Individualist. According to Dictionary.com, an individualist is defined as “One that asserts individuality by independence of thought and action.” Everyone wants to be an individual. Everyone wants it so much that it’s become a fad. Now, I may be wrong, but that seems a bit paradoxical. For clarity purposes, let me elaborate.
As I’m nearing my quarter of a century mark, I’ve come to notice things about the youth culture. As always, young minds are often led by fads, what’s “hot” and what’s “not,” and are looking for a way to “make their mark.” I’m fully supportive of making a “mark” on the world. However, I’ve noticed that the new way to do this has been donning a “rebel” uniform. The most common theme I’ve seen has been apparel that’s derived from the late 1970’s punk scene.
Ten years ago when I was a freshman in high school I wore a lot of “punk” apparel. Anything from spiked hair to spiked collars to facial piercings, I was all for it. It wasn’t any more fashionable or meaningful when I did it; however, at that time I was called a “freak.” Now, being a “freak” is a compliment. Ok, so there’s nothing wrong with being a freak. I can dig that. Sure, it’s great to be who you are, to establish your identity, to be different.
Yet, I look amongst the sea of freshmen and I can’t tell the difference between one person and another. So, the individualist has become just another fad and part of the mass. To this day, I still dress in “my own way.” I have multicolored hair, wear band t-shirts, and wear studded wristbands. There’s nothing wrong with dressing like that. My big beef is with people walking around portraying an anarchist, rebellious attitude only to fit in with the mainstream idea of “cool.”
Recently I came across the December issue of the popular magazine “YM” which is aimed at an audience of females aged 12-19. In the middle of this barrage of “way cute outfits” and advice on “how to get your dream guy,” I came across a section that had products advertised according to personality classifications. There was the “Girly-girl” page, which included many products that were pink, cutesy, and “girly.”
And then there was the “Sports Nut,”and of course, there were products donned with soccer balls, footballs, and workout clothing. As I turned the page, ready to be confronted with more stereotypes, I came across the “Free Spirit” page. Um….did I miss something?
Since when can you classify something like that? That’s equivalent to, say, asking someone “So, what do you think I would like ?” The quote on the page read “You’ve been a vegetarian since birth, Ms. Birkenstock.” And there they were telling the “Free Spirit” just what they like. I was not only utterly annoyed, but disgusted that a magazine, which makes claims to want to support individuality, is marketing these stereotypes so freely and in such a glorified way.
I can honestly say that I don’t think those embedded within the youth culture really think about the message behind the clothing they wear. A good number of them may not even care. It’s become obvious that today’s younger set is more focused on looking like they don’t care, and as being apathetic has grown more and more popular, it’s now the thing to do.
Again, I’ll say, there’s nothing wrong with dressing the way you want. The paradox is that what’s cool is to not be cool. Be a rebel, classify yourself! Buy only Converse sneakers and spiked jewelry! Claim your identity and be ready to change it next year when the next fad comes it! Can we say, paradox? Indeed, we can.