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*GUEST SUBMISSION* Letter 64: Get Ready

22 Aug

Erin writes:

Dear me at 16,

The Author at 16

Ah, the Erin of 1996. I’m writing because this is the last year of life as you know it. I don’t say that to scare you. Most of the changes are for the better, actually. I hate to post spoilers (you’ll figure out what that means later, when the Internet is far more prevalent in your life), but you know how you always wanted a baby brother or sister? Well, get ready. I know that you feel like a mature adult at this age, but while you’re not as silly as a lot of kids in your class, you’ve still got a lot of growing up ahead of you, and it’s going to come at you fast and seemingly from out of nowhere. Never fear, though, because thirty year-old future Erin is here to help.

First of all, stop worrying about your figure. You’re gorgeous. Trust me, in a few years you’d kill to have abs and thighs like you do now. Right now, you hear the term “late bloomer” and want to throw something heavy and breakable across the room, but unfortunately, sweetie, that’s exactly what you are. You will have boobs one day, I promise. They’ll show up around your twenty-eighth birthday, along with hips and a few gray hairs. Until then, suck it up, buy a padded bra and enjoy that jack-rabbit metabolism God gave you.

In a few weeks, you’re going to start taking voice lessons. You had to work really hard to prove to Mom and Dad that this wasn’t just a fleeting whim (like ballet, baton, colorguard, I could go on…), and you’re going to have to maintain a good record of rehearsing to get to keep taking lessons. You don’t know it, but they’re sacrificing a lot for you to have this opportunity. Rest assured, though, that all the effort and dedication are going to be worth it. Singing isn’t just your latest phase; it’s what will come to define you as an adult, and will afford you experiences you can’t even dream of at this point in your life. In other words, stop rolling your eyes at Dad when he asks if you’ve practiced for a whole hour.

Speaking of parents, you don’t realize it now, but you have two of the most amazing people raising you. You take for granted the fact that Mom and Dad will always support you in whatever you choose to do, even if they don’t necessarily approve of it. They treat you like an adult, and the house (and fridge) is always open to your friends. You don’t have the slightest clue how uncommon that is, or how lucky you are. Maybe you could thank them on occasion? Frozen pizzas don’t grow on trees, you know.

Friday night, look around at the friends sitting beside you on the couch. Most of these kids will grow into the adults who will be there for you for the rest of your life. You’ll forget most of your classmates’ names, but that hippie-chick, cynical braniac, and the slightly neurotic fellow that brings his own snacks will stick around. Right now, the most you are concerned about is which movie to make fun of, but together, you’ll help each other through anything life can throw at you. The many miles between you make visits rare, but you’ll always pick up where you left off, and you’ll always have each others’ backs. Treasure these kids. The bond you share as a group is both unusual and completely wonderful. There’s also one girl not on the couch. Her house is a little too far away, but she’s been at every birthday party since you were four. Your parents actually had it down to the minute how long you could play together before a fight broke out. She will not only be your best friend, but your surrogate sister. The Robin to your Lily (you’ll totally get that when you’re older). Don’t take her for granted, either. She’s better than that.

Lastly, and I really hate to throw this in because it’s a downer and you’ll totally freak out: dance with your daddy. He always asks, and you always say no. You’re embarrassed. You’ll dance with him on your wedding day. Well, I hate to break it to you, but no, you won’t, and you’ll really want to. Do it now while you still can. Life is way too damn short for regret.

I do want to congratulate you, sweetheart. You have learned at sixteen what many adults I know haven’t figured out: your self worth. You’ve already noticed that there are a lot of small-minded people who, for whatever reason, won’t like you. You’ve also come to the realization that their dislike is not personal. There’s not a problem with you. There’s a problem with them. This is one of the single-most important lessons you can learn, and I am so proud of you for understanding this at an age where many kids would fall apart at the idea of someone disliking them. Life is full of rejection, especially with the career path you’re going to choose. Of course, the understanding doesn’t make the rejection any less painful, but it will make it easier to overcome. This realization will also make you a stronger, more determined person, because you will have to work doggedly for every accomplishment. Nothing will be handed to you, and you’ll be better for it. Love your family, cherish your friends, but above all, to thine own self be true.

