In the course of my holiday shopping, I’ve been immersed in popular culture that heretofore I’d managed to escape. I’ve only just heard that song ‘Wrecking Ball’, I’ve become aware of this inexplicable trend of wearing shapeless, sequined garments, and, worst of all, I have noticed an unsettling penchant for women, regardless of age, to imitate each other.
Only a few days ago I was at H&M and after endlessly handling polyester blend tops and synthetic blend sweaters, I peered about me at my fellow shoppers. I felt like I was waking from a deep sleep, except what I saw was almost too strange to be reality. Women, ranging from ages 16 to 55 were shopping in the same store, trying on the same clothes, sporting the same hairstyles, doing their makeup in the same way, with the same funky manicures, and vapidly texting on their white iPhones with the same cute little cases. Don’t think even for a second that I think once you hit 40 you just give up and wear mom jeans and a low-maintenance haircut, but a 16 year old and a woman considering her retirement package should not be wearing the same skinny jeans and knee high boots.
Where are the Diane Keatons and Meryl Streeps? What happened to women having the confidence and gravitas to age gracefully? You can still put in effort and look nice at age 50; there is no rule that says you must drape yourself in shapeless bags from Talbot’s, but squeezing into a fringed belly top from Forever 21 isn’t the formula for looking good either. When a mother can outfit-swap with her teen daughter, it’s a little weird.
As for this horde of women on their matching iPhones, I don’t really know what to think. I’ve fallen in the trap as well– I’m writing this on my iPhone as we speak. But there’s something really sad about seeing mothers and grandmothers ignoring the world as successfully as their tweeting teens. I think it’s great they’re embracing and learning about current technology, but I suppose a small part of me had hoped the sullen, texting teenagers and twenty-somethings would grow out of the self-involved, isolated world of Facebook and Instagram. Those are fun distractions, but we need a group of people to pull us back into the real world now and again, and those people used to be our parents. I can’t tell you how many times my dad yelled at me for texting during dinner, but now he’s the same guy who orders things off Amazon expressly so he can avoid speaking to any shop clerks. Why do we, as a race, seem to equally crave each other’s approval and hate one another? We are so self-contradictory.
Perhaps I’m underestimating the human ability to self-govern, but what I’ve seen of human behavior leads me to believe we are a culture of feast or feminine, and right now we are feasting on the technocentered world of the young adult. I just don’t trust us as a people to pull out of this trend. This is uncharted territory; our grandparents and their grandparents and even theirs lived in a world where if you wanted something, you had to ask a human for it.
But perhaps I’m being a little judgmental. I’m sure with the invention of the television and the telephone and the airplane people said the same thing. All we can do is pray for a world that doesn’t deeply resemble Wall-e’s. Because who wants that?!
The Awkward Duckling