Last week I shared my childhood holiday shopping memories. Problem is, I STILL can’t get that Barbie Country Camper out of my mind. Damn that orange hippy-flowered vehicle! It made me wonder, what were the ‘must have’ items of other generations gone by? That's why I bring you…
THROUGH THE AGES: Holiday Shopping
All I want for Christmas is...
Below is a list of all the cool new toys and other hot items that debuted in each decade (I marked them in red), as well as some info on popular items with teens.
1900s -Now keep in mind that for the first few decades, kids didn’t expect much for the holidays. Many just got stockings with some penny candy, an orange, and maybe a small gift or two. If you were a boy and your folks had a few bucks in their pocket, however, you might get a Lionel Train. Woo hoo! Crayola crayons came on the scene a little later, which were much more affordable for everyone. Later on there were teddy bears, named for then president, Teddy Roosevelt, and die cast cars. If you were a teenaged girl, a popular gift might have been a sewing kit or a new book - complete with bookmark! Exciting times, I know.
1910s - This decade was a dream for budding builders. Tinker Toys, Erector Sets, and Lincoln Logs were all introduced. Girls got a special treat with the introduction of Raggedy Ann, the sweet doll from the popular children’s book series. Though older girls didn't really get toys back then, some received an Ouija Board, marking the first -- but not last -- time they’d become popular.
1920s - Raggedy Ann continued to dominate until late in the decade when Madame Alexander Dolls became all the rage. Doll chinaware and furniture were also popular. Boys delighted when the yo-yo made its first appearance. Sleds were hot, too. As for the older set, one traditional gift for girls was a fancy box of stationary. Think anyone would have a use for that now? I wonder….
1930s - In this decade board games made their debut with the classics Sorry and Monopoly. Betsy Wetsy, the first (and unfortunately not the last) peeing doll was born then, too. With the following year came the View-Master. Everyone had to have one, not just kids. Featuring color -- yes, color! --- 3-D photographs of places and things around the world, it was a favorite gift for many age groups. Since it was the depression, many girls would have been thrilled with a new coat, shoes, or other piece of clothing. Hard times, folks. Hard times.
1940s - What did the future for the Forties hold? Teen girls asked the Magic 8 Ball, which made its first appearance. Like every decade before and after, teens also asked for clothes. Board games continued to dominate in all age groups with such new additions as Candy Land, Scrabble, and Clue. Then, of course, there were Tonka Trucks -- made of die-cast metal, not plastic -- making them perfect for ramming into Mom’s coffee table. Near the tail end of the decade, little girls wanted the Baby Coos doll and, for both boys and girls, cowboys and Indians were the bomb. Everyone wanted a cowboy hat and two gun holster cap gun set like Hopalong Cassidy and the Lone Ranger. Yee-hah! This trend continued well into the Fifties.
1950s - Lots of fun ‘hands on’ stuff came out during this time. Silly putty, Legos, and Play-Doh were all favorites. There was also Mr. Potato Head, complete with everything but the potato -- a real one had to be supplied by parents. The hula hoop also debuted as well as the beauty and fashion icon, Barbie. She looked pretty smokin’ in that black and white striped bathing suit. Me-yow! For older kids, record players were high on the list. What better way to listen to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and Ricky Nelson? Through the next four decades, records would be high on all teens lists. Brownie cameras were also popular. Angel Face powder and other make up were on some girls' lists, plus -- I won't say it again -- clothes.
1960s - Enter G.I. Joe who, despite what every boy in America might have believed, was created so Barbie could have a cool boyfriend. Etch-a-Sketchs, Hot Wheels, and Twister also came into existence. My favorites? The super cool Lite Brite and (drum roll please) Easy Bake Oven. Nothing like a 40 watt light bulb to bake those 3-inch cakes! For older kids, the transistor radio finally got cheap enough to ask folks to buy one. You could take music with you where ever you went! For older kids, 8-track tapes for stereo systems also made an entrance. For teen girls, nothing beat the oval-shaped princess phone. In fact, whether it be the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, even Nineties getting a phone in your room was the HUGEST THING EVER. Girls also fancied those new portable hair dryers with the flexible tube that pumper air into a shower camp -- no more sleeping in rollers. Hooray! “The Swinger,” a fun Polaroid camera was a hit with teens. Much later in the decade, when things got groovier, lava lamps made their first appearance, becoming a popular teen gift item in the Seventies, too. They also craved anything with a ‘peace’ sign.
