Picture this: It’s Thanksgiving. You’re having the whole crew for dinner. In slinks your teenage granddaughter and whoa — two shades of purple lipstick on her pout? Black nailpolish? Gray eyeshadow? She used to be so sugar-and-spice and all things pink. Now, the phrase circus freak comes to mind. What happened?
Before you call the psych ward, take a deep breath. Most likely, your granddaughter is perfectly fine. And sane. Sure, her eyes may be barely visible beneath that thick, black liner; but, she’s probably just trying to emulate her favorite celeb or musician.
There’s a new crop of kids sporting funky, punky looks thanks to the recent resurgence of pop-punk music dubbed “Emo” for its heartfelt, introspective, and yep, emotional (get it?) style, explains teen culture guru Leslie Simon, who, with Trevor Kelley penned Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture (Harper Paperbacks, 2007). Bands like Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy (call 'em F.O.B — that’s "eff-oh-bee", not "fob") and My Chemical Romance (My Chem, for short) have led the charge, popularizing a style marked by tight, skinny jeans; black hoodies; heavy eyeliner; and — for some of the girls —makeup that looks as though it was applied by a gloomy, manic-depressive Rainbow Brite.
“Emo kids basically just want to look like the singer of their favorite band. They’re harmless,” says Simon. “Their style may look odd, but that’s what’s in right now. It’s all about self-expression.”
Style experimentation — and emulation — is nothing new to the teen set. Today’s emo kids are the hippies of the 60s, or the grunge gang of the early 90s: A subculture of curious youth letting their music guide their style choices — as eccentric or dark as they may appear.
“Teens seem to realize more than adults that makeup is as much an accessory as a cool pair of shoes. And, they’re not afraid to try something wild,” says Emily Kate Warren, associate beauty and fitness editor at CosmoGIRL!magazine. “For them, makeup is a form of expression, just like clothing.”
Chances are, beneath that doomsday look, your granddaughter is still the wholesome, sweet girl you know. She’s just growing up. Don’t let her new look create distance between the two of you. Add a My Chem song to your iPod. Listen to the lyrics to hear for yourself the kinds of issues with which your granddaughter’s grappling. Or, take her makeup shopping and let her do you over in her style. Who knows, maybe the black eyeliner and skinny jeans will look as good on you now as powder blue eye shadow and polyester bellbottoms did back in the 70s.
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.