Side Parts and Skinny Jeans: We Were Never Going to Be Cool to Gen Z

Because I’ve been in quarantine for a year and spend way too much time on the internet, I’ve seen a lot of posts about how Gen Z apparently thinks Millennials are terminally uncool because we wear skinny jeans and part our hair on the side. While part of me has “now listen here, you little shit,” energy, the rest of me finds it hilarious because as someone who grew up in the 90s, I have a lot of photos of me wearing baggy jeans while rocking a very unflattering center part, not to mention this gem:

Not pictured: my huge, round Harry Potter glasses I wore until 7th grade.

If Millennials are honest, Gen Z was always going to think we’re uncool. One, because everyone else hates us so why not Gen Z, and two, because younger generations generally view their elders as being outdated and a little embarrassing. I’ve gone through old family photo albums to see photos of my uncle in four color velvet bellbottoms and my aunt’s bridesmaids wore renaissance dresses because her theme was Romeo and Juliet. When I brought this up to my aunt once, she told me whatever the polite version of “shut your whore mouth” is.

Another reason I’m not entirely surprised that Gen Z thinks we’re uncool is because I spent my early twenties working as a nanny. I loved that job because the kid was (and still is) amazing, the family was wonderful, I got to travel internationally with them, and to date it is the only job I’ve ever had that provided me health insurance.

The service industry insurance plan is basically “I don’t care if you’re puking, work your shift or you’re fired.”

Once, I was traveling abroad with the family and in the morning, I got the kid ready before I got dressed for the day. On that particular day, they, age three, wanted a fancy hairstyle that involved multiple headbands and clips and at least four ponytails, and they picked out a really cute outfit to boot. As soon as I finished getting them ready, they were admiring themself in the mirror when they saw me standing behind them, still wearing my pajamas.

“Is that what you’re wearing?” they asked.

The whole incident was hilarious to me at the time (still is) and it set my standards low for how cool I’d be seen by younger generations (as if the aforementioned magician cape and hat hadn’t already done that).

My favorite thing about the whole Gen Z vs. Millennials in the war over side parts and skinny jeans is the volume of nostalgic photos that have been shared on social media as part of Millennials’ response to show the younger kids that we have already made those particular mistakes.

The fact that Google said “vintage girl” is a related search term when I found this photo makes me want to punch walls like a white dude.

Of all the things to come at Millennials for, I feel like side parts and skinny jeans are only scratching the surface. We legitimately thought inflatable furniture in the house was a great idea because the future is now or some shit, I don’t know. For god’s sake, my husband, Jon, had a chain wallet with blue flames on it until after we were married–in 2011.

I don’t have room to talk, though–part of me is still convinced I can make a dress with jeans work.

One recurring thing I’ve seen in a a lot of the photo responses Millennials have been posting to show Gen Z that we’ve always been weird is the celebrity photo collages on bedroom walls.

I was not exempt from this because I, too, tore pictures out of Tiger Beat and plastered them on my walls. In particular, I was a fan of the Got Milk? ads from the 90s and covered a wall with those. This was, of course, before I turned into a raging socialist and who wants to destroy capitalism, but I digress. In retrospect, I’m a little creeped out by the way we all collectively covered our walls in celebrity faces and it was seen as normal and not like aspiring stalkers. I was once friends with a girl who plastered her walls with celebrities to an almost obsessive degree–she memorized everything she could about them–and those guys were “hers” which at the time was whatever, but in retrospect is a little unsettling. There’s being a fan, and then there’s attempting to assassinate the president to impress Jodie Foster. I’m sure there’s a commentary in there about the way we fixate on celebrities in our culture, but I’m pretty sure Eminem already covered that in “Stan” (which by the way, Gen Z, is where the term “stan” comes from).

As far as I know, this girl grew into a functional human who is not collecting toenail clippings from Jake Gyllenhaal’s trash can, so overall it was harmless, if a little bit concerning in hindsight.

Millennials, Gen Z was never going to find us cool. We’ve gotten to the point where we’re the lame adults who are killing everyone’s good time just by being there. This was always going to be our lot in life with them and the sooner we accept it, the easier it’ll be on all of us. I know it’s tempting to lecture them, but keep in mind this is the generation that ate Tide pods–some things just sort themselves out. Besides, climate change is going to fuck us all, so maybe it’s not worth it to fight over where we’re parting our hair when we’re all eventually going to dress like this in our Mad Max post-apocalyptic wasteland:

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