1970s - Nerf balls became the rage for boys everywhere, while girls got Strawberry Shortcake. Rubik’s Cube and skateboards were also hot, as well as the biggest movie tie-in juggernaut of them all: Star Wars merchandise. Action figures, trading cards, underoos… ‘the Force’ took over the world. Groovy items older kids went for were mood rings and black lights with corresponding psychedelic posters. Troll dolls and granny glasses were also popular, as were blow dryers, one of the greatest inventions of all time. Lip gloss in a pot made it big and in 1979, every girl -- big or small -- got an assortment of Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers in their stockings. As for ‘peace’ sign merchandise? It made way for ‘Have a Nice Day’ smilie face stuff. That yellow face was EVERYWHERE. Before I end, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this decade also brought one of the biggest games in geek history. The fantasy role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons debuted in 1974.
1980s - Oh, man. I don’t want to relive this…the Cabbage Patch Kids. Children were NUTS about them, making them the must have doll of 1983. Sure, there were Care Bears and Smurfs, too, but Cabbage Patch Kids? Whoa. Teddy Ruxpin, the animatronic talking bear, became a 'wanna have' toy later in the decade, though it was too expensive for many to afford. As for boys, Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles entered the scene. For the older set, Trivial Pursuit became the hot game, and everyone wanted a Sony Walkman (with tape cassette!) or stereo so they could listen to their tunes. Roller blades were also introduced mid decade, making anyone who still had roller skates look so lame. After Tom Cruise's hot performance in 1983's Risky Business, teens were dying for a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses. The coolest things, though? The decade started with the Atari game system and ended with the Game Boy. The video game era officially began. Then there was the VHS cassette. People could watch movies in their homes whenever they wanted. Huge.
1990s - Move over Ninja Turtles, it’s time for the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers! Later on, Pokemon became big, too. Teletubbies dominated the younger set, as well as a slew of other kiddie TV show merchandise. (Can you say ‘Blues Clues?’) Elmo, being the bad self he is, managed to create a stir all on his own. Tickle Me Elmo was THE toy in 1996. I can’t tell you the amount of mayhem and angst the doll created that Christmas season when it sold out early. Beanie Babies made their mark, too. They were not only popular with young kids and teens, but made a big dent in many a collector’s pocket book in its hey day. Teens were also gaga for slap bracelets, plus we can't forget that the Nineties = boy bands. (For more on that see Through the Ages: Teen Idols.) Many a girl would have freaked for a ticket to one of their shows.
2000s - The beginning of the millennium started off with the Razor scooter craze. Video game systems, be they hand-held or at home consoles, also became must have toys. Tamagotchis left there mark and Dora the Explorer became a household name. Though Barbie continued to reign in the doll department, Bratz entered the scene and shook her world. Mid-decade, Radica’s 20 Q electronic game became a cool gift for older kids. They might also have wanted a DVD of their favorite movie or (girls only) a copy of one of the Twilight books. but if you really wanted to rock their stockings? I had to be a cell phone or IPod.
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this nostalgic trip. Now I’ve got to take a trip to the store and get some REAL holiday shopping done. If you’ve got the time, whether you’re an old fart or a hip happenin’ teen, I’d love to hear what your must have toys were when you were young. Come on, fess up!
Hey! Special thanks to my mom, my Aunt Margie, and my friend, Theresa B., for their' generational' input. Keepin' it real folks. Keepin' it real...
