As an alarming number of my contemporaries start to do crazy grown up shit like buy washing machines, birth babies and think about turning 30, they start to get a little nostalgic. The general consensus is that we were the last generation who’s hideous tween ideas and insane obsessions were allowed to die quietly in the corner once we came of age and became the fabulous people we (mostly) are today. For this we are truly thankful.
As we watch photos of spotty faced 13 years olds with online profiles claiming themselves to be glamour models and sex machines argue illiterately over “Justin Bieber Vs Harry Styles who looks better in green – lime green not forest green because otherwise that’s too easy” we realise just how close we came. The internet was only just beginning to peek into our social pastimes, so while we didn’t have entire Twitter feeds to document our hormonal post-pubescent insanity for future generations, we did manage to get a taste of how dangerous this electronic beast could be in the hands of teenage girls. For example, a friend of mine once thought it was a brilliant idea to create a combined Westlife and Hardy Boyz website. I don’t think she got much traffic. Funnily enough, she’s very cool today. Much cooler than you. And she can maintain this aura of cool simply because she doesn’t have the world poking through her confused 13 year old world of weird boy crushes.
So today, I thought I would explore the errors and foibles of my youth, as a show of solidarity with today’s tween nutters and to calm the senses of those who despair for today’s youth. It can all turn out ok, you can lick a boyband poster at 12 and still grow up to be a normal functioning member of society. Possibly. So here’s the stuff that shaped my tweens and teens:
This was all the rage when I was 11. Of course, we didn’t actually have any expertise at putting on regular makeup, so this was bound to end in tears. To this day I still have a fondness for a good shimmer lotion, and it’s down to this grounding in wearable sparkles. However, this wasn’t a subtle shimmer, more of a slathering of large chunks of reflective metal smeared all over your face, chest and arms, clumping up nicely where you hadn’t smoothed it properly. The key was to choose the blue glitters over the pinks. This may seem counter intuitive, but the blue glitters will look like you have glitter on your face. The pinks will blend in too much and make it look like you have radioactive disco acne. Body Glitter is due to make a comeback any moment now, so take heed little ones.
Hotmail, MSN and ICQ
Hotmail was our first big leap into freedom from our parents, and our first big learning adventure in the virtual world of the internet. Everyone needed an email address, and Hotmail was the account of choice. It was here that you could choose a wonderfully inventive email name that truly reflected your personality. Like sunshine_princess. Or hanna_babe_87. Or sexyslut69. Stuff that really meant something to you. Of course, that didn’t mean it necessarily meant the same thing to everyone else. After listening to an awful lot of Limp Bizkit one day I decided to make my user name Starfish. Big mistake. It pretty much entitled me to a virtual crash course in anal sex and a complete loss of any remaining innocence. Scarred. For. Life.
Your Hotmail inbox mostly consisted of chain letters threatening you with death, destruction and that ‘slut’ in home economics stealing your crush from you if you didn’t immediately forward it on to 8 other people. You’ve only got 30 seconds to do this, remember. No worries, you have at least 50 on your emailing list, and that’s just people you like. May as well forward it to all of them, because that’s more luck for you, right? And you’ll need it because rumour has it that home ec bitch is stuffing her bra. You also received various quizzes and questionnaires to fill out and forward back to your friends. This is scary as I know at least 2 people who used to print these out and glue them into a book. I should really send these people cupcakes more often. While all this was taking place you were chatting to all the people you were emailing via ICQ or MSN. Cue more hilarious usernames! Yay!
All this internet talk leads us to the ridiculous prices we were subjected to for an hour on the web. If you were lucky enough to have modern, techie parents they would probably shell out for a second phone line and an unlimited dial up plan. I wasn’t lucky. I had to pay $2.50 to my father each time I needed an hour long hit. I financed my growing addiction by skimming off the top of my lunch money, given to me by my mother. My mother soon noticed this chain of events where her money went straight through me and into my father’s pocket, and it put much strain on the delicate economic climate that had prevailed in the house thus far. Tough times.
Throughout our childhoods, we had been obsessed with Duraseal. This is basically big sheets of sticker material that you put on the covers of school exercise books to protect them. From what, no one ever actually explained. But it was a big thing at the start of each school year to see what new designs had been brought out. Stars and moons, bright holographic colours, Warner Bros cartoon characters, you name it, they put it on our school books. Except, when you reached about 12 this automatically became ‘lame’. So what did you do? You got the clear Duraseal and created your own designs, using pictures cut out from TV Hits magazine. Unfortunately, the stuff you liked at the start of the year was incredibly uncool by term 2. It was almost suicidal to be seen with by the end of the year, so your school books went through constant upgrades using twink pens and vivids. To show how uncool you knew the photos on your books were, you were always drawing big white Santa beards on Kate Winslet, tits on all of the Backstreet Boys and strange tattoo designs covered the Spice Girls. This wasn’t just me. This was how society functioned.
We lived in a quiet town with not much going on. There was no promise of anything relatively interesting ever happening in the future either. If you wanted to see your favourite band in concert you had to wait to see if they even deigned to come to NZ in the first place, and if they did they probably only came to Auckland which would be a hugely expensive ordeal. So, we didn’t get to see a lot of bands and popstars live. Instead, we played The Sims. We created Sims in our own names, our friends names and our frenemies names. Then we created yet more Sims in the names of all our celebrity crushes and forced them to fall in love with our Sims. The dud member of whatever boyband was hot at the time (there’s always one) would fall in love with the frenemy and we would rejoice in the schadenfreude of our own making. We were sad, bored little bitches.
Eventually my friends and I entered a world of boy crazy nuttery. It was slim pickings from our own year group, so we created our kind of ideal guy and kept an eye out from him. This guy always had dreadlocks and a skate board. A surf board in summer. So, whenever we saw a dude who fit the basic description we would follow him. We thought this was wise, as we’d be able to track his movements and show up at his hang outs looking cool. Turns out, this was creepy as fuck.
The Babysitters Club
As children, a lot of little girls loved The Babysitters Club books. As tweens, it was a mark of how adult we’d gotten that we were able to bitch about them for hours and look down on what they were wearing. Yes. We looked down on fictional characters from books written in the 90s for what they were wearing. What were we wearing? Gstrings with cartoon turtles on the front pulled up above the waistbands of shiny jeans that used a lot of sparkle thread and shirts that had big glittery words like “Superstar” in script font running over our boobs. Hot. If you want to know more about the insanity that the Babysitters Club wore, this is your blog.
We were music aficionados. While we pined after boybands like Westlife for their looks (WTF) we knew that being fans of hardcore bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn gave us musical credibility. But don’t get me wrong, we all still kept up with what Britney was doing – by religiously watching the Top 20 countdown of the NZ music charts via medium of music videos on television every weekend. Again, mostly just to bitch. We were quite the miserable tarts. Sometimes inbetween the chart topping hits they’d play videos of songs that were up and coming, kind of a first peek at what you’d be singing in the coming months. I remember rolling around in agony whenever the “NZ on Air” logo came up on screen as it meant some Kiwi band you’d never heard of was going to play some slow moving song with a video that looked like it had been filmed by a TV news crew on the fly. I don’t know why it bothered me so much, as I was always on the phone to a friend throughout the entire show anyway. Because misery loves company.
Sigh. And that’s why I’m the way I am