Much love,
Me

P.S. Buffy, the television series. Watch it. The first episode is horrible and nothing like the movie, and you’ll want to turn it off, but it really does get a lot better.

Erin is a singer/actor/filmmaker living in Mobile, AL with her husband, Thomas, and two ill-tempered parakeets. This photo, taken during a friend’s “art photo” phase, was found in the bottom of her closet, beneath a very cute skeleton named Herbie. When she’s not performing, she runs a pop culture-beauty blog, www.adorablenapalm.blogspot.com

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Hindsight Fashion: The Eyebrow Ring

8 Jun

Throughout the decades, teenagers have attempted to prove their coolness by wearing questionable accessories, hairstyles and items of clothing. Hindsight Fashion is a section about those trends that, in Hindsight, we probably wish we hadn’t worn.

This week’s Hindsight Fashion is:  The Eyebrow Ring.

The Eyebrow Ring was a trend borne out of the Body Modification scene in the 1990’s, and was like the wimpier little brother of the Tongue and Nipple Piercing. The Eyebrow Ring was to the Nipple Ring what The Monkees were to The Beatles. It was like a low-risk, watered down, vanilla way to look like a badass. It wasn’t terribly painful to do and there was no long-term commitment since the piercing tended to heal over nicely once the wearer grew tired of the style.

At 16 years old, I convinced my parents to allow me to get my eyebrow pierced. I’m still not really sure how I managed to finagle that one, seeing as my Father was an Optometrist and subsequently did not think it wise to be sticking needles anywhere near one’s eyeballs.

I was so completely pumped about getting that piercing. I wanted it so badly. I felt at the time that it would be like a signal to everyone cool in the Universe that I was cool too. I thought it was a way for me to identify myself as Punk Rock to other Punk Rockers. I also just thought it looked badass. I dreamt about it for months in advance. Imagining how pretty it would look and how hip it would make me. I was in love. And so, my Mother begrudgingly accompanied me to the Tattoo Parlour and shelled out the $70 or so that was required. Nothing says badass like having Mommy present to hold your hand.

Me at 17 with my Eyebrow Ring in my left eyebrow

I had never wanted to wear the Ring jewelry permanently. My initial intention with the piercing was to switch the jewelry to a cute little jewelled Barbell style as soon as the piercing healed. The trouble with this plan was that my Eyebrow Piercing never healed properly. It was constantly getting infected. It was red. It was weepy. It had a bump beneath the bottom hole that would occasionally shrink but never completely disappear. Basically, it looked like ass.

But I, being the determined, tenacious go-getter that I am, did not give up on my little eyebrow mishap. I had fallen so deeply in love with the idea of the Eyebrow Piercing, and everything that it would mean for my social life, that I couldn’t bring myself to take the thing out. I would occasionally purchase a new ring and pretend to like it. And, although deep down inside I knew it wasn’t working, I wore my oozy Eyebrow Ring for the next 2 years.

Somewhere around 18 I realized that regardless of how cool an Eyebrow Ring might be in theory, it just wasn’t cool for me. I grew tired of the throbbing pain and the difficulties of applying eyeshadow around such a gnarly mess. The time had come to remove it. It was a sad day.

The interesting thing about my Eyebrow Piercing experience is that although it really didn’t work out for me at all, in looking back at photos (such as the one pictured above), I still have such good memories of that thing! Those two little puncture wounds represented a whole new world to me. And I still get that rush of hope and excitement when I look back on it.

I guess it really wasn’t all bad after all. But it sure was badass.

__________________

If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

Hindsight Fashion: White Jeans

1 Jun

Throughout the decades, teenagers have attempted to prove their coolness by wearing questionable accessories, hairstyles and items of clothing. Hindsight Fashion is a section about those trends that, in Hindsight, we probably wish we hadn’t worn.

