Life as High School

July 24, 2013

“A prolonged childhood—permitted by industrial society’s current prosperity—redounds merely in a growing number of infantilized adults”

Don Calacho

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)

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  • Reply Señora Allnut July 24, 2013 at 08:56

    very interesting observation about that high school genre. I’ve always thought it was just an american cultural peculiarity, but we’re being bombed with that kind of messages about how important is to be a teen forever!
    My real life and interesting experiences begun really when I was eighteen and went to the university, yes, that was important because I was becoming adult!!
    (of course, love that 80’s films! and love your cute outfit, red skirt and heart detailed cardi are so pretty!)

  • Reply Jet aka Punk Glam Queen July 24, 2013 at 17:36

    Interesting thoughts… I always liked the silliness of those films, still do (especially the ones with John Cusack, he did the silly teen so well — ever see “Better Off Dead”? one of the funniest dark humor movies from that time period about HS). I hated school, was bullied horribly and my life didn’t change for the better until I was in my early teens and pretty much said a huge “fuck off” to everyone and did as I pleased, including looking as I pleased. No way in hell would I want to stay young forever, too many amazing things to experience in life as you get older. And it keeps getting more amazing if you open yourself to it. As for now, I’ll be 54 in November & I’ll wear whatever I want & whoever comments that it isn’t “age appropriate” gets a firm tongue lashing from me. I don’t know if you saw on FB that I went to a death metal show a few weeks ago, yeah I was the oldest there, but I had fun! (Until it drove me insane!) Wrinkles? Yep proud of mine, they show a life well-lived & filled with both joy & sorrow — I have emotions and they show on my face, not interested in looking like a statue! The stupidity of all this “youth” worship is that we start to age from the day we’re born & continue to do so if we’re lucky. Yeah some people are blessed with amazing genetics and will always look great, look at Iman, or Helen Mirren, both goddesses as far as I’m concerned! I hope I look that good when I’m their age! XXX

  • Reply pastcaring July 25, 2013 at 08:12

    There’s much talk on blogs about age at the moment. I can’t say that getting older is much of a problem for me, it is what it is. Age seems to matter so much to some people, especially the media – in every article, every interview, a person’s age is always mentioned, it’s as though it defines them, and enables categorisation. It just isn’t that much of a big deal to me!
    Never a big fan of all those Brat Pack teen angst type films myself (though Grosse Pointe Blank is a funny take on the high school reunion.) Like you, the high school obsession just passed me by – I went to school, then left and life began! xxxx

  • Reply Tami Von Zalez July 25, 2013 at 18:48

    Here here sista – as a fellow Vogoff participant, I agree Age Positivity can be a good thang.


  • Reply Melanie July 27, 2013 at 06:35

    Okay, I haven’t actually READ your post YET, but was drawn immediately to the photo. You are such an artist! I’m sure I’ll like the writing too, but I couldn’t help myself.

  • Reply Melanie July 27, 2013 at 06:41

    Okay, just read your post too. I like the ideas you raise. I firmly believe that it’s not our looks that make us compelling as we age. Although we have freedom in how we present ourselves, which depends on how comfortable we are handling the lack of or abundance of attention we get, it’s what we DO with our passions, our talents, our gifts, that really count. I keep telling myself that… (What’s the name of your plastic surgeon again?…LOL)

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