So it’s Friday morning, the day right after I posted ‘Back in the Day: Shoes.’ I’m on such a high I decide to dive right into researching the expected sequel, ‘Through the Ages: Shoes.’ I’m so excited…I can’t wait!Sound good? Sound realistic? Of course not cuz it’s a big fat lie. Start again:It’s Wednesday, the day before I normally post. I haven’t lifted a finger and I’m like freakin’ out, man! This isn’t a silly post I can just slap together. I’ve got a lot of work to do. As soon as I drop off the kids at school I decide to dedicate my day to intensive shoe research (Please don’t tell my husband. He would NOT be pleased.)So I get back home and start researching. Typically, I go to a ton of websites and do some pretty exhaustive poking and digging. Seriously. That’s just the way I roll. My readers deserve the best. J But not this time. This time I land on a pretty cool website ( http://www.centuryinshoes.com/ ) that has just the right amount of info, pictures - everything I need to produce a great post. Well, darlin', I ain’t no fool. I take a look at this site and think, “Why should I bust my butt recreating something that’s already out there?” Short answer: I shouldn’t. At the same time, I wasn’t quite ready to relinquish one of my favorite topics. Therefore I bring you….THROUGH THE AGES: ShoesThe Signature Shoe of Each Decade As decided by a committee of one (me), the following shoes have been deemed the signature shoe for each respective decade. They’re not necessarily the most popular styles, just the most remembered. As always, if you think I’ve blown it, feel free to chime in with a comment. Unlike my rule at home, what I say doesn’t always go. Let’s start with the Fifties:
for a true Fifties photo add bobby socks
1950s - The Saddle Shoe
When you think of the Fifties, what comes to mind? Poodle skirts, cardigan sweaters and saddle shoes. These black and white leather shoes were the equivalent of the present day ‘just hanging out’ sneakers which, back then, were only found in the gym. With that being said, a small aside: I must pay homage to a shoe that debuted in the Fifties but still sends fashionistas into rapture: the stiletto. It took sex appeal (and bunions) to a whole new level.
1960’s - Go Go Boots
Booys as everyday footwear? Seriously? Thanks to go go boots, yes. Before them, boots were only worn if you had a snow shovel or riding crop in your hand. Introduced in 1964, they really took the stage when Nancy Sinatra debuted her signature (and only) hit, These Boots Were Made for Walkin’, in 1966. Though they came in all colors and heights, the one ingrained in our collective memory are the white ones that hit below the knee. Made for walkin’, indeed.
There's no place like the ER
1970s - Platform Shoes
Fashion in the Seventies reached new heights with these puppies -- four inches or higher, to be exact. Platform shoes (and boots, and sandals) looked like any other footwear, only they had soles thicker than Jessica Simpson. Some styles looked pretty outlandish. Others looked pretty groovy. All looked pretty scary going up and down the stairs. Imagine the look on the Emergency Room nurse's face when the patient told them the reason they were there was because they fell of their shoes. Don’t laugh too hard. It happened.
from simple beginnings....
1980s - The Ballet Flat
Okay, back to the ground. While you’re there do a plie. That’s right, I’m giving this decade’s honor to the ballet flat. Everyone had a pair. No, they had seven pairs -- one for every color of the rainbow. They were so simple they went with everything, which is probably why we wore them with everything. They didn't all have bows. Many were plain but, never fear, there were plenty of silly do-dads we could clip on right where the bow should be if we wanted to add pizzazz. In an era when color-coordination was king, they came to our rescue. Bless them.
1990s - Doc Martens
This was a toughie. The Nineties were so anti-fashion (Birkenstocks, anyone?). But that’s exactly why I went with a shoe just as rebellious. A favorite of grungers and punks, these clunky work boot/shoes made a statement: this is a no fashion zone. That meant, of course, they later became fashionable. Still, you’ve got to respect them.
2000 - Flip Flops
Podiatrists rejoice! Thanks to flip flops’ poor arch support, they’ll be in business for a long time to come. Still, you gotta love these free n’ easy slip-ons. When I was a teen we just had the classic model - rubber soles with oh-so-painful hard plastic straps that hurt between the toes. We called them ‘thongs’ and only wore them to the beach (imagine that, thongs at the beach!) But during the 2000s they evolved into something more -- everyday footwear. The colors, the materials, the embellishments…you can dress them up or dress them down. The possibilities are endless. How long they’ll last, no one knows but they’ve sure made their mark.
