I’m one of those laugh-crying middle-age types. My uncool-ness is not ironic; it just IS. My hair part is rarely intentional, but tends to land somewhere just right of center. And while I know my way around, and sometimes even love, GIFs, reels, and stories, I’m definitely settled into a space technologically that falls far short of a lucrative Tik-Tok career.
So when I read of the kerfuffle that was kicked up about what is and is decidedly not “in” as handed down, ironically or not, by – what the hell would we call it, Gen Z Decree? – I found myself almost subconsciously switching my laugh-crying emojis to the way less fleshy, way more dead, skull. (I did NOT change my part, since I never even part my hair intentionally, or style it, or dry it…and, skinny jeans? I busted mine back in April, aka Pandemic Month Two: Everything is Over).
But that fight was SO early this week. And in the time since, I’ve realized one very important thing: Gen X are basically Boomers to BOTH of those warring generations, and so I was never IN this fight.
Which is honestly a huge relief. As a right-down-the-center-of-the-Gen-X-age road at 45, I’m definitely not doing anything trendy. I’m wearing an 80s band tee because I loved the band in the 80s and every year since, my big stretch pants because I’ve accepted that I went up a size but have precious little money to back it up with my wallet, and actual jewelry because my robe’s in the dryer right now so I decided to go all in on fancy today. I matched my watch band to my band logo – band, band, you know? (I just now realized those words were the same.) I used my badass silver polish wipes, recommended from BuzzFeed, to clean up my hoopie earrings from Express clearance circa 2011.
I love my plain white home office, and I have tabs open on my computer almost perpetually seeking out 1) bird feeders that offer room to really spread OUT and 2) melasma treatments that win internet points from Allure, Reddit, Buzzfeed, or all three. I get my roots done like, a lot, but they’re not gray at all, just kind of, well, the color of a mouse. And my hair guy can play the DRUMS, so that provides a sort of misplaced comfort to me.
And! It’s been snowing and my solar lights look like THIS at night:
Please don’t read this as a bitter fade – if I can say one thing of these laugh-crying middle-age years, it is that I adore them. They’re also not so far removed that I forget my own younger and desperate need to carve out an identity, to declare independence over the – as they were called then – Baby Boomers, with my fuck-off leggings under purposeful, visible boxer shorts and Doc Martens.
It’s one of the best parts of youth, really, that being sure of yourself in a way that is both definitive and defensive. When my Gen Z stepson argues everything we say today, though I want to roll my eyes at him so hard, I also can’t help but remember.
Yes, this is right. This is as it should be.
So it is that no matter where we part our hair, or even if we have hair to part, whether our skinny jeans are actually leggings or they have stupid zippers, or we rip them out when we squat down and burn them ceremoniously, we’re all just figuring out our own skin at THIS POINT in our lives.
And I definitely think that’s worth a good laugh-crying middle-age emoji.