This week’s Hindsight Fashion is: White Jeans.

This week’s HF pains me to write a little bit. This is largely due to the fact that I have a secret love affair with White Jeans. Really. I love them. Whenever I open the pages of a new spring issue of Vogue and see Gisele Bundchen or some other tall, thin, Brazilian beauty wearing a pair of white jeans, perhaps with a crisp blue dress shirt tucked in and a straw fedora, my heart skips a beat. I love that look. That clean, preppy, nautical, wealthy look. That “I just showered and threw these on” kind of look. Easy, breezy, carefree. And every time I’ve purchased a pair of White Jeans, I’ve been swindled by that myth. The, “White Jeans Are Easy” myth.

If only it were this easy to look so lovely in White Jeans!

My very first experience with white jeans was with a pair of white overalls that I wore in Grade 6. That’s right. White overalls. And I wore them with one strap hanging down. I thought they were pretty rockin’. That was until I was outside eating lunch and a lady bug landed on the thigh. I had done my best up to that point to avoid spills, stains and crumbs. I watched the ladybug as it crawled up my white denim leg. It was so pretty. Such a cute little bug. The warm, summer breeze was blowing in my hair and I was thinking about how wonderful it was to commune with nature in such an intimate way. And then the ladybug peed on my leg. I didn’t even know that ladybugs peed. But apparently, they do. And, no matter how hard I had tried to keep those overalls clean, they wound up stained with ladybug pee in the first 24 hours.

At 13, my Mother convinced me to try another foray into the world of white denim. This time it was a pair of white flared jeans with a little swervy pattern embroidered on the pocket. She convinced me that they looked so nice that I had to buy them and that I shouldn’t worry so much about getting them dirty. After all, White Jeans are supposed to be easy! So we bought them. I wore them to school the next day. And I spent the entire day filled with paranoia, closely examining every chair, every beverage and every passing insect for potential denim stains. I basically stood frozen all day, waiting for some YM Magazine worthy moment in which I would be lethally embarrassed and ridiculed by my peers. I never wore the jeans again.

Now, being the Mother of a (very) busy toddler, I spend my days crawling around in the dirt and dodging handfuls of flying sand. Any white items of clothing I own immediately wind up covered in a thin film of blueberry jam, yoghurt and goldfish crumbs. I have officially had to lay my White Jean dream to rest in favour of items with a longer shelf life. Sometimes I still find myself fantasizing of the day that I can throw on my white jeans and hit up the family yacht off the coast of southern France. But then I think of that sweet little ladybug and am reminded of the fact that the only easy way to wear White Jeans is not to wear them at all.

_________________

If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

Hindsight Fashion: Raver Bracelets

18 May

Throughout the decades, teenagers have attempted to prove their coolness by wearing questionable accessories, hairstyles and items of clothing. Hindsight Fashion is a section about those trends that, in Hindsight, we probably wish we hadn’t worn.

This week’s Hindsight Fashion is: Raver Bracelets.

Raver Bracelets were a trend borne out of the Rave Scene. The bracelets themselves were most often made from large, colourful, plastic pony beads available at craft supply stores. Wearers would often make these bracelets themselves. In order for a pony bead bracelet to be considered a Raver Bracelet, it had to be worn in combination with hundreds of other similar bracelets, spanning the wearer’s forearm nearly up to their elbow. A single pony bead bracelet is simply not a Raver Bracelet.

Back in the day, my best friend and I began an obsession with Raver Bracelets. We wore so many Raver Bracelets that we had reverse farmer tans on our arms. We probably would have worn the bracelets all the way up to our shoulders had that not significantly limited one’s range of motion. My teenaged bestie and I would sit for hours in my bedroom at my family’s Muskoka cottage, a gigantic bag of beads in front of us, making bracelet after bracelet for each other. We would invent contests: Who can make the best solid colour bracelet? Who can make the fastest bracelet? Who can make the ugliest bracelet? (That one was a personal favourite because then the recipient of the World’s Ugliest Bracelet would have to wear it for a determined amount of time. Or else.)