So ends my tribute to footwear. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride. I’m always interested in what you think so tell me, how did I do? Don’t feel bad if you don’t agree. If I don’t like what you have to say I’ll just go shoe shopping. That always makes me feel better.
Last week I gave you the low-down on my generation’s long love affair with Farrah Fawcett’s feathery tresses. Now it’s time to expand your hair horizons. It’s time for...THROUGH THE AGES: Hair
1920s – In the twenties women wore their hair short. I mean REALLY short, as in the ‘Daisy Dukes’ of hair short. Popular styles included the bob, the shingled look, the Dutch Boy, and the Eton Crop -- a very short/show the ears-style inspired by students of the famous British prep school for boys. All in all, the boyish look ruled. So who, you wonder, inspired this craze? A boy, of course, Well, actually a man. It was author F. Scott Fitzgerald of The Great Gatsby fame. In 1920 he wrote a short piece for the Saturday Evening Post entitled, “Bernice Bobs Her Hair.” It featured a sweet but socially inept girl who ‘transformed’ into a smooth talking vamp by way of her society-girl cousin and a pair of barber’s shears. Alas! A new role model was born or, rather, written.
1930s – In the Thirties, women got tired of the boyish look and decided to embrace their curves – and that included hair. Not only did hair grow longer (though still not past the shoulder), things started to get curly. The big thing? Finger waves. By 1935, everyone had to have them. Paired with sausage curls, pin curls, or just alone, hardly anyone played it ‘straight.’ One thing that did carry over from the Twenties was the importance of hair styles being able to accomodate the latest hat wear fashions. Back in the day women wore hats, a trend that continued into the Sixties.
1940s – The trend toward more feminine looks continued in the Forties, with some styles even dropping below the shoulders (gasp!). At the same time, many women had to ‘man’ up and take over the jobs fellas left when they went off to fight in WWII. So while sultry movie stars like Lauren Bacall and Veronica Lake could let their long locks flow, every day women with long hair wore snoods, a sort of cool-looking hair net that a girl wouldn’t be caught dead wearing today. As I’m telling you all this, keep in mind there were no hand-held blow dryers or flat irons/curling irons around (a couple of early models ended in scorched hair). Women relied on metal clips and/or curlers to achieve the looks they wanted. Due to this, many women washed their hair only once a week – a lot of them at their hairdresser’s – where it would be styled and dried by those mammoth hairdryers you have to sit under. This practice lasted all the way into the Sixties.
1950s – Okay, so the war was over and women were back and home where they belonged J. Thus began the ‘happy housewife with perfectly coiffed hair’ phase. Though styles continued to stay primarily short, they grew more glamorous. Soft and curly were all the rage, with straight hair still a ‘no-no.’ Still, for a short while, pony tails tied with a chiffon scarf were popular with teens, giving them a break from sleeping with curlers and/or clips in their hair. Oh! Remember the poodle skirt? Well, they also had the poodle cut, made popular by I Love Lucy star, Lucille Ball. As the decade progressed, hair started to get bigger, which leads us to the Sixties….
1960s – Ahhh….the Sixties. In like a lamb and out like a lion. Hair started out in Fifties style, with curls progressing to big and looser. Bouffants, beehives, and lot of back-combing – all were seen back then. Later on we saw the flip style, too, with straight hair curled up at the ends. Near the end of the decade, things started to get groovy and long hair finally came into fashion in a big way. Straight or wavy? Didn’t matter. Just “flow it, show it, long as God can grow it,” like they sang in the song Hair from the hippie movie/musical Hair.
Though only a portion of women embraced the free-and-easy hippie lifestyle, most everyone embraced idea of ditching all the curlers and hairspray and moving toward simpler styles. .
1970s – Hair stayed pretty simple in the early Seventies. That was good, because the country was a mess. The backlash from the Vietnam War and President Nixon’s ‘dirty tricks’ left a bad taste in everyone’s mouths. Who cared about hair? We had to fight ‘the man!’ A lot of teens went around looking like Marsha Brady from The Brady Bunch, with long, straight hair parted down the middle. Then, as I so eloquently expressed in last week’s post, Farrah Fawcett changed it all in 1976. Glamour was back on, and it was fuller, more feathery. The advent of hand-held blowdryers earlier in the decade helped to make that happen. Since I covered this time period pretty well last week, I won’t go into too much more detail. Instead, I will take the time to honor the absolute corniest shampoo ever to debut : Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific. It took the U.S. by storm in the mid-Seventies, complete with goofy commercials. Walk up to your mom and say that phrase (with enthusiasm, of course) and you’re sure to get a chuckle.
