We were watching TV the other day and caught that super annoying Appy-Grappy Fizz ad. S, after taking another look at them – the four boys, the girls and the bottles, had a minor meltdown about the unfairness of the genders expectations and roles – especially in the teens.
He claimed that the gaggle of giggly girls weren’t expected to do anything, but just sit around and blush and giggle while the boys posed, postured and tried to outdo each other in wit in some weird mating ritual to attract them. (I smell a story here; I should rummage a little bit in that closet!)
True enough I suppose, but I added a caveat. Told him, that this rule of just turning up and giggling was applicable to pretty, feminine girls. The not so pretty ones, the not so slim ones, the not so girly ones, had to resort to wit as well.
And as such conversations will, it degenerated to him turning to ask me “Well, were you pretty or were you funny?” (Sigh)
So I wryly thought back to my teen years – through late school, and early college, and suddenly realized how many people I know from that era were...er funny ( many of them have subsequently acquired prettiness or handsomeness, and forgotten that funniness).
When I looked back of acquaintances from that era, I remember some with good features, other’s with reasonably good figures – but I can’t for the life of me remember anyone who jaw-dropping, traffic stopping hot. That itself is rather intriguing. Yes, one goes through that gauche, gangly, acned teenage phase – but not for a decade. Probabilistically speaking, I ought to have acquired at least one hot acquaintance during that time, no?
And I had an epiphany – the clothes!
I grew up in a generation with fashion dyslexia. That's the kindest way to describe it.
I think back to the school and college years and what stands out is the terrible fashion sense, and well I suffered from it too. When I recall that hideous magenta skirt set, or that crushed crepe thingummy, I want to put my head through a wall (and this is coming from a fashion agnostic)
Many of memories of people are inextricably linked up with what they wore. If someone mentions a Mr. Sharma, to me, the first image that comes to mind is a vermillion shirt with big fat white polka dots. Or the Ms. Singh (who later became an international airline airhostess), is always associated with that bilious green sack-like, sack-material-like dress. Or even the more recent Mr. A with his brick orange shirt, with the er, brick pattern on it. Mr. A, I know for a fact has become quite trendy and has so many young girls buzzing around him, that we are planning to auction him off as a gigolo.
And it wasn’t only the designs – it was the material, the cut, the fitting, everything. I had a salwar suit in various shades of blue (which for some reason I thought was my lucky dress) which could easily have doubled up as a raincoat.
In undergrad, all the girls took to rather voluminous dresses (a couple of sizes too large- usually picked up from Fashion Street). Perhaps this was to cloak burgeoning figures, perhaps this was the modern avatar of half saris – but whatever it was, they looked terrible. I know I had this one white shirt, which reached halfway to my knees and could have easily be worn as a lab-coat. Or that other tee-shirt which was so huge, I could have worn it as a dress (this particular one was subsequently passed it off to my male cousin who is roughly twice my height and girth). Or those oh-so-ghastly checked umbrella cut skirts in towel-like materials which ended as dead-weights after a bout with the mumbai monsoons.
The best that could be said of most people’s fashion sense was that it was consistent. People stuck to their types – my friend S had a wardrobe which consisted exclusively of south cottons in shades of dark green, dark maroon, and dark rust in college. My other friend B had a penchant for knitted tops. Other classmate BP had a couple of these bandhni red shirts which were a particular favourite of his.
It took a few years of working before most of us started dressing up normally and discovering that it is okay to buy clothes from shops rather than from footpath. That clothes need to be approximately the same size as the individual wearing them. That accessories and shoes exist. That brands are brands for a reason.
I look at all the college kids today and am amazed at how well turned out they are – rebonded hair, hip, designer clothes, stunning shoes. I think we all looked so well, raw!
Ah well, the old order giveth way to the new.
Next: Much ado about Mouch ( Ever noticed how ALL boys went through growing moustaches as soon as they could and shaving it off once they hit 25?)