Hoop Earrings, Jumpsuits, & Cornrows: The Case Study of a Pre-teen

Last night, I had quite the earth-shattering discussion with two of my roommates.  Somehow, we got on the topic of middle school – and the horrors of fashion that went along with it.  When you’re a 12 or 13 year old trying to navigate the paths of hormonal balance imbalance, being “cool,” and simultaneously trying to find clothing that fits your awkward and usually gawky frame, life just sucks.

I, for one, was easily the tallest person in the entire school.  I’m currently full grown at a fairly normal height of 5’8,” but during my years of aimless wandering, it would have been much more appropriate for my friends and family to call me Jack or the Jolly Green Giant.  This, unfortunately, made for a severe lack in the number of loving relationships I could have had during these formative years.  While my fellow classmates strolled the halls holding hands, or met at the roller rink on Friday night to slow skate together, or debated whether or not their parents should drive them to McDonald’s or Burger King for their big date night, I remained a single giraffe who was always there to lend a helping hand to someone who couldn’t reach the top shelf in their locker.  As a result, with all of my free time spent not tongue twisting with brace faces who had yet to discover the joys of deodorant, I focused on my killer street style.

You see, I happened to attend a middle school that is, how shall we say it, “ghetto.”  Remember that fabulous early 2000s movie “Save the Last Dance” that suburban kids from all around were both terrified and intrigued by?  Well, that was my school – just the pre-teen version of it.

I like to think of myself as the Julia Stiles character.  I frequently had my friends put my bright blonde, very caucasion hair into cornrows.  Which is a hairstyle that was created for an actual purpose.  It most certainly does not EVER need to be seen on a white girl.  But just for kicks, let’s review:


Notice how at the end of the “cornrow,” where an African American’s hair would lie flat or stay in whichever style was preferred, a caucasion woman’s hair does a little pigtail flip thing out to the sides.  At this point, I should have just accepted my fate and actually worn pigtails.



And here, we have the “what the fuck is that?” hairstyle.  It is neither cornrows (which are generally worn smaller and tighter to the skull) nor pigtails or french braids.  It more closely resembles Medusa.  Or perhaps, as the style at the time was to have “bangs” that hung on each side of your middle part, the hair was just getting in the way and braids seemed the best possible solution to allow for better vision.  Regardless, I also frequented this look.

In addition to having very blonde hair at the time, I also had fairly straight hair with just a touch of waves.  But, because it was cool and “sexy,” I would take a glop of hair gel every morning and attempt to achieve the “crunchy” curl look that all of the cool hispanic girls had.  Except that their hair actually looked curly.  Mine just ended up looking like I had forgotten to wash it.  If I was in the mood to wear my hair up, I would utilize my handy dandy bristle brush (again, NOT meant for a white person’s use) and after applying that same glop to my roots, would slick back my mane into a ponytail or a bun, which I would then secure as tightly as humanly possible with a hair tie.  On the bright side, I now know how to avoid ever purchasing a face lift procedure later in life.

Now, at the time, I was also not allowed to wear makeup.  My mother was probably trying to stretch out my innocence as long as she could, considering this was also around the time that I finally confronted her about whether or not Santa Clause was real.  But, I digress.

I would go to school every morning, sans makeup, then meet my friend in the basement level bathroom, where all the 6th graders congregated to argue about who had the coolest M.U.D.D purse.  She would lend me her white eyeliner, whereby I would stick to the ever-popular trend and apply a thick line to the tops of my eyelids.  No mascara, no blush, no eyeshadow.  Just that smear of bright white and often sparkly liner.


What the purpose of this was, I will never know.

In addition to my fabulous hair and makeup routines, jewelry was key to achieving my thug-life look.  I rarely, if ever, went a single day without wearing hoops.  Silver, gold – you name it.  The sizing ranged, of course, from big to hula hoop, so I always had my bases covered for any situation.

I generally paired these metallic gems with a velour matching jumpsuit in either baby blue or pink, and a pair of either Kswiss or Adidas kicks (with matching shoe strings).  Sometimes, I’d change it up and wear a baggy tshirt (of which I owned a total of two – that were both from my days in “Battle of the Books” in elementary school…reading is badass…if you have a problem with that, we can meet out by the dumpsters after class).  This would obviously be paired with either my tightest pair of hip hugger blue jean flares, or my prized pair of khaki flares with black strings that laced up the outsides of the legs all the way to my thighs.  Picture that.  I bet you’re getting all sorts of excited.

Needless to say, I was baller.  Who needs a boyfriend when you look that good?!?


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