When I was a teenager the “in things” were Kickers school shoes, wide leg jeans with no back pockets, copious amounts of Vaseline and carrying your school bag on one shoulder, because two shoulders would be too good for your back and therefore, totally uncool. The only time we were on the internet was when your mum was certain she wasn’t expecting a call and you were allowed to take the phone line out to plug the internet cable in. You spent what little time you had after the dial up on MSN and had a count down, in the form of your dad in the next room, as to how long you had left.
We bought clothes from Tammy Girl, plucked our eyebrows to within an inch of their lives and rented videos from XtraVision.
We bought singles and played them on JVC hi-fi systems. We had to think twice before sending kisses and hugs at the end of a message just in case our intent was misconstrued. We wrote journals, handwrote revision notes and had to carefully edit our texts so we could say everything we needed to say in one message, or we’d be charged for two and have to top up sooner.
Make up? If you were lucky you owned an unflattering lippy, a clumpy mascara in a pink tube from Maybelline and a foundation that never once matched your skin tone.
Otherwise you stuck to clear gloss from Collection 2000 and slathered Rimmel’s concealer stick on your spots.
Of course, we looked up to certain celebrities and tried to copy their poker straight or crimped (or a mixture of both?!?) hairstyles that we saw in Smash Hits and wore jeans whose waistlines were dangerously low but we knew, deep down, that what they did was for show.
They were in the public eye and had an image to maintain. We knew that wasn’t the reality of day to day life and wouldn’t have been permitted to enter the school gates with crazy hair and make up as thick as the multiple pairs of slouchy socks we just had to wear, anyway.
We thought we were the bee’s knees and despite now knowing better (oh Lord, the pictorial evidence!!) it was a simpler time. In truth, it was a pretty good time and if I compare it to the pressure to conform today, I’d choose it all over again. Any day.
Now, I haven’t yet hit the big 3-0. It’s coming, some days it feels like it’s hurtling, but you would be excused if you were to assume the following are the musings of a 60 year old…
I look around and conclude that no part of my teenage years remains in today’s society. That makes me feel both sad and old, in equal measure. I know teenagers get a hard rap nowadays and the intent of this blog is not to add fuel to that already raging fire. Nor do I intend to tar everyone with the same brush. No. I simply hope to deliver a few home truths that, being double the age of some of these youngsters, I have observed and become concerned about. Perhaps one might stumble across this blog and realise their conformity is not, in fact, their choice, as they had once thought, but the result of constant bombardment from social media and other such outlets.
This old codger is more than aware that what is considered to be the ‘style’ changes with the tide. That’s fine, I get that. Of course, when I was a young teen there was a certain ‘look’ that was considered cool (flashback to the shiny Adidas trackies with poppers down the side and hideous, brightly coloured sports brand jumpers) but if there was the same pressure then as there is now to become clones of one another, I was totally oblivious to it.
I’m more into my clothing choices now than I was back then, but my attitude remains the same… I will NEVER buy any garment that doesn’t suit me or that I don’t love. I will NOT spend my moola on items just because they are popular at the time. Said Adidas atrocities never donned my pins because, even then, I knew they were hideous. That doesn’t seem to be the case nowadays.
Take a few months back, for example, when Russell and I were heading home from the Boucher Road. I could see, in the distance, a host of teenie boppers, all around 14 or 15 perhaps and I swear you couldn’t have told one from the other. Hairstyles, make up, clothing…all completely identical. The look centred around a plaid shirt, worn open so as to expose the tangoed mid rif peeking out from a glorified bra (which I’m informed was actually a crop top, I’m pretty sure I own bras that are bigger) black leggings (which must come with a caveat that you can see your under crackers through the arse of them) and trainers.
Don’t try to tell me it was a coincidence that they all just happened to turn up the same thing and then had a good laugh about it, after the initial feelings of embarrassment. Here was a group of 10-12 girls all dressed in the same fashion, and there’s a loosely applied term if ever there was one, because that was that day’s requirement to be socially accepted, either within that group or within teenage-hood (?) as a whole. It was very clear to me that these girls were sheep. Someone decided that this was the look and they all followed suit. If those girls took a good hard look at themselves in the mirror, how many do you think would have put that ensemble together themselves? How many could truthfully say that this was their personal style? My guess? Very few, if any.
How many would admit to wearing said pieces because of a YouTuber, a celebrity or whoever was most popular at school at the time? Such is the influence of pressure today. How sad it is to think that many young girls across the land can’t think for themselves anymore. How pathetic is it that the internet, and those who frequently appear on it, has more of a ruling on their choices than themselves? At what point did they deem it better to comply and blend in, than wear what suits them and what they genuinely feel comfortable in? Since when was it more important to get attention because you look the same as everyone else, than pick your own style and be known for that instead?
