5.04.2010

An Artificial Sense of Self

I've been wondering about the phenomenon over the last few years (probably since around 2006) of people in general (in my area) becoming really good at looking put together. Except they look like mannequins sometimes, they're so expertly put together. Nary a hair is out of place...it's sort of creepy in a Bedford Wives sort of way.

I think that an increase in tourism to Las Vegas--to shows like Celine Dion and Cher--are partly to blame, as well as an increase in accessibility (read: cheaper) hair treatments like Brazilian straightening and extensions, as well as tanning salons and home-use tanning creams/potions. Then there's cheap fashion outlets like Old Navy and H&M.

But mostly, the uniform look that young stars and starlets are wearing on TV shows and in movies...I think that has led many to follow and even imitate the looks they see around them. The look, you might also be familiar with, is the loose tank tops or halter tops, censorship-short jeans skirts or hot pants, leggins, flip flops, Ugg boots, and stick-straight unrealistically-light blond (did I mention stick-straight?) extensioned coif.

Is there a loss of creativity and individuality when everyone starts looking the same? What are we teaching our kids about perfectionism vs. reality? No cost barred? More importantly, why are we expending so much cash on industries that hardly need additional showers of cash?

I live near a city that is famously fad-conscious (yes, it's you Naperville) and I have seen a sashay of Abercrombie and Fitch muscled pre-pubescent boys and flighty short-skirted/long-extensioned blond beauties--or tramps depending on your perspective. And these kids go out together as groups or walk in the shadows by twos. At their age...*shivers*...who's doing homework or planning college, or being productive getting a job/volunteering?

At the beginning I stared agape. How can they be so social and sex-role conscious at such an early age? Then the answer was only as far away as their parents walking down the sidewalk a little further down. These parents are typically wearing latest cruise or resort fashions (read: labels) and what I would call some surgical attention to their otherwise-would-be-aged spots.

I like fads because it shows initiative, innovativeness, and a freshening up of fashion, beauty, and ideas in general. It certainly makes it easier for less creative, stylish, or color-conscious individuals to be able to pull great looks together in a jiffy. However, when  really young kids are going around all dressed alike, sometimes exposing chest areas and other places, or having highlights even before they're old enough to buy cigarettes...walking with airs... it kinda makes me go huh? Creepy. It's like I've suddenly realized I live in Lilliput.

But after in-vivo desensitization after a couple of years of seeing these things everywhere I go, my reaction is now one of pity. Pity that the parents of these kids are so far taken into the world of fads themselves (rat race of fashion? Who's your favorite millionaire on this block?) that they are no longer concerned with teaching discretionary decision making skills to their kids. What ever happened to be able to objectively and critically approach fads and trends? What about realizing and taking evasive action just as retailer goes to pull hard-earned dollars out of wallets?

I personally do like catchy trends when they show innovativeness or a charming take on the past while making it applicable to now. I usually personalize trends, however, as I never feel quite right if I just follow something blindly. Between you and me...me thinks this is a personality quirk that's in short supply 'round these here parts.