As American culture gets more strange, people’s ideas about what is attractive get more and more strange too. A couple of hours at the Maine Mall last week depressed me as I looked around at people and mannequins. Sloppy is popular. People go to great pains to look unkempt. They put enormous time, money, and effort into trying to appear as though they don’t care how they look. It’s oxymoronic. Jeans and hats look worn out, but they’re for sale. Trendy stores sell clothing that would be rejected at the Salvation Army or Goodwill thrift stores, but they’re expensive at the GAP.
Mannequins I saw there appeared unfinished. It was as if clerks started to put clothing on them but got called away before they had time to button the shirt or tie the laces. The jeans had patches in them - crudely sewn at that. It’s fashionable to look like you don’t care how you look, but yet it’s obvious that the mall rats who dressed just like the mannequins cared very much about trying to look that way. They were posing just as the mannequins were too. The mall rats moved around, but might otherwise be mistaken for the headless plastic models.
Hairstyles followed similar themes. Men, if one could call them that, stood around with affected carelessness. It seemed their intention was to look like they didn’t have time to comb their hair after getting out of bed. They had put some kind of stuff in it to make parts stand out perpendicular to their scalp, while other parts stuck out at different angles. Many kept their pants down below their butts as well. I’d hoped that trend would have died out by now, but no. On it goes.
Dye-jobs, tattoos and metal stuck in faces abounded. I wrote about this in a column called “Skin Graffiti” last year. It annoyed the pierced and tattooed around the world for months as one can read in the comments that followed. If you’re seeing this in a newspaper, they can be found here:
Speaking of which, there have been some bizarre stories of botched plastic surgeries in the news lately. A woman in Miami impersonated a plastic surgeon and was arrested after she had injected “fix-a-flat” substance into the face of another woman. You know that substance you can buy in a pressure can for $5.00 at the auto parts store that will plug the hole in a flat tire and inflate it as well? That’s the stuff. The “patient” ended up with bubbles in her cheeks. The “doctor” had also injected fix-a-flat mixed with cement into her own butt, presumably to make herself look attractive. How did she look? Just as if she’d injected tire inflator into her butt, that’s how. She must have thought “buns of cement” would be a less strenuous alternative to “buns of steel.” The arrest photo showed her dressed in stretch pants and a stretchy pullover - items she’s going to have to stock up on in her wardrobe from now on.
A young man in New Jersey had silicone injected into his penis by a woman in New Jersey who was also pretending to be a doctor. He later died of a blood clot and the woman was arrested for manslaughter. It’s hard to believe someone would be dumb enough to seek out that kind of service. Thinking about it though, it’s a relatively short step from getting pierced or getting dye injected for tattoos. I’ve heard that many have had these things done to intimate parts of their bodies. To a narcissist, silicone breast implants to silicone penis injections would seem a short step too.
All this makes me think I’m fortunate to have been born before the 1960s. Though I lived through them and their aftermath, I can still remember what it was like before that awful decade, and can hold out hope that someday we’ll overcome the insanity it catalyzed.