1980s – As you know, the Eighties were the most important decade because that’s when I was a teen. J And as you also know, being the ardent “Mom’s Blog” follower that you are, hair was BIG. For full details on Eighties hair hit last week’s post, though I will add a few more details now. Case in point: the modern curling iron. It was invented in the Eighties and, trust me, we couldn’t have lived without it. Crimping irons came later, too, as well as the glorious scrunchie – a scrunched up fabric thingy with a rubber band inside. If you put your hair into a ponytail, you HAD to do it with a scrunchie. Getting your hair permed was a big thing, too, which meant we saw a lot of frizzy looks. All in all, it was a decadent decade and our hair was an extension of that. Sad, really. Let’s get to the Nineties.
1990s – The decade started out with the slow decline of big hair. Though still kept alive by the ‘Super Model’ era – a time when Cindy Crawford graced every magazine cover imaginable, the look grew softer and sexier. Then a radical shift took place. Remember Farrah Fawcett’s impact in the Seventies? Well meet Jennifer Aniston, a.k.a. ‘Rachel’ from the hit TV series Friends. When the show came out in 1994, everyone went screaming into their hair salons to get some version of the cut. Okay, maybe not everyone, but at least 99.98% of the population. This lead to smoother looks with longer layers surrounding the face whether hair was long or short. Actress Meg Ryan also played a role, adding some short, choppy style to the hair equation.
2000s - Hmmm….the 2000s. What can I say? There was a lot of different hair out there. Teen girls tended to slowly go back to the longer, straighter looks of the early Seventies. Plus we can’t forget the genesis of the whole pony tail/rubber band head business we still have today. The flat iron became the hair tool du ‘jour, which aided the trend toward sleek looks. Women also leaned toward sleeker looks. Permed hair became much less common. Frizzy hair? A thing of the past. Plenty of short dos also emerged, some of them pretty spikey. All in all, it was a toned down decade, which suited everyone fine.
So there you have it, my personally compiled history of hair. I hope you enjoyed the good, the bad, as well as the ugly. I wonder where we’re headed next.
Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
- Oscar Wilde
Not that we realize it at the time, though. How else can you explain our continued, though seriously waning, dedication to Crocs? Through the ages, women have been willingly brain-washed into wearing a variety of en vogue fashions, however beautiful or fugly they are. This blog is dedicated in memory of them.
Now before I begin, I must explain to you that although I’ve received a bit of help compiling the following facts, I still feel as though I have yet to fully explore and understand all that fashion offered us over the years. So if your grandma or much-younger-and-cooler-than-your-mother aunt read this and feel I’ve left something important out, contact me and I’ll update this post to make up for my gross negligence.
With that said, I introduce you to:
THROUGH THE AGES: FASHION
Okay, so teenagers didn’t really wear these. They wore what most kids did -- the clothes their mothers made for them. No, not ALL their clothes, but fashions were primarily dictated by what people could make with a Singer sewing machine and a yard or two of fabric. For girls, that meant dresses, skirts and blouses, all simple in construction. But then the flapper dress entered the picture. Yep, that straight-up-and-down mini-dress you see in old movies where people are dancing the Charleston. In 1926, this dress was not only easy to sew, but fashionable. Suddenly, the ability to be stylish wasn’t relegated to the rich. All a woman had to do was whip up the dress, cut her hair short and sleek, then smash her b00bs down so they were as flat as a plasma screen TV. That’s right. You heard me -tatas were OUT. I knew I was born in the wrong decade. Thus the beginning of fashion for the masses, though there were a few bumps along the way…
Um, excuse me. Did you know the country went through a major depression? Some even called it “Great.” I found this obscure fact during my research. It started in 1929 and lasted a long, long time. Anyway, the Thirties weren’t very good years for fashion. Though the ready-to-wear industry was staring to take off, what little money people had was spent on food, not on looking like Greta Garbo. But those with money did follow the shift toward a curvier look due, in part, to the introduction of the zipper. Girls continued to wear dresses or blouse/skirt combos that usually hit mid-calf. They paired them with simple leather shoes and ankle socks, a trend that carried over into the forties.
