"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Own "It Gets Better" Campaign

NOTE: I wrote this post a couple of months ago in response to some Facebook mishegoss, yet I never posted it because it turned out differently than I had planned. Still. It's fun. Enjoy.

Nothing about monocles
in here. Uncool.
In eighth grade, I was your typical jock, popular enough to win the student council elections to become president of Gold House. I wore Sperry Topsiders with no socks, pleated slacks, and Izod polo shirts with an upturned collar when I wasn't wearing a tie or an argyle sweater. I would have accessorized with a top hat and monocle as well, but it's really hard to see with glass in front of only one eye.

Despite the supposed popularity of such a look in prep schools or Ivy League universities, public school eighth graders didn't wear ties if they could help it. It was the first time I realized I was differently minded. Fortunately, this particular peculiarity was socially acceptable; unfortunately, it was a gateway to a more severe sort of deviancy.

By the middle of my freshman year in high school, dressing Preppy wasn't enough.

Clown or Cool?
I shaved half of my hair off only to mousse and blow dry the rest in mischievous and provocative ways. My thrift store threads mixed plaid and paisley and three shades of black. One time after an evening with friends, I arrived home with--for no reason other than to look like Gary Numan on the cover of his Berserker album--blue hair, blue eyeliner, and blue lipstick. My aberrant behavior had taken its toll on my previously accepting father, and he demanded that I never appear this way again. He forbade me to see my friends, as if their bad influence might lead me next to paint my toenails or my tongue blue, too.

I thought I looked like Joseph Smith.
Maybe I should have gone with a cravat.
Other restrictions presented themselves. At church, some Sundays I wasn't allowed to pass the sacrament like the other young men dressed in their white shirts and sport coats. My hair was too pointy, or they didn't like the way I wore my plaid shirt's collar up with my tie. Then at high school graduation, I couldn't do anything with my hair or I wouldn't be able to wear the mortar board. I rebelled by wearing plaid shorts and black Converse high tops under my gown. Little did they know.

Now imagine her much less
 pretty and with a goatee.
At BYU, it got worse. Brigham Young University couples its Honor Code with a Dress Code, which gives license to the accusation that you are less than honorable if your shorts don't touch your knee or your manly long hair does touch your collar. At that point, I stopped wearing my collar up. Plus, the 80's were over; I had to let it go. My hair grew long in front and was shaved short in back. I sported an A-line haircut before Victoria Beckham was ever Posh Spice.

I obeyed the letter of the Dress Code, if not the spirit. Still, I was treated like a second-class citizen, subjected to meetings and interviews that my roommates weren't despite their near-constant viewing of Singled Out on MTV.

The lesson here, kids, is when people judge you for looking funny, know that it gets better. It gets better because eventually you will stop dressing that way. A forty-year-old teacher wearing blue lipstick is making no kind of statement.


  1. While you were busy waxing rebellious, I was actively following and enforcing the rules. At my high school graduation, I "confiscated" the beach ball that was being batted around during the speeches. When the guy next to me (Donny Parker) called me a bitch, I wasn't offended, I took it as a sign of my greater maturity.

    The fact that we fell in love, got married, and are raising children together is perhaps the best kind of indication that who you are in high school has very little to do with who you become as you get older.

    1. I dunno. I pretty much still obeyed all the rules. I just wanted to look funny while I did it. It's not that far-fetched that we are where we are now. :)

  2. I love blue hair. <3

    Variety is the spice of life. I wish I had more energy to dress differently and spend more time/money on style. I really look up to people who arn't afraid to be different.


    1. I still like my plaid, but you're right. It takes a lot of energy to keep up appearances, and I need my energy for other stuff these days.

  3. Oh the things we do to make statements when we are young:)
    I don't know though, I would say a 40 year old teacher wearing blue lipstick might be making some kind of statement...albeit a very strange one:)

    1. All I know, Deanna, is that if I showed up at school like that and it wasn't Spirit Week, I wouldn't get a single student to do a single thing the rest of the year. :)