It all started when I took my 13 year old daughter back-to-school shopping a couple of months back. She was on a mission to find a pair of “Mom Jeans”. (Yes, they’re really labeled as such). According to my daughter, all the girls on YouTube are wearing this style of jean. My 13 year old wants to wear “Mom Jeans”?
As we were searching for the jeans, it became apparent to me that the trends of the 90s are making a serious comeback at the moment. You see, I was a teen in the 90s, so I’d recognize that hideous fashion from a mile away. I mean, they’re slightly modified to the current generations’ liking, but the 90s are BACK nonetheless. To my surprise, my daughter also kept reaching for the brands that I rocked back in the day. I’m talking Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Champion, Levi’s, and stuff like that. Of course, my little fashionista insisted that they be “the vintage ones”. When I look at old pictures of myself in the 90s, I say to myself, “What the hell was I thinking?!” Why would kids these days want to wear this stuff?
I apologize for going on a fashion tangent, but there was just something about our shopping trip that plunged me into an intense enthusiastic nostalgia. I desperately wished that we could put down our iPhones and have Doc put us in a time machine and send us back to the 90s for a day.
In case you’ve been living under a rock or you’re a youngin’, the 90s was the last great decade before the big cellphone boom. I still remember sitting in the living room talking to my friends on a landline phone (that I was forced to share with my family) and stretching that damn cord as far as possible just to get a little bit of privacy until we finally got a cordless phone. Having to share the home phone with your parents was an absolute nightmare. I know, first-world problems, right?
Being a teenager in the decade before technology
spoiled and ruined us took over got me thinking about a lot of things. Like, how we ever survived without smart phones, but how good we actually had it without them – we lived entirely in the now and there were definitely a lot less egos (we grew up without profiles, likes, and bathroom mirror pictures). The Internet was a mere baby and computers were still just a tool, not our whole existence, so we actually paid attention to each other. With such little technology, we were free. Now, it doesn’t matter where we are, we’re bombarded with every kind of messaging imaginable. Back in my days, we weren’t looking up useless facts on our smart phone to kill time or to avoid conversation, and we certainly weren’t live streaming ourselves brushing our teeth in the morning.
The 90s was a time of making real friends and making connections with real people in the real world, not the virtual one. Our social time involved time spent at the mall, the movie theater, or driving around to all the local hangout spots to see who we could run into. Basically, humanity and technology were in perfect balance – it was the peaceful calm before the Millennial storm.
Every generation thinks that the years of their adolescence and early adulthood was the best. Yeah, there are plenty of perks of the modern era, but damn, life sure was good in the 90s. (One thing the 90s can keep is dial-up, though.) Dial-up aside, I can’t help but be a little biased when I say that there was absolutely no better time period to be an adolescent than in the 1990s – we communicated face-to-face, television was at its peak (Hello, shows like Saved by the Bell, Friends, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Beverly Hills 90210), Destiny’s child was still together, that petulant man-child was not in office, and we even memorized each other’s phone numbers. Does anyone remember numbers apart from their own mobile phones these days? As if! The 90s were just better in every category – from the music, the video games, the films, the booming economy, and best of all, terrorism wasn’t a major concern yet. In other words, the 90s were ALL THAT!
…It was the peaceful calm before the Millennial storm.
For those of us who were lucky enough to be teens in the 1990s, it’s hard to believe those years were two decades ago. In fact, I just happened to attend (and planned) my 20 year high school reunion (Yes, I just dated myself, and IDGAF), so I’m having some pretty deep feels at the moment. Shout-out to the class of 1997! So, please excuse me as I take a walk down memory lane and reminisce about the most trend-setting decade of our time – I sure hope that I can cause you to have some major 90s flashbacks and make you miss the times when life was simple. In honor of receiving my high school diploma 20 years ago and my daughter’s appreciation of 90s fashion, here are 20 reasons why being a teenager in the 90s was the shiznit…
1. Technology didn’t rule our childhood
To begin with, no one was glued to a handheld screen in the 90s. My generation spent a lot more time using our imagination, we played outside until the street lights came on, we rode bikes and scooters that weren’t motorized, and actually had real conversations over the phone rather than communicating via emojis and memes. Nowadays instead of playing outside, kids are kept inside submerged in technology. 2. Prank calls
Without caller ID, we enjoyed the joys of a prank calling our frenemies at sleepovers, and they never knew it was us. Good times.
3. Our writing skills were on point
We actually had to hand write things sans Spellcheck or Autocorrect – we had all the correct spelling of words locked in our little memories. Kids these day are lazy AF (see what I did there) and write everything in acronyms or abbreviations. Case in point: my then 12 year old daughter texting me from a sleepover. (That reads good night, I love you too, in case you were wondering). I’m an English Language Arts teacher, so this kind of spelling just irks me sometimes.
