic, too busy at their screens to go outside. Exercise is for old foggies.
They are overly sensitive and easily “triggered”. They have been kept safe all their lives. And they like it. They seem to have opted to extend their teen years into their twenties. No one wants to grow up. They shun responsibility. They want to have fun and be free. Even a job can be a drag, but marriage and children are definitely out of the question. They do not want to bring babies into the world. It is a world they could work to improve, but instead, they simply refuse to populate it. Luckily a few still think it is cool to give birth.
Their tragedy is that no one ever explained to them that responsibility is rewarding. Taking charge of one’s life is empowering. Knowing how to complete tasks is energizing. Having skills like carpentry or electrical training or even just foraging for food or, better yet, hunting for it, builds character. Having babies has some downsides, but overall, it is THE PURPOSE OF LIFE. It is the most wonderful accomplishment one can complete. What has happened to this knowledge?
These skirts are transparent.
Their clothes have evolved into brightly colored pieces of sleazy material, which often barely cover them. They look like “hookers.” Shear blouses and skirts show bright-colored underwear. Or sometimes just bare flesh. The amount of naked flesh visible at a gathering of young people is breathtaking. Even weddings have devolved into brides seeing whose wedding dress can reveal the most without actually showing nipples or the crack in the bride’s backside as she dances her wedding dances. Seriously, when did this become OK? Wedding dresses were once meant to be modest. These gowns were long-sleeved and certainly covered the back and the bosom. I long for a return to at least the illusion of modesty.
If my mother could see these girls, she would say they look like “streetwalkers”. And she would be right. There will be a sad backlash when the next generations start wearing granny dresses. But that is precisely what happens when things swing too far in one direction. Gravity takes over somehow, and the pendulum swings the other way.
Teenagers need to get a grip, learn a skill, put down the iPad, cook, sew, chop wood, and remember we are all human. (so far)
Copyright©. 2023 Bonnie B. Matheson