Hannah is a sixteen year old from New Jersey. She loves to compete with color guard and marching band, and play piano. She hopes to become a writer one day, and to inspire others to follow their dreams.
This infamous line from the movie Mean Girls is only one of many that focus on the appearances and outfits of the teenage characters. If one girl forgot to wear pink, she would be eating lunch alone.
Watching this scene, the emphasis that is placed on clothing seems unrealistic and absurd. However, even in normal schools, clothing seemingly defines and labels tweens and teens. Especially starting in middle schools, pre-teen girls and boys spend their days scrutinizing the outfits of others, and labeling them. This is particularly common during the years when children experiment with different appearances in hopes of finding themselves.
At my school, and many others, teens judge their peers’ affluence and ability or desire to purchase “designer” brand names. When I bought my first shirt from Aeropostale, I found myself desiring more clothing that plastered name brands all over the apparel. To my peers and me, wearing designer brands was a symbol of social status, and it allowed us to be labeled as “popular,” “stylish,” or “fashion-forward.”
However, to keep up with the latest clothing trends can prove to be expensive and, especially during pre-teen growth spurts, nearly impossible. It will, for parents, seem practical to shop at department stores, but, for children, chances are it will represent the end of their social world. For me, my obsession with name brand clothing was short lived, but at the time, I felt that it was important for me to dress in such a way in which I could appear popular. My parents bought me my favorite name brand shirts on holidays and my birthday, and I proudly wore them to school each day.
Teens may grow out of the phase of name brands as high school arrives. With students commonly sporting school sport team logos and apparel, designer outfits automatically become less important. Furthermore, as they mature and begin to understand the value of money, teens begin to seek out sales, or shop at cheaper stores such as Marshalls or even Plato’s Closet. The pressure that I faced during middle school passed as I entered high school. Wearing marching band sweatshirts, my apparel still labels me, but I have matured enough to be proud of that label. The importance of identity is still important in high school, but it may be less expensive too.
Clothing related pressure is difficult to understand, and at the time, will seem like a huge issue for tweens and teens. However, the stresses that accompany style will pass, and teens will find themselves over time. So, tweens may go through stages where they wear pink every Wednesday, or perhaps insist on wearing Hollister jeans every day. It’s not weird, and they will find themselves. It will just take some time, and a little bit of growing up.
Photo Credit: Thing Three from Flickr