I just don’t get it. What am I missing here?
You may have gathered by now that I quite like make up and yes, I look to others to help me learn and stretch my limited skills to produce something I’m relatively happy to present to the outside world. My look will be determined by a variety of influencing factors: the occasion, the outfit, my skin, my level fatigue, my bothered-ness and degree of care. I don’t have a set look and I adapt as I get older, I think.
Then you have the Instagram make up that many of the aforementioned generation appear to favour. Here’s how their routine goes…
- Cake the face in full coverage foundation at all times and without fail.
- Highlight the crap out of the face by applying as much concealer, the paler the better, as foundation. This will include a triangle under the eyes that extends to the apple of the cheek, a patch on the chin, centre of the forehead and down the centre of the nose. This makes them look…wait for it…snatched!
- Then the trick to make all this stay in place is to use as much setting powder as possible to ‘bake’ the face. Copious amounts will be applied to the entire complexion and then extra on those areas you spent so long concealing. This will be dusted off after several minutes with a fluffy brush and quite possibly, another powder.
- The eyebrows are an integral part of this look. It doesn’t matter if you have blonde hair or pitch black, you must use a dark shade of powder, pencil, pomade or all three to fill in those brows. I say fill in, what you must really do is make your brows look thick and lucious by penciling them in well outside their natural shape and size. This is perfectly acceptable.
- Then it’s on to the eyes. Dramatic, colourful or smokey eyes are the ONLY way to go, even if you are slobbing around the house in your pyjamas. This look must come as close to the brow bone as possible and must extend to the lower lashline too. What if someone saw you with little or no shadow on? What if you didn’t have some glitter or MAC pigment in the centre of the lid? You’d be shamed. The eyes are not complete until a thick, black, super long flick has been sculpted and the biggest pair of lashes you can find have been applied. It doesn’t matter that they look fake, it’s just part of the overall effect.
- Now here’s the important part. Contouring the face with either a bronzer or a contour powder that’s too dark because you really need to chisel out those cheek bones, make your forehead and your nose narrower and get rid of the double chin you don’t actually have. For heaven’s sake, don’t use a natural tone to do this and don’t alter the routine so suit your face shape. People need to see it and to ensure they don’t miss it you must ‘bake’ with more powder under your cheek bone contour to make that line sharp and obvious.
- Then you apply an unflattering shade of blush and get to ‘Glowing to the gods’. Translation:use a highlighting powder to add shimmer to the tops of the cheek bones, the cupid’s bow and even the tip of the nose so it looks all cute.
- Lips. Well, to make it look like you’ve got fillers you need to over line. Translation: seriously exaggerate your pout by drawing outside your natural lip line but do it so it’s noticeable. Then fill those bad boys in with whatever liquid lip is popular, something with a grey undertone is typically favoured. Dont stop there though. Take a lighter shade of your chosen lippy and apply it to the centre to make the lips look even fuller. Now everyone will think these lucious pillows were God given.
- An hour and a quarter after starting, you must finish the look with lots of setting spray.
- Sit and take hundreds of selfies pulling pouty faces, doing the peace sign, looking all mean and moody or super sultry by opening your mouth, akin to a frog cathcing flies. The boys will love it.
- Spend the next hour replying to all the comments from school mates about how stunning you are with “Thanx babes” or kissy emojis, even to that blade you hate from Chemistry class, and then stress out if this pic didn’t get as many likes the last one.
I’m sorry but…really??? REALLY??? Yea sure, let’s basically choose our clothes like a uniform and make ourselves look indistinguishable from one another and then do our make up in exactly the same way to complete the look? What the actual flip?!?!
I’ve lost count of every Instagram feed I’ve seen that consists solely of selfies with full slap and a push up bra to make the bee stings look better. The sole aim is likes and comments and if the boys are commenting they’ve hit the jackpot! Self esteem is dependent on social media status and the number of friends or followers you have. Whether or not you know them is irrelevant, so long as they affirm your beauty. Sad, isn’t it?
Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that not every girl is like this. I’m not saying that they are doing anything wrong or harmful. Some of these girls have seriously professiosal skills in the make up department, even if it would require some fine tuning. My point is…what’s the fun in being a sheep?
I would love to know your thoughts on all of this. I can’t be the only one to have noticed!
Until next time,
- Blue eye-shadow is never a good idea.
- Who started the Instagram make up trend anyway?
- Don’t be a sheep.