Whew! So glad to stop writing about the depression. Wait a second... WHAT? We were in a WAR? Those poor fashionistas. They were so ready for a comback. Instead, gone were silk blouses – the fabric went to make parachutes. Wool? Uniforms and blankets for soldiers. So unfair. In an effort to conserve fabric, hemlines rose to just below the knee (scandal!), and skirts were more form-fitting, with fewer gathers and pleats. Jackets were also shorter and more fitted. Clothes also looked more masculine – check out those shoulders! - since many men were gone at war, leaving the women to work their jobs. Imagine that, women doing men’s work. It’s a wonder they survived. As for girls? Sweaters finally became major players. Oversized ones were often worn with - you guessed it - skirts.
Okay, now things start to get more interesting. With no depression or war to hinder fashion, more stylish looks prevailed. No, girls didn’t wear pants to school yet. They still wore skirts, full or pleated. A famous one? The poodle skirt. Not all had poodle appliqués, though. Some featurened music notes or records. (You know, those black, oversized CD-like things they had back in the day. God, I feel old.) White bobby socks with buckskin or saddle shoes were often worn. Sweater sets and blouses were common tops. As for pants, they started wearing them a bit more outside of school. As for jeans? Not so much. Known as ‘dungarees,' they were reserved for lounging around.
When you think of the Sixties, you think of crazy, far-out clothes, right? Well, actually, that was the Seventies. Well, I’ll give you ’68 and ‘69. Clothes did start to get more colorful, though. However, girls STILL wore skirts to school and, once again, usually below the knee. Not that hemlines didn’t start to rise, they were just considered casual wear. Instead of bobby socks, they went with knee-his. Jeans started becoming more acceptable, though only for casual events. Out to dinner and a movie? No way. Kids favored hip hugging, low slung jeans with wide belts in different colors. Near the end of the decade, we started to see bell bottoms. Then the wackiness began.
Talk about groovy. Upset with ‘the man’ and the Vietnam War, teenagers used clothing to express their rebellion. Known for wild colors and patterns, the seventies gave us tie-dye t-shirts, the peasant look, and hot pants. (The latter was a “must have” for the disco dancing set.) As for skirts, they skipped the knees all together, pushing minis to the max. They also had maxis that went clear to the ankles. Later on we saw tube tops, too. Trust me, the guys really liked this decade. As for school? Girls finally wore pants and jeans, both of which were bell bottoms. Take that, oppressive school system! However, most jeans manufacturers still focused on boys so many girls wore boy’s jeans. Yes, it's sad. But don’t you worry, girls get their due….
This was my decade, as well as most of your parents, so I’ll say a lille more on this one. I briefly remember a painter’s pants fascination before going straight into the preppy look. Monogrammed sweaters with your initials, IZOD polo shirts in every color (collars flipped up, of course), plus a nautical obsession - particularly with whales? – featuring boat shoes and boat neck shirts. Remember the whole ‘boy jean’ issue? Well in the Eighties, girls’ designer jeans took the world by storm. Calvin Klein, Jordache, and Gloria Vanderbilt to name a few. You were the jeans you wore.
The advent of movie “Flashdance” in 1983 had us all wearing leggings and legwarmers, plus big sweatshirts that hung off the shoulder. In September of 1985, Madonna blew the world away with her trashy, see-through lacy shirt, bra and lycra skirt style, making even the cutest nine year-old girls look like prostitutes. Plus there were shoulder pads -- lots of shoulder pads -- and stirrup pants. Crop tops and neon clothing had their day in the sun, as well. Never had there been a decade so decadent, which leads us to the nineties…
Talk about a backlash! I’ll be honest, like most of your moms, these were baby-making years. Most of us had NO FASHION SENSE AT ALL. We were just happy when we could get our butts back into a pair of jeans after losing the baby weight. From what I hear, though, we didn’t miss a thing. Sick of the over-the-top Eighties mentality, the Grunge look emerged. Torn jeans, t-shirts and flannel shirts told the world teens no longer cared. Which they didn’t, until the movie “Clueless” came out in the summer of 1985. Suddenly, it was all about baby doll dresses, slip dresses worn over t-shirts, and thigh-high stockings. For the hip hop set, track suits and Starter jackets were on the scene, making way for those jeans -- those big, baggy jeans….
