September 7, 2008

Fitting In

For a few prideful days in sixth grade, I thought I was pretty cool. I was not the prettiest girl in my sixth grade class, nor the most athletic or funniest. I was a pretty standard wall flower. Generally I could be found in a small cluster of giggling girls but was never the one to stand out. But for a few days back in 1992, I did.

I remember feeling a lot of pressure in sixth grade. It was the year my classmates and I were finally the big dogs in elementary school. Jungle gyms held no excitement for us. I think we collectively spent the entire year trying to act cooler and more mature so our transition to junior high wouldn't be so jarring. Sixth grade I also felt was the beginning of the clothing wars. It seemed this was the grade where us girls really started paying attention to what one another wore and heaped on the criticisms or compliments accordingly. This sadly also was the era of clothing where B.U.M sweatshirts, Used jeans and Guess anything prevailed. When future generations look back to the early nineties, it will not be known for it's fashion-forward thinking.

On one fateful trip in 1992 to the local mall with my mom I spotted an item of clothing I simply could not live without - a black and white leather jacket with a red satin inside. I saw it and instantly knew it would be a hit at school. No one had one. No one had anything like it. I suspected with this coat for that first day I wore it I might be the coolest girl in sixth grade. I had to have it. My mom took a mental note and within a few weeks (I believe for Christmas or my birthday) I got the coat.
I was bursting with extreme pride that first day I wore it. I distinctly remember at recess being surround by the girls of my grade, them questioning me about my new coat. I was the coolest girl that day and my new-found popularity lasted for another week or so. It turned out my cool, new coat produced one effect I had not anticipated. It was so cool that in a short matter of time two other girls in my class got my exact same coat. It was over. My popularity had ended. I had started a trend, but now I wasn't unique and with no distinguishing feature I was left to choose from my closet full of B.U.M sweatshirts and Guess jeans just to remain an active participant in the sixth grade clothing wars.

This past weekend I went home to Michigan and learned my mom has saved this jacket. I also learned that it still fits. Fits is a relative phrase. It was tight at the waist with enough room in the bust to hold my 14 lb. cat. It must have fit my 13-year-old body horrendously. I can't remember, or maybe I've blocked out the memory. In cloaking myself in this memory, I also learned I could not be more happy that I am no longer a sixth grade girl who believes an ugly leather coat will help her gain friends.

Also pictured is my sister and her equally ugly childhood coat. Hers was preserved as well. However, these coats may already be in the trash. I saw my dad's eyes light up the moment we gave the go ahead to get rid of our jackets. I can't say I blame him.

1 comment:

kelsalynn said...

Last Christmas, my dad found a video of us girls when we were little and of course he played it for everyone. I was wearing my FAVORITE outfit- a cobalt blue and hot pink LEOTARD with tights! Oh yes, that's right... it was so hot. At the time, I remember feeling like a gymnast in it which is why I liked it. So, hey, even if the confidence was misplaced and temporary, it was worth it!