This is a post by one of our teen writers: Juliette is a 15 year old high school student in North Carolina. She is interested in pursuing a career in writing and in her free time enjoys volleyball, juggling, and photography.
In my opinion, one of the most entertaining parts of walking through a mall is watching the people who pass by. You get to see the new trends, what people are wearing, and may even run into a friend. However, on a recent scorching hot summer day, I was only watching people like I watch other cars on the road: how can I get where I’m going without bumping in to them?
During the summer, I had gotten accustomed to walking the forest trails near my house every morning and felt as though I could not justify a hearty lunch without my daily jaunt.
Because of the oven like heat, I decided to drive the 20 minutes to the largest mall in town and get my walk in there. So there I was speeding through the mall, darting between couples standing the awkward couple feet apart and nearly tripping over baby strollers.
As I rushed onto a down escalator which I had planned to rush down like a reversed StairMaster, I was forced to stop suddenly so I did not run into a group of four ten year old boys. Unlike myself, this quartet did not feel the need to walk down the escalator, and simply stood there for the ride. Staring idling at the back of their heads, I could not help but notice that they were sporting identical hair cuts. Beyond the actual cut of the hair, the hue hardly varied at all. The fairest being a blond and the darkest only a very pale brown. The color of their skin was also the same: a rather pale tone. I began to wonder whether they were perhaps brothers, or maybe quadruplets.
Two of them turned toward me to talk to their counterparts on the stair above them. Before I quickly averted my gaze (don’t you just hate it when you are caught staring at someone?), I realized that they were not twins at all. Despite this revelation, there was no way to describe in words how the faces were different. In fact, they were so similar that they probably would be considered brothers from more than ten feet away. As the escalator ride ended and I prepared to engage myself in my brisk walk once more, I watched the four boys exit to the left and head away from me. It was then that I realized that from their dark high top sneakers to their blond crew cuts, they were dressed nearly identically. Sure, one had a shirt that was blue and another’s was red, but beyond colors, which were still very similar, they were dressed exactly alike. They even seemed to be wearing the same brands of clothing.
As I continued my mall walk I began watching groups of all ages a little more closely. Preppy middle schoolers at 2-o’clock: all dressed in jeans or plaid shorts, shirts were mostly Abercrombie. Elderly couple at 9: same color schemes, maybe even same department store. While exploring the consistency of groups of people dressing the same, I began to notice even more frightening similarities. When a group of girls passed in the opposite direction who were probably around my age, I realized that besides similar outfits, haircuts, and hair colors, they were all about the same weight.
This was beyond just similar heights. They all had very similar builds and curves in the same places. I confess that I was beginning to become frightened. Just how large an effect to our friends have on us?
In high school, every student knows that cliques dress alike. Groups of teens shop together and probably plan their outfits off of what their other friends are wearing that month in order to ‘fit in’. But do we naturally gravitate towards those who dress like us? Or who we want to dress like?
I know that when I moved in the sixth grade into a large public middle school where I knew no one I sat down at lunch next to a couple of girls who dressed similarly to me and they were my best friends for about two years. I wonder if later in life we do the same thing. When adults go to office parties, do they naturally strike up conversations with people who were clothes similar to their own? Does a guy in a bar ask for the phone number of a girl who is dressed in correspondence to himself? But do they even notice what they are doing?
Or maybe we start dressing like the people we hang out with? We certainly start to talk a little bit like them after a while. When I moved from Maryland to North Carolina, I thought that every one around me had a horribly awful sounding southern accent, but now after five years I cannot hear it at all. This could explain why friends dress like their friends, but how could it explain similarities in weight? The boys on the escalator probably weighed within ten pounds of each other and many cliques at my high school have a definite body shape, but do our friends impact how much we eat? Maybe we naturally make friends with people who have similar eating habits to ourselves.
But that could surely not account for all the similarities. Probably if you see your friends eating things at lunch every day, you gradually begin craving the same things as well. By the same token, you may notice what they are wearing and the next week end buy a shirt just like theirs. And maybe the next weekend you start wearing you hair like they do. And gradually, week by week, you become a group of clones, walking through the mall on a hot summer morning.