Remember how I said I hate butt cracks? Well, it started out with underwear. The hip hop set started wearing their jeans so baggy and low, their underwear was always exposed. Gross. But how does that relate to teen girls? Well, the dorks running the fashion industry took the cue and started designing jeans with waists so low…well, you know where I’m going with this. Hip hop did inspire hoodies, though, so it ain’t all bad. With the 2000s, came the advent of layering shirts. Heaven forbid you just wear one shirt at a time. Plus, like jeans in the eighties, kids got label conscious with tops. In alphabetical order (don’t want to show favoritism) we were introduced to Abercrombie and Fitch, Aeropostale, American Eagle and Hollister. If you didn’t have one of their logos on your chest, go home. Sad really.
So there you have it. Did I miss anything? Seriously let me know. As for how to end this post? I’ll make just one more plea:
Just say ‘no’ to butt cracks!
Now go in peace.
After my heart-felt confession on my own past crushes
(don’t you dare
tell anyone about that pink satin jacket), I thought you might be curious about teen idols over the years. Below I’ve listed a few. Keep in mind, however, this doesn’t even come CLOSE to a comprehensive list. So if your grandma peeks over your shoulder and says, “Where’s Ricky Nelson?” just shrug your shoulders and say, “Don’t ask me. I
didn’tmake the list.” Then refuse to show her how to contact me. Like I need a bunch of old ladies giving me the business. Sheesh.
Anyway, here it goes:
TEEN IDOLS THROUGH
1940 - Frank Sinatra
On July 20 , 1940, Billboard magazine published its first “Music Popularity Chart,” and who better to top it than the man many call the first of the true teen idols.
Hailing from Hoboken, New Jersey, Ol’ Blue Eyes made ‘bobby soxers’ swoon with such hits as “I’ll Never Smile Again” and “My Funny Valentine.” His career stalled in 1950, but then he made a comeback – a HUGE comeback, like winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the blockbuster From Here to Eternity. Thank goodness for that. The resurgence of his career brought such classics as “The Way You Look Tonight”, “Fly Me to the Moon,” and “My Way.” More importantly, impersonations of him spawned some hilarious skits on Saturday Night Live decades later. Imitation may not always be the sincerest form of flattery, but it can sure be freakin’ hilarious.
1956 – Elvis Presley
This Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love made his big mark this year, topping the record charts with such hits as, “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Heart Break Hotel” and “Hound Dog.” Nicknamed “Elvis the Pelvis,” his swinging hips threw young girls in a tizzy, leading to his now famous “waist up only” appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Elvis went on to produce a mind-blowing 114 top 100 hits, including eighteen that went to #1. He also starred in 33 movies, to the delight of teenyboppers everywhere.
Though it’s been over fifty years since Elvis first came on the scene, the love for him has never died for many - even when they found him dead on his toilet on August 16, 1977 after a prescription drug overdose. Not very sexy, but we’ll forgive him. After all, he is ‘The King.” Is it any wonder he died on the throne?
1964 – The Beatles
What’s better than one teen idol? Four of them, neatly packaged and talented beyond belief. On February 9th, with some 73 million people watching, The Fab Four took America by storm, singing “Close Your Eyes and I’ll Kiss You…Tomorrow I’ll Miss You” on the Ed Sullivan Show. Teenaged girls never had a chance.
John, Paul, George and Ringo not only looked the part, they had killer accents, too. Hailing from Liverpool, England, the band can be credited with starting the British Invasion, leading the way for other British bands like the Rolling Stones, The Who and The Kinks.