4. So were our geography skills
In order to reach our destination, we had to learn how to read a map and know all of our cardinal directions. We didn’t have the luxury of having a GPS or an automated voice telling us which way to turn.
5. The slang was all that and a bag of chips
The 90s were full of great catchphrases.
6. Listening to the radio and recording your favorite songs off the radio, and feeling like a winner if you managed to cut out the DJ.
This was real skill. Before things like Shazam and Spotify ruled the music world, we had to actually wait for the DJ to announce the name and artist of a song, and we had to buy the entire album even if we only wanted one song on it.
7. MTV was actually Music TV
Speaking of MTV, they have this new reality show called 90’s House. It’s a “competition show that places 12 millennial housemates in a 90’s inspired house and forces the young adults to officially unplug their modern-day devices and party like it’s 1990. With only the technology, catch phrases and fashion from that decade, each episode opponents will face elimination by competing in various 90’s themed challenges. The raddest contestant will win $90K, a Mazda Miata and tickets for two on board the Ship-Hop I Love the 90’s Cruise”. Sign me up!
8. Calling a service number and speaking to a human being!
Now it’s just robots for days.
9. No one took selfies
I’m so glad our generation wasn’t filled with self-absorbed narcissists. Except for maybe Cher – she was a little too extra.
10. No cyber bullying
Bullying was definitely happening in the 90s, but what happened on the playground stayed on the playground. If you were bullied in school you could go home and get away from it (until tomorrow). Nowadays, the peer torment sadly does not end for teens when they enter the comfort of their homes.
11. Back when TGIF was our only acronym
We could actually enjoy nice, wholesome family friendly television back in the 90s thanks to the Friday night line up known as TGIF. These shows had plenty of humor, but they had a purpose and a message, and a life lesson takeaway. They were rarely edgy, but they were simply the best. Oh, and there were no spoilers: We had to wait an entire week to see what happened next to our beloved characters.
12. Less labels on children
ADHD and similar labels weren’t overly diagnosed – active kids were reprimanded, not pandered to or
13. Passing notes in class
Passing notes was the original text messaging. We experienced the exhilarating excitement of folding notes and passing them behind our teacher’s back. There is no more of that, thanks to text messaging and Snapchat. My daughter and this whole new phenomenon known as snapping is just mind boggling. Like, do your friends really need to see 29 pictures of your forehead while we’re watching TV or when we’re driving down the road? I digress.
14. Love songs
Hands down, the 90s had some of the best music of all time. Don’t even get me started on the ratchet music teens listen to these days… or I’ll sound like my mother. Again, I could be biased, but the music of today just doesn’t captivate all of my senses and my emotions the way the 90s music did. Boys II mother f-ing Men. Need I say more?
15. Social media didn’t exist
All I can say is, thank👏the 👏Lord that social media was not a thing in the 90s. Unlike today’s generation of teenagers and young adults, we had the privilege of getting into mischief without the fear of being recorded and worrying about our shenanigans coming back to haunt us once we grew up. We weren’t busy focusing on our feeds, constantly checking up on our friends or complete strangers, and comparing every aspect of our life with everyone else’s.
16. The pics were much more spontaneous and real, complete with people’s eyes closed and such.
We didn’t think about which filter would enhance our beauty, because back in the day, we actually had to take the film from our camera to be developed, praying that it wouldn’t be damaged with a real filter across our faces. We only had one shot – a picture would be taken, and you didn’t know how it would turn out until the event was over and done with. Unlike today, where your girlfriends retake the picture five times before uploading to all relevant social media, adding an exciting caption – but not before editing it to death!
17. We lived in the moment
Our cameras (with film) might have captured the moment now and then, but most of the time we were too busy actually living our lives rather than being consumed with documenting every single (non) event and boring the rest of the world with it.
18. No one was trying to get their 15 minutes of fame, trying to go viral, or trying to be on the next reality show or a famous YouTuber.
19. All the trends, the crazes, and the fads
Bleached hair, scrunchies, silver eyeliner, the Macarena, Beanie Babies, fanny packs, body glitter, Troll Dolls, Lisa Frank school supplies, overalls (preferably with one strap hanging down), Tamagotchis, chokers, and even the Mom Jean, just to name a few. God bless the 90s! 😭
20. Did I mention that Donald Trump was not president?
He was just a douchey millionaire at that time. Now he’s a douchey millionaire running the free world.
Even though I used to think there would be no way in hell this decade would ever come back in style, I now realize that being a 90s teen was actually pretty chill. Except the fashion – I’d definitely give it to the teens of today. (When they’re not trying to copy the 90s, of course.) There are plenty of other things that I could’ve added, but I think my heart might just explode with neon glitter if I keep on going. If my list didn’t cause you to have some serious 90s nostalgia, you can talk to the hand, because the face ain’t listening! (Don’t call it a comeback.)
Ahh, cherish the mems.