Balancing Fashion & Parents: A Memoir

Balancing Fashion & Parents: A Memoir [www.whatkumquat.com]

My earliest memory of making a fashion assertion came at age 9.

I was on my first overnight school trip and was rooming with three girls, all of whom had their ears pierced. I, being the product of a conservative American father and pragmatic Greek mother —who to this day does not understand why anyone over 170cm wears high heels—, did not. I wasn’t allowed to. Ear piercings were the gateway drug to eyeshadow and watching The Simpsons.

But… this girl in my grade named Anna had pierced ears. And since I am nothing if not debilitatingly stubborn, I was going to have earrings as well if it was the last thing I did. Rules be damned! I was a fashion force to be reckoned with at the tender age of 9 and my probably well-meaning parents just did not understand my creative vision.

So what did I do? Inventive fashion ICON that I am, I broke off the tips of two coloured pencils and glued them to my earlobes as spiky little symbols of resistance against the parental regime that I was sure stood in the way of my fourth grade fashionista image.

Yes, you read that right. I spent the last few years of elementary school circulating with lead tips stuck to my ears. I thought it was punk and cool. My mother thought I had gone off the deep end and probably thanked all the Greek gods that she had two other children who were still relatively normal.

This pattern of my being denied my sartorial dreams and therefore having to covertly find a way around the barriers continued well into high school.

When all the other girls my age were walking around in denim mini skirts and cool sequined tops from Benetton, I was relegated to an existence of turtlenecks and bootcut jeans (oh how the tables have turned).

When we moved to the U.S. and I discovered that everyone worshipped at the church of Abercrombie & Fitch, I begged my parents for anything bearing the telling status symbol of the Abercrombie moose. I was denied because a) it was inappropriate b) it was expensive and c) the store itself was a safety hazard as it was kept dark and overpowered with clashing perfumes, an ambience I found to be cool and modern but my parents thought was a headache-inducing deathtrap. I discovered that the more family-friendly Old Navy sold shirts featuring the logo of a reindeer (a beast in the same family as the elite moose!), which I bought in an effort to trick my peers.

Later, when jeggings became The Thing To Wear, I tried in vain to persuade my mom to get me a pair. She refused, telling me that jeggings would make me look like a καλικαντζαρο (which, by the way, means “goblin” in Greek; an extraordinarily bizarre comparison I casually brushed off at the time). In defiance, I would wrap the flared bit of my jean leg around my ankle, secure it with a rubber band, and tuck into a sock so as to create my own version of skinny jeans. I was Pinterest-hacking before Pinterest was even around.

For the record, I’m now aware how ridiculous it was to be so preoccupied with trying to convince an acne-ridden class of hormonal teenagers who thought Soulja Boy was art that I was trendy. But in the spirit of reflection, trying to maneuver fashion with stricter parents did teach me a couple of things.

Firstly, if needed I can be the kind of resourceful sneak who would probably do well on Man vs. Wild, just saying.

Secondly, in a weird way I inadvertently have my parents to thank for the lack of pictures from my awkward years showing me in the worst trends to grace our culture. I am now proud to say I never fell victim to the side bang epidemic of 2006 or the Juicy Couture tracksuit virus of the early-mid 2000s.

Thirdly/lastly, I think that my early styling habits of dressing like an Amish schoolboy have paid off in the long run, informing my current wardrobe choices in the best way. I now have an entire drawer dedicated solely to turtlenecks… and I didn’t even have to buy any of them! How pretentious is it to call myself an unintended trailblazer?

Very, but I’m going to do it anyways. I owe it to my 14 year old self who silently suffered in cardigans instead of midriff-baring tops. Your time has come, kid.

14 Comments

  1. I absolutely loved this post! It’s so great reading stories like this, and that part about the lead pencil earrings made me chuckle,. I fell victim to the side bangs trend, but my mom stopped me from wearing a lot of the “trendy” things too! I thank her for it now!

  2. This is so fun! I never liked bootcut jeans haha

  3. This was so fun to read!! I have so many pictures of me wearing the worst trends too HAHA!

  4. I want to commend you on your colored-pencil-tip earrings. What a brilliant child (& young lady, may I add). I come from a family of immigrants where my parents are both first generation American-born. Growing up, my grandparents would call me a muỊķis (mischief-maker) if I deviated from the education-centric dream they and my parents had for me. Good times.

  5. This is the funniest post. Similar to your ear story, I wanted bangs so badly but my mom said no so I decided to just cut them myself. That didn’t really work out well. Oops.

    http://thealwaysblog.com

  6. Even though your parent’s prevented you from donning all the trends, I think it would still have been nice to have some of those embarrassing pictures haha because when else can you be embarrassed by your fashion choices? 😉

    http://thesofieyahdiaries.com/travel/food-adventures-nyc

  7. This post made me chuckle. I totally rebelled against my parents wants and like Savannah, I cut my bangs on my own and that was disastrous.

  8. Haha, what cute memories! My parents didn’t really buy into trends or anything like that either. You were way more resourceful than me at any rate, haha.

  9. Such a fun story and post! Growing up I wasn’t able to wear a lot of trends because the money wasn’t there, but the ones I did I’m now regretting– all those happy faces, raver looks and what not- haha!

  10. I can’t believe you were so crafty at just 9 years old! I was always too afraid to get my ears pierced so the pressure never got to me on that one. You totally sound like a trailblazer and I love it!

  11. My parents gave me the perfect balance of trends and lovingly forceful “no’s” about too “out there” clothing choices.

    xoxo,
    Emma
    http://petitemaisonoffashion.blogspot.com/

  12. hahaha such an awesome post. gotta be thankful for the glow up!

  13. Haha you are lucky not to have any awkward photos! My mom keeps all mine and I can’t look at them without feeling horrible for myself!

  14. Omg girl that childhood pic — you were so fashionable at such a young age!! I absolutely loved this post. My parents were the same way. My mom cried when I dyed my hair pink. Made me smile 🙂

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