Everything is stupid, and so are we. Welcome to Jezebel’s Stupidest Summer Ever, a season-long celebration of our worst, most idiotic thoughts and opinions.
Growing up, summer was often a time for reinvention and renewal. The sweet three month break from school teased with possibility: you could come back to be somebody brand new; or at least you could look like the kind of person you wanted to be. Though ultimately summer reinventions—the bowl hair cut, a wardrobe full of guacho pants, Uggs—fooled no one but yourself, perhaps those missteps were necessary in order to become comfortable with the person you are underneath it all. Here’s a collection of Jezebel’s most unfortunate attempts to reinvent ourselves, from grade school well into adulthood:
The summer before sixth grade, I spent four weeks at an all-girls sleepaway camp in Pennsylvania. At the time, I was a just-pubescent little nerd with frizzy hair, an outdated crush on Michael J. Fox, and a wardrobe consisting exclusively of t-shirts and tanks with puppies on them. Though some of the girls in my bunk were perfectly nice, others did not appreciate my lack of Mavi jeans or long descriptions of various Family Ties plot points, and made their general disgust towards me known.
One night, we were having a social with the boys’ camp across the road, so I wore a tank top and a friend’s pair of horse-riding boots that I thought looked sexy. “You’re wearing that?” one of my bunkmates said in horror when she saw me, then ran off to giggle about my outfit with some other girls in my age group. None of the boys at the social talked to me. When I got home at the end of the session, I tossed all my dog shirts, invested heavily in Abercrombie & Fitch and hair gel, and became a considerably worse person for the next five or six years.
I made the unfortunate mistake of cutting of all my hair into a very alarming pixie cut inspired by Angelina Jolie in Hackers the summer after my freshman year of high school. It grew maybe one inch over the course of that year and looked, frankly, horrific. My sophomore year I moved to California and started high school there. I looked bad. Pretty bad! And somehow I made friends.
The summer before I turned 16 I decided to finally change my dark brown hair color to red. Big development for me, hair virgin. At the time I had been watching Skins season 3, in which character Emily Fitch has a deep, cherry red color, and it was incidentally the summer of Rihanna’s Loud era. Red hair was in the air. Since my mom wouldn’t let me touch a box (despite googling SEVERAL Youtube videos on how to bleach and dye my own hair, GOD mom) I ended up going to a local salon, who got it more or less right. It certainly wasn’t my best look. As a teenager with frizzy, messy, curly hair, the red only sort of brought that out clownishly, when all I really wanted to look like was Shirley Manson, specifically in this video. It was only after I went back to brown that I realized I had pulled a full-on Angela Chase, “Crimson Glow” color and all, and thus felt stupid for being such a 15-year-old cliché.
Between sophomore and junior year of high school, my boobs miraculously grew by about 10 cup sizes, before they deflated back to my normal self three years later. I was a very late bloomer: I didn’t get my period until 16, didn’t break 5’ until around then, and the only other signs of puberty that peaked through were evident in my arm pits. At this point, I had never been kissed (except for truth or dare on the bus in 6th grade, where I was definitely considered the “gross” girl to peck on the lips), and was trying, desperately, to shed my nerdy, childlike exterior and feel like a woman, or at least look like one. I discovered air-padded bras padded at the BonTon, and bought them in a multitude of sizes—honestly whatever they came in. It was all fake anyway! But the air-padded bras make a noise, I learned one day, when my chest pressed against a table during a test and emitted a loud creaking sound. I was horrified, and promptly discovered a new padded bra from Victoria’s Secret, equipped with silicone. I was only able to get away with this for so long; as a runner, I had to wear sports bras, and never thought about the problem that would pose for me. After my freshman year of college, finally having fit puberty and also feeling slightly less insecure, I finally ditched all of those cursed bras. Good riddance.
In around 2012, my glorious and genius hairstylist Shaun Surething and I got to reminiscing about the 1990s, as we often do, and at some point we decided it would be a good idea for me to shave an undercut into my long, dark brown hair, and bleach it blonde underneath, which complimented my baby bangs, which were so extreme in their asymmetry that part of them were shaved into my hairline. It looked really cool in the Tumblr era, but I’m not sure I would do it again. (Actually… maybe I’ll do it again.)
Last summer, I got a bob and decided I would also dye it blonde. Why, I’m not entirely sure. It was super cute at first, but then it started to grow out and I was plagued with another decision: touch-up or grow out? I never really decided, letting several months pass telling myself I was totally find with this intermediate style, and then finally I went with a third option: dye it back to my natural color, which is basically black. Why did I go blonde? I thought it’d be fun. Did I actually have more fun? Hard to say. In the end, I defaulted back to the real me—but it’s really just to buy myself more time to decide if I want to go blonde again... They say you’ll repeat the same mistakes over and over until you learn your lesson, and I view those who have in high regard.
I can’t think of a time in high school I wasn’t reinventing myself, to myself (I’m not sure how much others noticed although I was always curious). Once I came back from summer with a wardrobe consisting only of high-waisted stovepipe jeans; some had buckles, one had pinstripes, it was a suitable mess. I was obsessed with fashion designers, models, ripping off runway looks on Beacon’s Closet excursions, and had started brashly filling up sketchbooks with my “ideas.” The summer of the waist-surpassing pants I’d interned for a fashion designer named Judi Rosen who used to have a little store on Kenmare street, where I once sold a pair of sunglasses to a Victoria’s Secret model. My dad’s then-girlfriend, who seemed to me the apotheosis of cool in that she was a real estate agent and, by her own account, on speaking terms with Betsey Johnson, hooked me up with the job. I also worked a bit in Rosen’s studio on Crosby with a woman named Desirée who represented the other pinnacle of chic: bangs, a boyfriend. I was paid in skinny jeans and a new style of low self-esteem.
I can’t remember which grade in high school this was, but one fall semester I came back from summer wearing a lot of Guess t-shirts and had brand new Timberlands on my feet, which was the go-to outfit at one point of ~cool~ girls in Queens. I thought I was fancy, but I don’t think anyone noticed.
I suppose I reinvented myself in summer 2013 into someone who wears a DIY flower crown. That was A Time. Thanks, Tumblr.
But honestly, I can’t recall any interesting attempts to reinvent myself growing up. This is BORING but the closest I got to summer reinventions was my obsession with reinventing myself into a better (cooler???) student ever summer when I was younger. I’d pour over ANYTHING back-to-school related. I loved the idea of reinvention more than I loved actually putting in the work to reinvent myself. Besides, the tips never really worked: I was always smart, but my academic performance was usually only moderately above average, and no amount of back-to-school tips from Seventeen could have turned me into a cool kid. I wore wizard rock t-shirts and neon tights in my senior year of high school, y’all. It was in the stars.