"You are a bright spot in my year. I really enjoyed your humor--your writing. Best of Luck, Mr. G."
(Signature in my ninth grade yearbook from favorite English Teacher).
"Think about it: How often do we police girls’ bodies? Recent talk of school dress codes reveals that it happens
an awful lot, and for some confused reasons."
-Marinda Valenti, for Ms. Magazine
As we prepare to join a new school community, and as my younger child enters her tween years, I have noticed a groundswell of both restrictive measures in school communities to shape what children wear and an articulate response to this form of clothing policing. I'm an enthusiastic supporter of the girls and young women who are learning, creating dialogue, and fighting these codes that disproportionately affect girls and women. Myself, and local friends, get into a pretty quick and excited debate and I can stir things up at just about any cocktail party or barbecue. One of the delicious benefits of any major discussion is often that we get to mine our ideas and minds and creativity for all sorts of items.
In my case, a trip down memory lane seems just about right. Let's face it, a lot of styles today will send most of us older folks into a bit of a tizzy. Boys seem to be dressed in just about anything, as long as it's not fitted, usually a drab color and, well, boring. Girls, on the other hand, seem to be wearing less and less of whatever it is that they have on (myself included). One of the arguments about dress coding is that certain people, almost whatever they wear, will look (and probably feel) sexier, no matter what they wear. When I think back to my own Junior High days I can remember who looked *hot*. But really, what were we wearing, ca. 1981? And so, I did that thing, I went and grabbed three Junior High yearbooks from my basement.
1. I was lucky. Lucky to grow up in a progressive corner of a liberal college town. Teachers were interesting and quirky. We played on enormous fields and were allowed a variety in the courses we took. We were honored with the privilege of selecting our own classes, building our own community, suffering when we made fools of ourselves, enjoying the successes we found. Our teachers, as far as I could tell, could act like real, caring, flawed people.
2. Okay, clothes for girls are so different after thirty five years. Painter pants? Levi 501s? Calvin Kleins? Not only did we look different in the cut and style, but these bottom half clothes for girls were 100% cotton. We could only wear our pants so tight. There were no yoga pants, there were no leggings. In the left shot, the only nylon is in the sweat jacket, and, as cute as those things were (and coveted) they weight about five pounds more than the average technical fabric jacket that you'd find on anybody's back today.
4. By today's standards, everyone looks entirely covered up, but they also look like they just walked out of an episode of Freaks and Geeks…that, and they look completely stoned. Not true, obviously, but it must have something to do with feathered hair and velour shirts.
"Butte to Butte" T-shirts. Haven't worn either for years, but I brought them out of storage for this occasion, and may even place them back in the rotation. The Butte To Butte, to the uninitiated, is one of the classic footraces held every Fourth of July in Eugene. It used to start not far from my home and finish near Autzen Stadium. Beautiful course, always fun, always competitive. These shirts not only remind me of bygone days as a teen wearing any sort of shirt, but they also remind me of the race T-s that are ancient history. Read it and weep:
|A. MADE IN USA|
B. 50% cotton/50%poly
C. TWO sponsor ads, only (Williams Bakery & KUGN Radio).
(I'm completely over the modern *tech* race shirt that's so littered with giant company adverts and ugly design)
|I digress, I just love old stuff, I love whimsy, I love other people who put it out there. Nothing but love.|
|Appropriate? Sure. Dated? Yes. Times moving on? We have no choice.|