“A prolonged childhood—permitted by industrial society’s current prosperity—redounds merely in a growing number of infantilized adults”
I’ve spent some time one of these weekends chain watching high school themed films on Netflix – you know how it is… You watch a film, you finish it, you are given similar suggestions and you end up getting caught up in a genre. I’ve always enjoyed watching some of these films – who doesn’t love Pretty in Pink or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? They are fun entertainment and also very stylistically enjoyable – the 80’s soundtracks and fashions always resonate with me as I was a child in that decade. In that sense it is part of my emotional landscape but I think that’s where the common elements end.
I don’t know if I have overdone it this time as I realized that there is a never ending abundance of said themed films. Being European and not having partaken in such rituals as cheerleading or having my own locker but having no doubt also lived through my teenage years in a different context, I established comparisons. The high school period of one’s life is just another part of your life. It is not overly glamourized nor (in the majority of the cases) a life traumatizing experience. It’s just the school you go to, where you hang out with your friends. You get to year 12, you finish and you move on, either to work or go to university, end of story. Certainly it is not the theme for endless film and tv series productions and part of the popular culture as it is in America. (Plus everyone was ugly and badly dressed).
Why does this happen? Why are adults clinging on to that part of their lives? Why this refusal to grow up and grow old? Staying young or with a young appearance is an obsession and the whole popular culture reflects this, particularly in America. I don’t think I am going out on a limb in saying that the American media industry has a lot to answer for when it comes to these matters all over the world. After all, these references have permeated our psyches all our lives because we all watched the same movies or tv series, no matter where we were when we were younger. Even when we know in our head that it is not right, we end up feeling inadequate in our ageing. You’re not a 20 something anymore? How dare you show your face in a concert or a club? How dare you wear something conspicuous? You put on a couple of pounds? You better lose them! You smile too much and it’s giving you wrinkles? Go buy a load of cosmetics to hide it and get surgery and botox if you can afford it. You feel sexy? Don’t be silly woman! This affects us women more than anyone else.
I’m not saying anything new here, I am aware of that. The whole fashion industry and culture is rigged to value only youth and youth alone. There are a few glimpses of change here and there (as shown on this brilliant article from the New York Times Why your Granpa is cooler than you, the success of Ari Seth Cohen’s blog Advanced Style or even Vogoff, where yours truly has been featured) but there is still a lot to be done. I’m not even that old but I can already see where this is headed and trust me, we are all going to end up in the same place – Old Timer Land. It is not healthy to be fixated on an aspect of your life. Life has to be lived in the present – who wants to go back to being an acne riddled teenager anyway?
It is about time we are not only body positive but also age positive – after all, we spend most of our lives being… old.
(What I wore in this photo: Skirt – H&M via Ebay, Boots – Dr Martens, Scarf – El Corte Ingles, Head Bow – H&M, Jumper– ASOS)