Confessions of a former emo kid
It seems as though each generation beholds its own fascinating and effortlessly cool stream of subcultures, rebelling against mainstream fashion and rejection whatever Vogue claims to be "so in right now." From the eccentric Club Kids parading through the streets of New York City in the eighties, wearing platform boots and drag make up, to the youths rejecting fashion during the grunge era in thrifted flannel and unwashed hair, subcultures have continuously defined what it means to be young and rebellious.
Unfortunately, my own childhood was deprived of the glamour of heavy drug use and New York City nightclubs, instead consisting of faded band t-shirts and tragic hoodies designed to mimic animal ears. Even more unfortunately, I proudly paraded around my village wearing fishnet tights, neon hair extensions and an assortment of tacky jewellery strung around my neck like a medal for winning the ugliest outfit competition.
Yes I was, at the time, a proud member of the 'Emo community', with the unnecessarily long side fringe to prove it. My days were spent perfecting winged eyeliner and gluing (much to my parents dismay) posters of bands I barely knew, onto my bedroom walls. I devoured Kerrang! magazine each week, scanning each page as if I was stranded on a desert island and these were the secrets to survival, and plastering my pencil case in the free All Time Low stickers. Frying my hair and almost causing permanent damage to my vision were regular occurrences in my attempt to achieve the 'Emo' look, as I studied Youtube tutorials daily, desperate for a drastic change in my appearance. Even my school uniform fell victim to customisation, as my backpack jingled from the hundreds of badges and keyrings attached to it during my daily trudge to school (while wearing neon shoelaces of course).
Despite my appreciation for the outlandish attire of punks or hippies, my own attempts at alternative style are simply painful to recall, and I now resent my former self for ignoring my Mum as she told me this was "just a phase." Perhaps it is a romanticisation of the past, enforced onto my by fashion magazines who claim decades as trends, but in comparison to previous years my own generations attempts at subcultures seem disappointing, including my involvement in them.
However, few memories of these disastrous times are beginning to become tinged with nostalgia, as I start to reminisce the days my bedroom walls were barely visible beneath the abundance of posters and the sketches I spent hours on in failed attempts to seem artistic. Admittedly, it was fun to be twelve years old and completely, unapologetically excited about my favourite band, and to scream because Gerard Way looked at me during a concert, without even a drop of self consciousness. Doodling depressing lyrics between sums in my maths book and wasting hours watching Scuzz with my equally as deluded friends are now, strangely, some of my fondest childhood memories.
I've spent a lifetime examining photos of my parents as teenagers, wondering what possessed them towards that particular choice of attire... yet looking back on my own photos, I realise that not only are you blind to what is socially acceptable as a child, but that once a trend is over it looks, frankly, stupid. Wearing 'ugly' clothes and making questionable decisions regarding hair and makeup are simply an, albeit slightly painful, part of growing up... and perhaps that is worthy of celebration in its own right.
To exist as part of a sub culture seems exciting and almost exotic in contrast to the regularity of ones everyday surroundings. At least in most cases, it is not supposed to be trendy, but rather a rebellion against what is deemed acceptable within society. Most subcultures exist as an act of nonconformity, yet without realising they are simply conforming to an alternate set of standards. I may not have dressed identically to the other girls at my school, but my outfits matched thousands of other angsty pre-teens with a desire to stand out. The sense of superiority within those who choose to be different to those in their surroundings is laughable when you realise that everybody is probably copying somebody else. But, that doesn't mean subcultures should not exist. Despite how pretentious they may often seem, they are an outlet; individuals with shared interests who are able to establish a connection with others based on common passions.
So... although memories of my former self are excruciatingly painful to recall, it can be fun to laugh at photos with my dyed red hair covering my face and the word 'dead' scrawled on my knuckles. After all, have you even lived if you can't say "What was I wearing" at least once?
(btw, making this playlist was so much fun)