It's back to school time, and according to everything I've read recently, the 1990s are making a comeback. And I'm psyched, because that means I get to do everything I did wrong in the 1990s all over again! This time, hopefully, correctly!
Since I was born in 1980, I came of age in the 1990s. Meaning: I got to live through all the trends in fashion while my arms, legs, breasts and ass were all growing at their own individual rates. Since I was an awkward teenager who was built like a twig with hips and growing out a perm from the part of the '90s that wouldn't let the '80s die, you can imagine how excellent things like stretch jeans -- now called "jeggings" -- looked on my gawky, unevenly developing frame. I'll save you the thought process and just tell you right now that it was not very nice-looking. And even if something worked, I didn't have nearly enough moxie to pull it off.
I'll lay it out for everyone: I was not popular. I'm not sure why, and it certainly doesn't matter now, but when you're in high school and you're insecure (and all you want to be is beautiful, famous and married to Jim Carrey), being popular, or just being considered cool, is your entire universe. I hate that it mattered. When I have children, I'm going to tell them it doesn't matter, that once they've graduated high school, no part of those past 12 years is going to be worth a tiny, tiny shit. A shit so little that it can accurately be called "a shittle." A "shitiny shittle." But my saying that, or anyone saying that, isn't worth a shitiny shittle in itself, because if you go to school everyday thinking you should be popular and you're not, it doesn't matter. Once you've been branded a freak by your peers, you're a freak. And even at 30, I wonder if I'm the same freak I was back then.
There are things I could stand to improve about myself, but for the most part, when it comes to my personality, like every mediocre/bad dish on Top Chef, it is what it is. Recently, I learned something so important from the founder of the Groundlings, Gary Austin. 1. I am an "excellent" improviser, and coming from the founder of the Groundlings, that means the world. And 2. We will never know how we are perceived by others. I certainly have no idea how I'm perceived by others. I still feel like the same awkward bird-like creature who dealt with boys barking at me and calling me Captain of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee. (Apparently, in order to be eligible for this esteemed position, your cup size must be smaller than a G. I thought my B would only qualify me for Treasurer, but yay! Captain!)
In the privacy of my own mind, I never used to think of myself as all that different. I was creative. I made my own jewelry and wore it in public. I drew weird cartoons and wrote stories about haunted houses and murder mysteries. I put on shows with my stuffed animals and filmed them. And I was always encouraged to be creative by the exact people whose encouragement you couldn't give a shittle about during adolescence -- parents and teachers. As I got a little older and started reading fashion magazines like Teen, YM and Seventeen, I started fancying myself some sort of fashionista. I loved fashion, and I still do. And the girls in these mags were my age. Why couldn't I pull this off? I remember cutting my perm off into a bob and replacing my bug-eye glasses with contacts, thinking it was going to make alllllll the difference in the world. It didn't. I remember thinking I was wearing the trendiest, coolest outfit to school, and I got the same reception Sam Weir did on Freaks and Geeks when he wore the European Night Suit to school. If you didn't see that episode, first, shame on you, Joel Fucking Hodgson was in it. Second, like many pictures taken of me between the ages of nine and 13, it was not pretty. God forbid anyone on the low end of the popularity food chain try something new and draw attention to themselves. I remember when wearing a long skirt to school in eighth grade seemed completely out of the realm of possibility. I bought the skirt. I hid the skirt while summoning the courage to wear it. Then someone else wore a long skirt, and she was groundbreaking. Would I have been groundbreaking? No. I would have been a freak. And if I wore it another day, I would have been the girl who tried to copy the groundbreaking girl. And failed.
In my 20s, I found new friends and new hobbies, and while I was still super insecure (as opposed to being super duper insecure, meaning now I am merely insecure), I started owning my freakness. I colored my hair every possible color, chopped it off, regrew it, got tattoos, got more tattoos, wore whatever I wanted and got positive responses. Some of this was "freak release," some of it was becoming the freak I was meant to be. "Freak metamorphosis." But despite all that change, in my head, I feel like I haven't changed. I remember being a teenager and feeling awkward, depressed, afraid to draw attention to myself, while at the same time wanting to be unleashed, hilarious and noticed. While I've achieved all three of the latter on some level, the former feelings are still there. And I somehow separated who I was then from who I am now. And I've been beating that girl up and making fun of her, acting just like the people who made me/her cower and hide. I don't want to do that anymore. The momplex I cannot deny makes that kind of behavior bring tears to my eyes. Because I am a girly, womanly, mommylady. And how dare I talk to Teenage Jamie like that? Would I want people talking to me like that? Well, they did talk to me like that! And how much did I like it?
I'm not sure if this first, second or third person I'm writing in now, but all I know is that I've been way too hard on myself and I'm ready to own it all and show you why I'm so happy to relive the '90s. Because this is what I looked like, and I'm okay with it now.
Hey look! Your mom is turning 12!
Do you dare me to make my own jewelry with tin globes and electrical wire again? Do you Double Dare me?
I have no idea how this one happened. But I wore this to school. With people around. Who saw it. With their eyes. The image was then forced from their retinas through their optic nerves where the image was processed through their precious, developing brains. Some went blind. And not because they were jerking off to the image of me in this outfit.
This kind of dress was huge, like physically, in 1993, and it was actually made by my great-grandmother.
Actual conversation between me and my mom. Me: I want to cut bangs, but I don't want to look 14. Mom: Why not?
Look at this. I was doing everything right! Why did people think I was such a loser? My socks are perfectly slouchy!
Baggy, body consuming denim was all the rage in 1995!
Oh my god, how did I not get asked out in ninth grade? This is so super slutty! (Over-the-knee socks, pleeeeeeease come back!
Pop quiz: Tiger Woods on top + French whore on bottom = a) Recent news headline b) The Jennifer Aniston who couldn't.
Can we all agree that baby tees and high-waisted baggy jeans should go the way of beepers?
I was finally allowed to wear jeans on the first day of school. I forgive the patent leather sneakers because the rest was vintage and awesome. Thank you, 1996.
And how you betrayed me, 1997. I guess I handed out the pamphlets for the asexual patchwork quilting club in between classes.
Wow, from the first day of senior year to the last, I quit pants. I would also like to mention that I got that haircut the day Phil Hartman was shot.
I own it. I make no apologies for these getups, except for the crotch one. I do apologize for that. In every way possible. And if you don't like it/accept my apology, then guess what? If Taylor Swift can be a Debbie Downer and sing about Kanye West a year later, I can put my nerdy past to rest now.
Follow Jamie Frevele on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jamielikesthis