In the year 1997, a measly seventeen years ago, it would be considered taboo, or downright blasphemy, to wear a sweater adorned with crosses. Tattoos were reserved for the manliest of men, and piercings on the face were unheard of. Dying your hair bright red was social suicide. So why are these trends in full swing in this day and age? More importantly, why are they such a drastic change from the previous ones?

Violet Romer in flapper dress, cerca between 1910 and 1915. Photo from Wikimedia

An easy comparison to this change is that of America in the 1920s. “The New Era,” the historians called it. It was a gilded age where, as stated by F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, “gin was the national drink and sex was the national obsession.” It was a decade of decadence, soon to be broken by the infamous Great Depression, but the unaware citizens of the United States could only marvel at how favor had smiled upon their nation.

This age also held one of the biggest social revolutions in American history, beginning with the iconic flapper. The flapper was a woman who showed incredible bravery in a male dominated world. She cut her hair short, drank and smoked, danced and voted. These new qualities of women shattered the traditional matronly image set by society.

After an era of intense progressive politics, the nation was, to put it simply, tired. The culture of the 1920s, much like today, was recklessly spearheaded by a rebellious youth that had had enough of the moral restrictions set by previous generations. The young were tired of being restrained by the old, tired of being constrained by the ancient rules of a pressuring society. Their battle can be seen today, on just about any website or in any magazine.

The teen culture today is currently in a revolution in which it is breaking away from the same rules that have tied it down for so long. Take a look at our fashion, for example. Girls dye their hair in neon reds and blues, and people pierce their tongues, cheeks, eyebrows and noses. Crowds of teens flock to tattoo parlors so that art can be scribbled onto their bodies, and gone are the days of ankle-length skirts. We have leggings with cats printed on them, and sweaters with the words “I really don’t care at all” stitched into them. Youth today have indulged in the basic instinct that if you want to truly change, then your image is a good place to start.

Teens have also embraced the attitude adjustment that the flappers did in the New Era. We’ve rejected the common teaching that “good things come to those who wait,” and have replaced it with our new philosophy that “good things come to those who work for it.” Everything from music to literature has changed with us. We are no longer “The Jazz Age,” but rather a generation living for the pulsing beat of a DJ in a booth at a crowded venue. Our literature ranges from love stories about cancer patients to children slaughtering each other in an arena for sport.

Our generation is known to be overly optimistic, coddled, and pragmatic, but these are not bad qualities to have. In a generation where technology is rapidly changing and evolving, it only makes sense that we do the same. We are a creative, cunning, curious generation, and we’ve got what it takes to stick around a few more years.

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