When the band broke up in 1970, many hearts were broken, too. Hope for a reunion was kept alive for ten years until all was lost on December 8, 1979. As he was returning from the music studio, John Lennon was murdered in front of his New York residence.
Despite John’s death, the Beatles music lives on. Hits like “Hey Jude,” “Let it Be,” and “Imagine” still get regular radio play. So how many albums have they sold? Believe it or not, so many that it’s hard to count. Some estimates put them over one billion songs worldwide. I bet you could buy a lot of yellow submarines from that royalty check.
1970 – David Cassidy
Ah, yes, it’s in the jeans – Oops! I mean genes. Yes, David is the older half-brother of the boy who made my heart flutter, Shaun Cassidy. Known best as Keith Partridge from the Partridge Family television show (1970-1974), he sung his way into the hearts of teen girls across America, instead of lip-synching like his other TV brothers and sisters.
Unfortunately, the ‘bubblegum pop’ he sang for the show, like “I Think I Love You” and “Come On Get Happy,” didn’t make him happy at all. He wanted to sing hard rock. Who better to tell that to? Rolling Stone magazine. Not only did he talk about sex and drugs, he posed semi-nude on the cover (which was pretty heavy on the armpit hair, I might add). The end result: a 38% drop in his show’s audience. Good bye Partridges.
Never fear, his singing career remained intact – in Great Britain and Germany. As for the United States? Auf Wiedersen, baby.
1975 - John Travolta
Meet Vinnie Barbarino, leader of the Sweathogs. Sound like a hottie? No. But his looks? As his character used to say, “Whoa!” His feathery black hair and big blue eyes made the TV show, Welcome Back Kotter, a bonafide hit. After that he put the ‘move’ in ‘movies’, dancing his way through the classic hits, “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever.” Welcome to super stardom, baby.
His career took a teeny break (just fifteen years or so) until his role as a flabby, not-so-smart hit man in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” put him back in the limelight. He’s been there ever since.
1988 – New Kids on the Block
It all had to start somewhere, didn’t it? When Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood, and Jordan and Jonathan Knight got together, the first official boy band was born. You might say, but what about the Beatles or the Jackson 5? Weren’t they boy bands, too? Well, sure they were boys and had bands….oh, just trust me. It’s not the same. Boy bands don’t just sing, they dance. Do they play instruments? Um, excuse me. Did I not just say that they dance? Plus they all have distinctive personalities designed to target a variety of specific tastes in the teen market. You’ve got the rebel, the sweet one, the goofy-but-cute one – getting the picture yet?
Still, there is much to love about boy bands. Watching a bunch of guys strut their stuff in unison? Not bad eye candy. And with songs like “Hangin’ Tough”, and “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” The New Kids made for quite a show.
1997 – Boy Bands, revisited
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Who cares? The bigger question is: who came first, The Back Street Boys or N’Sync?
They both blew on the scene around the same time but, hey, no problem. Girls have big hearts. There was plenty of room for both. The Back Street Boys made girls giddy with “I Want it That Way” and “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely,” while N’Sync wooed them with “Bye, Bye, Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me.”
So which band was better and cuter? Pick a side. I dare you. As to who came first? I’m going to give it to N’Sync. It may not be true, but they gave us Justin Timberlake, and for that we must all be thankful.
2006 - Zac Efron
Though still a prominent player in today’s teen idol game, there was nothing like 2006. Thanks to a little known movie called High School Musical, he zoomed up to #4 on the IMDBPRO’s STARmeter fast than a squirrel up a tree. A cute squirrel, that is - really, really cute.
Unlike most of the cast, he’s gone on to create an identity separate from his High School days, starring in movies like Hairspray and 17 Again. Seems like girls just can’t get enough of those dancing blue eyes and golden locks. And did you see that Rolling Stone cover? Take notes, David Cassidy.This guy knows how it’s done.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN…
So tell me, who’s your favorite idol? Pattison? Bieber? Maybe a Jonas? You can't forget Mr. Abs, Taylor Lautner. As for me, I’ll stick to George Clooney and Brad Pitt set. They may seem crusty to you, but I’m…well, I’m a mom. And be honest, wouldn’t it be gross if I confessed a crush on Chase Crawford?