Though Raver Bracelets looked super hip, they did have their drawbacks. They were very heavy. I often felt as though I was building my arm muscles simply by wearing all those bracelets every day. They were very bulky. This made it difficult to wear any long sleeve shirt that was tight in the forearm. They garnered the same stupid comments Every Single Day (“Hey. You sure do wear a lot of bracelets.” Duh.). They were very hot in the summer time because the beads covered so much surface area that the skin on your arms couldn’t breathe. This also meant that the bracelets took on a distinct smell by the end of the summer, similar to that of the Twine Necklace.

For all these reasons (and maybe a couple more) there came a time when I decided to retire my Raver Bracelets for good. I remember the day vividly, painstakingly chopping off each one, reliving with it each memory from whence it came. I was probably about 15, but I remember feeling painfully aware of the fact that the removal of my bracelets was a (albeit small) step toward maturity and adulthood and not really feeling ready yet to make that leap. But away I snipped.

There were days where I wish that I could strap them all back on again just to remember all the fun and friendship that came with my Raver Bracelets. But then I remember that special brand of stink and decide to settle for the photos instead.

______________

If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

Hindsight Fashion: Coloured Mascara

11 May

Throughout the decades, teenagers have attempted to prove their coolness by wearing questionable accessories, hairstyles and items of clothing. Hindsight Fashion is a section about those trends that, in Hindsight, we probably wish we hadn’t worn.

The idea for this week’s Hindsight Fashion comes to us from HL Reader and Blogger, Amber. This week, we’re talking about Coloured Mascara.

Coloured Mascara was a trend that surfaced in the 1990’s and continues to rear its ugly head every now and then in the world of cosmetics. Promising to “enhance” your own eye colour, most coloured mascaras come with recommendations as to what colour mascara goes with what iris colour. I believe purple is supposed to enhance green and brown while green is supposed to enhance blue. Or something like that anyway.

You see, the problem with this promise is that it’s simply not true. Wearing coloured mascara does not enhance the colour of your eyes. It just makes you look like a drag queen. Sorry.

There was a time in high school where I was a fan of matching my eye makeup to my outfits. I had mascaras and eye shadows in every shade of the rainbow. I would often mix shades, wearing one colour mascara, one colour shadow in the crease and another below my brow bone. It was intense. What I learned from this experience is that, more often than not, the colours that look best, and truly do enhance your features, are those that are the most subtle and neutral. There’s nothing wrong with the classic black liner/mascara combo. There’s a reason everyone from Jackie O. to Gwen Stefani have used it as their signature.

Cosmetic companies continue to produce Coloured Mascara and the product continues to sell. I wouldn’t say that this trend has ever really disappeared; new customers continue to purchase in the hopes of enhancing their existing beauty. It’s just that anyone who actually tries this trend tends to realize just how mythical its powers are and decides never to use it again.

And so, it’s probably safe to say that nearly every woman’s cosmetic bag contains the remains of a Coloured Mascara attempt, though perhaps buried in the bottom amidst broken bobby pins and errant eyeliner shavings. And although every now and then we might feel the sudden urge to bust out an old tube and give it another shot, we all ultimately know that this is one trend that’s probably best left exactly where it is.

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If you have a suggestion for Hindsight Fashion, drop me a line at kyra@thehindsightletters.com!

If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

Hindsight Idols: Early Gwen Stefani

4 May

Every style has an originator. A special someone who wears a look in such a way that everyone else wants to as well. Throughout the decades, teenagers have had their idols, and in many cases, tried their darndest to look just like them. Hindsight Idols is a section about the celebrities, characters and personas that we’ve wanted so badly to emulate.

