I toured Forever 21 a few years ago buying Christmas presents for a member of a needy family and I was reminded of this piece when my oldest friend wrote to me about a shopping trip with her daughter.
I crawled through Saturday traffic to Big Honkin’ Mall close to downtown to specifically purchase a couple of gifts for a needy family. I was pretty excited about doing this because I chose to buy a sweater and jeans for a sixteen year old girl who–given her sizes–is approximately the size Beav was when he was a three year old. I’ve never bought clothing for a teenage girl and I have it on good authority it’s way way more fun to make the selections without said girl in tow. No one told me taste was “stupid” or “bad” nor was I subjected to eye rolling or tears.
It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be to find things that wouldn’t make her look like she was auditioning for a part in “I was a highschool Hootchie Mama” or “Uh Oh, I Forgot My Pants! But That’s OK!” I also used the jaundiced eye of a mother of young men who do not spare me the details of what they think of young women who dress like: “trashy sluts” or “hos”
I had a good time at Forever 21 and I knew what to expect because I’ve picked up blingy jewelry in there before. The clothes are inexpensive, plentiful and there is something for everyone who weighs 90 pounds soaking wet. I like the way it’s set up in sections, too.
You have the “Lookit Lookit!! I’m a trashy ‘ho” section with sparkly skirts (or are they belts?) and shimmery belly shirts; and everything is small enough to put in the bottom of your backpack and store in your locker for changing into at school. (I never did that but I watched a young woman completely transform from a cute Judy Moody into a sultry Lolita at her locker in less than 30 seconds at Wally’s middle school a few years ago. It was amazing, I almost applauded but that wouldn’t look to good because I was the volunteer school nurse that day so I had to scowl at her.)
Next up was the “I’m a card carrying member of PETA and my grandma was at Woodstock” section with the flowing gauze skirts, floppy “leather” hats, peasant blouses and short shorts that may or may not actually be belts. It was as quiet as a Nevada ghost town in this section, tumbleweed blowing down the aisle. Long flowing skirts are not The Thing for the Jr. Sized crowd.
On the other side of the store was the Naughty Secretary section for the twenty-somethings who have jobs and have to dress for the corporate world. This is the section I would have shopped when I was a sixteen year old. Cute polka-dotted blouses, teetering pumps and pencil skirts (belts?) perfect for presenting yourself to the world like you’re of the generation when it was in your job description to make coffee and run around a desk.
Last but not least was the place the girl who favors jeans, sweaters and flannel shirts. She just wants to make good grades, disappear in the crowd and get the hell out of High School all while exposing her abdomen and almost the full length of her leg. These clothes made me laugh out loud in their effort to be “normal” and “acceptable”. It was the “Mom Approved” section because they were the clothing least likely to make you look like a street walker or a high class call girl or Cher in 1973. Again, the clothing looked as if it hadn’t been touched by human hands in days and I swear I saw a dust bunny under a rack of cute hoodies and tee-shirts that didn’t look like I had washed them in hot and then dried them on high.
Guess which section I bought my gifts.