Monday, November 23, 2009

Pre-Teen Life, Part II

For all the middle school nostalgia, there were things I don't miss from the summer of 2000, when I was 11 and moving up to 7th grade:

Abercrombie and Fitch and American Eagle brands were the markers of popularity. In fact, the cult of popularity seemed to rise out of nowhere. I think this is where I gathered there was a social stratification around the hallways that run in a square around the perimeter of the Clague Middle School courtyard, just as social stratification existed in the "real world" outside the plot of land at the corner of Nixon and Bluett Roads by income, by class, by race.

Sometime in middle school, East Asian girls showed up with brown or reddish brown highlights in their hair. I desperately wanted at the time but my mom wouldn't let me do it. Her reason was that the chemicals in hair dye were bad for me, but I thought her main reason for denying me this wish was because it was expensive. But I'm glad I held out until that desired passed from me. I am satisfied with my natural hair color now. I don't think that dying one's hair is a manifestation of discomfort with one's racial identity. It's far more complicated that just wanting to be white. I know that I'm not gonna be white if I have light brown hair. But there is an element of cultural tweaking that makes me uncomfortable.

I really wanted a second piercing in my ear, right above the first one that I have had since I was about five. I thought about it very seriously and actually convinced my parents to let me do this when I turned the very mature age of 13. But then I chickened out because I was afraid of the pain. I have a higher tolerance for pain now, but thank god I didn't go through with it then. I think they look so tacky now.

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