Self-deprecation: the act of belittling, undervaluing, or disparaging oneself, or being excessively modest. It can be used in humor and tension release.
That very definition pretty much sums up my personality as a whole. I have learned that finding the ability to laugh at ones self is quite possibly the most freeing power to possess as an adult. In a study of Self-deprecation I give you “Exhibit A.”: my elementary school experience.
The Saga of Bad, Bad Bangs
3rd Grade: The Age of Innocence
At the start of my 3rd Grade Year I was fresh off the boat (or 5 day long car ride) back from my parents 2 year stint in Mexico as missionaries. Naturally, I was under a great deal of culture shock; not so much because of the culture, but rather because of my lack of proper American 90’s fashion appreciation. You see, I had just spent 2 years in a rural valley town in a remote region known for Tequila production. I had two forms of second hand cultural engagement: Spanish Tele-novas and TV Land. Somehow these genre’s collided to create a very perplexed Brady Bunch obsessed Spanish speaking gringo; much like the retired couples we often visited in the mountain arts district of rural Jalisco. This period of 90’s cultural detachment produced a sun bleached young Jane Fonda doppelgänger of a 3rd grader. Once we returned to the states, I distinctly remember shopping the midnight sale at Bacon’s with my mother where I enthusiastically paired this velvet flower power top with some kick butt lavender bell bottoms. Did I mention I was also wearing jelly platform sandals and socks. If only you could see the lower half of my ensemble. I’m pretty sure this look would make even the most outlandish Asian street bloggers proud.
4th Grade: The Age of Unrequited Love
It is both sad and frightfully funny to recount my 4th Grade experience. I shared so many similarities with the infamous Helga Patake. A terrible blunt bang cut (probably produced by either my mother or grandmother), an affinity for pastel ensembles, an ever impressive statement brow, and the immeasurable love for one (or sometimes several) unknowing male recipients. If only I had known that this would be the year that one of the most popular boys would ashamedly recount his love for me across the lunch room. If only I had known that this was not a cruel prank but rather a true life ‘She’s All That’ elementary school scandal. If only I would not have worn my Easter dress to picture day. If only my mother had bought me that Old Navy fleece vest instead of the B.U.M. target knockoff version. If only Target had been as cool in 4th grade as it is now, and Old Navy was just a poor man’s Target. If only, if only….
5th Grade: The Age of The Sweater Sets
As the years went on, my hair began to lose its golden luster and a mousey brown began to set in. This worried me, but I trusted that my newly acquired fashion statements would add the touch of femininity that I so lacked. Enter the sweater set. Actually enter every type of matching set known to the 90’s. Pooh Bear overall’s and matching sneakers, Tweety Bird Tees and shorts, tie dye crop tops and spandex bike shorts, cow print faux fur pocketed jean vest and matching cow pocketed jean shorts, star spangled tees and matching sandals, matching iridescent sweat suits… you catch my drift. My plea for an Old Navy shopping spree was finally answered and on my birthday I found the ultimate fashion statement, a hot pink zip off maxi-mini sweat skirt with floral embroidery. I knew this was the closest my mother would let me come to the midriff baring Christina Augilera ‘genie in a bottle’ statement. 7th Heaven had just come on T.V. and old women often stopped me in the grocery store mistaking me for the young Beverly Mitchell. My baby sitter, unlike my protective mother, let us watch MTV’s TRL countdown every day after we got off the bus and my affinity for a leather clad Ricky Martin and peroxide blonde Lance Bass began to blossom with every shake of a bon bon and over zealous boy band hand gesture. I joined the dance team and as we performed at the local malls I realized that my dreams of TRL level stardom just may come true with a little more Old Navy shopping a dramatic flip of my blunt bangs. I had officially become your typical American Girl.
P.S. Yes, I had an American Girl look-alike doll with matching child sized ensemble. Yes I lustfully flipped through every American Girl catalogue, wishing I looked that angelic as I slept next to my doll in our not so matching pajamas. I was more of a Josephina with Samantha sensibilities, a sunny Molly disposition and a Felicity vigor for fashion.
