Friday, October 11, 2013

Reliving my teenage years

I've been wallowing in a sort of second adolescence lately. It's mainly been driven by the young adult films I've been watching and books I've been reading, which I've written about at Junkee and the Wheeler Centre. In my Wheeler Centre essay, I write:
Has my brain actually regressed to a high-school level? I don’t know what’s wrong with me; last week I was walking down the street and, in some kind of awful adolescent fugue, I found myself in Dangerfield. (As I write, I’m wearing a Dangerfield hoodie with little stars on it.) Much as Clary learns to see through supernatural glamours and understand the language of runes, the overwrought lyrics of ridiculous emo bands are beginning to make sense to me. Yesterday I had a house inspection and, as I showed off my freshly tidied bedroom, I felt like shouting at my real estate agent, ‘YOU’RE NOT MY REAL MUM!’
The really terrifying thing about stepping into Dangerfield was just how much of the merchandise resembled the stuff I used to buy at Dangerfield 20 years ago. The 1990s are well and truly back in fashion, a realisation that hits me afresh every time I see a young chick walking down the street in painfully high-waisted jeans.

In a way, this is a depressing turn of events, because it underlines that I am old and irrelevant; this is the first time my own personal past has been reinvented for a new generation. (The '80s didn't really count, because I was just a kid, whereas the '90s were when I first asserted my own taste and became interested in fashion.)

But I am oddly exhilarated as well, because the great thing about this is that I get to relive my salad days (usually a pathetic pursuit) while actually being fashionable. Of course, younger people probably look at me and still think I'm pathetic, but WHATEVER, I think I'm awesome.

As I write in Out of Shape:
I was heading to a 1990s-themed house party, dressed like one of MC Hammer’s backing dancers in bike shorts and a tank top under a brightly coloured floral chiffon shirt, with chunky gold jewellery and my actual 1995-vintage Doc Martens (they were my school shoes!). Writing this book must be emboldening me, because the last time I went out in public dressed like this, I was in Year 7 and hadn’t so much hit puberty as gently patted it a few times.
That party was in January this year, but I have actually got loads of wear from the chunky gold necklace I bought for my costume. And it wasn't vintage; it was new from el-cheapo costume jewellery chain Lovisa, but I bought it thinking, "What would Salt 'N Pepa wear?"

Look at their mask-like makeup! Actually, revisiting my clumsy teenage makeup techniques was one of the loveliest things about that costume party. I took so many selfies! Here's a glamorous one: #nofilter #justmybathroomlighting

And here I am with the use of the flash, looking much more like my dorky teenage self:

Now, technically I was aiming for an early '90s hip-hop look, but d'you know who I actually looked more like? Collette! The completely incompetent but touchingly enthusiastic Aussie dance-pop princess of 'Ring My Bell' and 'All I Wanna Do Is Dance' fame.

The height of Collette's fame was the year I was in year 7, and I actually possessed a pair of shiny bike shorts in a terrifying neon pink that I actually used to wear out in public. I would also like to draw attention to Collette's shoes and socks versus mine:

You might be going, "Ho ho Mel, that was a costume party! You'd never wear that stuff on a normal day!" Well, my friend, you'd be wrong. Behold my outfit last Saturday:

I wish I could actually photograph my outfits normally rather than at these zany angles. But anyway. You can't see it in the photo, but I'm wearing a necklace of bright pink plastic beads, and my denim jacket is just peeping into frame. Both the beads and the jacket are from op-shops, but I got the stretch minidress and the leggings maybe two years ago from Cotton On.

I felt very cool in this outfit! About as cool as I would have felt wearing the same outfit in 1991. And when I went strutting down the street, I passed lots of much younger women who were wearing roughly similar outfits. I felt like saying to them, "This is my time, bitches! That's my adolescence you're wearing!"

As a postscript, recently I went away for the weekend with a group of friends and in the house where we were staying, we found a stack of old Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair magazines from the late '80s through to the late '90s. It was a lot of fun to read about some hot new bands from Seattle, and Brad Pitt's edgy new film Fight Club.

But one of the most eye-opening things was that I got my friend to read out the top 10 songs from an old magazine and I had them all in my iTunes. This isn't just because I've hung onto my old CDs (100% Hits – Volume 2; Yo!…Let's Go!Now Generation: The Best of the Indie Stuff). I've also actively sought out songs that I remember from my days sitting beside the radio during the chart countdown and taping all the songs I liked.

Nostalgia is an ongoing project for me, but only now is my interest in the past overlapping with my own personal past.

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