This week’s Hindsight Idol is Gwen Stefani. We’re not talking about just any era of Gwen Stefani. We’re talking about Gwen circa Tragic Kingdom and earlier. Mid-nineties Gwen. Red lips, platinum blonde hair, baggy pants, exposed midriff, Indian Punk Rocker Gwen.

I can very clearly remember the first time I heard a No Doubt song on the radio. The song was “Just A Girl” and it was playing on the pop radio station that came all the way from snazzy Buffalo, New York. I was sitting on the floor of my teenaged bedroom, books sprawled out, doing my homework, when the first guitar chords broke through my train of thought. From the moment I heard Gwen’s voice, I knew I wanted to be just like her. Though I hadn’t ever seen this girl, I knew that she was probably the coolest person to have ever lived. And, when I watched the video on Much Music a few weeks later, I wasn’t disappointed.

There was something about that Early Gwen that was so revolutionary. She was the perfect blend between tough and feminine. She had that touch of 50’s pinup paired with the masculine punk rock accents that I tried so hard to imitate all through my teenaged years. And, of course, she could ROCK.

There was a period during my adolescence where my go-to outfit was absolutely an unabashed, blatant Gwen ripoff. I had found a pair of red plaid pants, slim and slightly flared, at the Salvation Army. I paired them with a pair of suspenders (though worn, of course, hanging down around my bum) and a cut-off white “wifebeater” tank top, exposing my brand new bellybutton ring. I wore lots of red lipstick and thick black liquid liner. I always wanted to wear a traditional Indian Bindi, just like Gwen, but I figured at the time that this would be too much of a giveaway of my fashion inspiration (as if there was any doubt?).

Gwen Stefani was the first female to sport a nouveau punk rock style in 90’s mainstream music. And, while I was being tormented for my punk rock outfits at a very conservative high school, Gwen Stefani’s presence in the music industry was like a quiet reminder that I wasn’t the only one.

So, Gwen Stefani, The Hindsight Letters would like to salute you. Your bare belly, tough girl, pinup flare inspired us to paint our lips red and sing our little hearts out. Though I might have tried to disguise it in the past, I am hereby officially declaring my adoration. I’m exposed. But I guess that’s no big surprise.

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If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!

Hindsight Fashion: Frankenstein Boots

28 Apr

Throughout the decades, teenagers have attempted to prove their coolness by wearing questionable accessories, hairstyles and items of clothing. Hindsight Fashion is a section about those trends that, in Hindsight, we probably wish we hadn’t worn.

This week’s Hindsight Fashion is:  Frankenstein Boots.

Frankenstein Boots (any black leather boot that is extremely clunky, generally with a very tall platform sole and buckles or laces) were a trend that surfaced in the 1990s and originated in the Goth Scene. Most often, the boots were paired with a short skirt and fish net stockings, although the style was also often seen with wide leg pants worn over the boots.

Frankenstein Boots were worn for a couple of reasons: 1) They identified the wearer as belonging to a subculture, namely punk rock or goth. 2) They made the wearer significantly taller, since the platform soles were so high. The boots were worn most often by women, but they did have some male proponents as well. I remember in my high school one gentleman who smoked odd smelling clove cigarettes whom the general populace deemed “most likely to flip out and harm fellow students in a large-scale effort”.

Frankenstein Boots were extremely heavy. Walking in them was like dragging blocks of cement from your ankles. Any lengthy travel was immediately ruled out unless the wearer wanted to incur premature arthritis. For this reason, they were extremely impractical. It makes sense then, that I, lover of all fashion impracticality, would have worn the boots for several years in a row, including during a stint at Christian Sports Summer Camp in the wilds of Muskoka (pictured above) (That’s right. I wore that outfit at Christian Summer Camp).

At some point at the end of the 90’s, our legs got tired of dragging these hunks of leather around and the trend moved toward a slimmer, more flattering boot heel. Though the current styles may not be as badass as the original, my ankles are pretty pleased with the relief.

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If you liked this post, you’ll surely love this one and this one!