6th Grade: The Age of Boyhood
Boy oh boy, was 6th grade a struggle. While watching the last season on Game of Thrones, as pre-teen Bran began to age, my cousin and I came to a very astonishing realization. I was always bothered by the fact that young Bran Stark reminded me of someone, but despite the struggle to connect the dots I just couldn’t place the resemblance. Finally, during the siege of one territory or another, as his eyes rolled back in to his head I stood up in astonishment and shouted “I’ve go it, I’ve got it Bran is me in elementary school!”. Thus the inspiration for this post and walk down the lane of terrible bang’s past.
Sixth grade was a muddle of target clearance tee’s, Mudd jeans, and classic addidas sneakers. This year I also acquired a powder blue rain coat that I managed to wear every day, come rain or shine or 98 degree Ohio Valley humidity. Things like deodorant, shaving and hair care were starting to become a priority, however despite the massive amounts of Lip Smackers and Bath & Body Work’s that I hoarded it seemed that a feminine touch was as far away as Britney Spear’s level of stardom.
6th Grade Pt. 2: The Age of Double Trouble
Two very bad things happened at the second half of 6th Grade. The Parent Trap was on constant repeat on The Disney Channel and my school began to offer a second school photo ‘Spring Session’.
As I watched The Parent Trap for the one-hundred-and-third time I had a revelation. To avoid a very terrible yearbook fiasco like my last, I would take a cue from my favorite twins and go for the good old Annie James style and chop my hair off to a perky shoulder length blunt cut. I knew I was no hair dresser, so to help my mom out I went ahead and cut one side so that the stylist could even it out and make me look exactly like an adorable Lindsay Lohan. Except, my mother was not all too please that she had to make an emergency hair appointment and my cut actually came out looking less like the 90’s parent trap version and a little more like the Parent Trap circa 1961. Despite the hiccup, the big day rolled around I was ready. Bangs or no bangs, I decided I was going to rock my best ‘Daddy owns a vineyard in Sonoma’ style and flash that plaid clad, beaming snaggle toothed grin and blingin’ Mudd watch with a true Annie James behind the ear hair tuck. Again, 6th grade was a struggle.
7th Grade: The Age of ‘The Rachel’
Although I wasn’t usually allowed to watch Friends, I was fully aware of ‘The Rachel’ trend and I had every intention of duplicating that charming “I’m a sexy waitress” look. My hairdresser agreed that a layered cut would be good for my thick hair and I discovered that not all haircuts are made equal. I also discovered brow waxing, foundation, mascara and Mary Kay lipgloss. On picture day my best friend and I snuck to the girls bathroom and used her battery powered curling iron, which she hid in her locker, to give our bangs that extra ‘oomph’ they so desired. We then sealed the deal with a heavy mist of Tresemme hairspray and a heavy coat of Mary Kay’s ‘Beach Bronze’ lipgloss. I was sure 7th grade was to be the best year yet.
Later that summer, at church camp, my friends performed an intervention. I was informed that my bangs were ruining my life and that it was time to grow them out. My bangs were then promptly braided back into corn rows. Because several of my friends were Puerto Rican and very skilled in the art of hair styling, I thought this to be a suitable solution to my life’s greatest problem. Despite the fact that my scalp was scalded that summer and required me to slather aloe in between my corn rows and sleep in a do-rag, I began to truly understand what Britney Spears meant as she sand “Not a girl, not yet a woman”. 8th grade was full of butterfly hair clips, more corn rows and bobby pins; but by 9th Grade I had realized the power of a side part and bangs were nothing but a horrible, painful memory.
Attention Mothers Everywhere: Do not, I repeat DO NOT, give your little girl bangs unless you want her to A.) Repel potential male suitors long through middle school and avoid teenage pregnancy all together, B.) Learn how to deal with bullies from first hand experience, C.) Befriend the less-than-popular studious types who also have bangs or D.) Develop into a fully formed and emotionally un-wrecked human being whose self esteem does not derive from their outward appearance, but from the power they posses within to rise above their limitations.
In other words give your girl bangs, she’ll hate you for the next 16-20 years, but by the time she’s 26 she may just thank you via an inspiring and well written blog post.