Teen Age Girl's View on Boys' Clothing


by Whoever, age 14, from central Texas

Okay, I give up. I just don't get why guys dress like they do. I mean, do they think that we girls LIKE baggy, shapeless T-shirts over sagging jeans that puddle around their feet? Do they think it makes them look cool? Or are they just too lazy to do any real shopping? In my high school's cafeteria the other day, I took a good look at some of the stuff these slobs were wearing. I was floored by some of the weird combos they had on. Try this on for size (but not literally): an oversized pink T paired with saggin' blue, green, white, and gray shorts (plaid); white socks worn all the way up to the knees; and the most torn-up sneakers I've ever seen! Another guy had on your basic worn-out, knee-length, plaid shirt; and a pair of the usual kind of shorts -- but what was really bizarre, was that he had on a pair of bright red sneakers with white stripes! I am not kidding! I would have gotten pictures, but I don't have a way to get them over the Internet, and I sure don't want to keep `em. While I was looking at guys, I compared them to the girls. Now, I can see why guys spend so much time "scoping" girls. Almost every girl in my school ranges from "okay" to "WOW," while the general guy population ranges from "okay" to "not-even", with the occasional "decent" to "majorly fine" guy here and there. Of course, there are probably people reading this and going, "Ex-cuse me! Nobody can help what they look like!", but just chill for a minute. See, a lot of these ugly guys could raise themselves into at least the "okay" category if they would like, change their hair style, and while they're at it, dye it back to its natural color, or at least one that looks natural. In other words, something besides orange, blue, pink, and green. As for clothes, most of the girls were wearing really cool dresses that probably cost a fortune, or mini-Ts with fitted jeans, or at the very least, semi-loose t-shirts tucked into regular-fit jeans. A lot of the girls' clothes, I'd be willing to bet, were way expensive. Like, my last trip to the mall cost me (correction: my mom) about $200. But I know this guy who told me that he gets his shirts at this discount store where you can get three shirts for $5! Does this seem a little unfair to you? And I've only talked about clothes so far. What about the other things women have to do that guys got out of somewhere along the line? Stuff like...shaving legs and 'pits, putting on make-up, carefully treating and perming and styling what hair we aren't expected to shave off. I would just like to know when, where, and by whom these rules were decided, you know. I mean, what, did somebody just sit down and say, "Okay, here's how it's gonna be from now on: all women have to shave off leg and 'pit hair when it becomes easy to spot, any hair that isn't shaved has to be changed in some way from how it would be naturally... and hey! why don't they put goo on their faces too?" I'm not saying that women everywhere should unite against make-up and hair-care/removal. But I do want to make a point: if guys expect us to go out of our way to look beautiful (or should I say, "even more beautiful than we already are?") then I think they should at least try to do the same. -- Whoever

Going Shopping and Bonding

My son Jonathan was about 13 when I began to notice a decided shift in our relationship. Once there had been easy conversation about subjects like He-Man and soccer, as he built Lego skyscrapers in his room. Now, his door was always closed, allowing only strains of a rap song to seep out.

We would still talk. But our conversations tended toward the monosyllabic. "How was school?" I'd ask. "Fine," he'd say.

Any inquiry of a more detailed nature would be met with a withering glance. Once, he looked me in the eye and suggested that I get my own life. I despaired of ever communicating with him again. Then we went shopping together.

It was after Jonathan's birthday and I owed him a present. We made a date to go to this store in Noho that used to be called retrogrunge but now is so cutting-edge it evades all classification. In this cavernous emporium reminiscent of a crater on the moon, the clothes have a certain cachet. They look like they've been worn and thrown out.

As Jon opened the door, a blast of pulsing music, punctuated by yelps, hit us like a wail. Once through the metal detectors, Jon rushed past the counter crowded with nose rings and chain-link chokers and headed straight for a shelf beside a rat's nest of purposely peeked, peeling pipes.

He was looking for pants-very large pants, of the breadth that used to be associated with Big and Husky stores. To determine acceptability, Jon had devised a test. The pants were wide enough only if his head could fit through the bottom of one leg. The pants were wide enough only if his head could tit through the bottom of one leg.

Pulling out a pair of black jeans with enough material to cover a sofa, Jon headed for a dressing cubicle, reappearing with pants legs trailing like the train of a mournful wedding dress. Then he shuffled to the mirror, clutching the bunched-up waist "Cool" Jon said before turning to me with an inquiring eye. I wanted to yell, "They look like they've fallen off Hakeem Olajuwon." Instead, I murmured something about the bottoms needing a hem.

"No problem he said, "I'll staple them."

My eyes hardened into marbles. Was there something politically incorrect about a needle and thread? Maybe he should just forget about fibers altogether and wear a cardboard box to school. But I didn't say a word. Instead, I followed him up the escalator, repeating silently a silly mantra: "He is he and I am me and that is the way that it should be."

I watched snatches of an old movie playing in my head. It is 1957. My mother and I are on the escalator in Alexander's Department Store on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. I am dreaming of a navy topper like the one Jessica Morley has and a pleated skirt, that falls just above the knees. But my mother has other ideas. She says a princess-style dress with a Peter Pan collar would be smart. Or how about a pinafore with a sailor motif?

At 13, the last thing I want is to look like is a Chatty Cathy doll. But once off the moving staircase she heads for the "Just Arrived. New for Spring" section and emerges with a pair of toreador pants in puce and a jumper with ruffles on the skirt, something the cha-cha teacher at Arthur Murray would wear.

I am mortified, I pray no one in the next aisle has laid eyes on this display. "I hate it," I say my voice a low growl. In a wheedling tone, she implores me to "just try it on." In between the racks, we argue.

As we step off the moving staircase, the bass from the speakers located near the check-out counter bludgeons the Alexander's Muzak still floating in my head. The group that is singing seems to be having a nervous breakdown. Their distorted voices repeat the refrain "I'm close to the edge. I can hardly breathe." The beat is so insistent that the cashier's fingers vibrate as she removes the thick plastic band from the pants and stuffs them into a bag. Once back on the street, before clamping his headphones in place, my .son kisses me on the cheek and pronounces the experience Phat"

We agree to do it again sometime; then we head back to Brooklyn.
Carole Zimmer, April 3, 1998

Christopher Wagner


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Last updated: April 4, 1998