I had an interesting conversation over dinner the other night with the teenagers. K wasn’t there, which has no bearing on the conversation – we chat even if there is only 2 of us eating – I am just setting the scene.
A started it off when she complained that a couple of boys in her form are always doing polls on Instagram asking if they should buy X expensive jumper or Y expensive jumper. “They’re just showing off that they have loads of money”, was her main gripe. I asked if they thought that their generation are more concerned with money and belongings than perhaps my generation (of old fogeys). They thought that perhaps they were more materialistic, but only because they have it rammed down their throats by social media, the press, companies aiming their products at the youth/teen market.
We talked about their own motives for buying, say, an item of clothing. T is into designer labels but is happy to buy replica/fake/unbranded stuff that looks like the real deal. A is happy with a bag full of cheap stuff from Primark (something that I had no issue with until I saw Stacey Dooley’s documentary about the pollution caused by companies like this) rather than spending the same amount on one item from a higher end shop.
They both agreed that their motives were the same: wearing something that they liked and had spent their own money on made them feel good. I asked T if the designer brand thing was due to wanting others to say “oh nice jumper” or if he just liked the clothes. He said that it was because he liked the clothes, but it was a bonus if someone commented on it. A was the same, saying that she liked to wear a new t shirt or top, for example on Non- uniform days, whereas some people wore the same thing every time “just because it’s a designer brand. I would rather wear something new that cost a fiver than wear the same £50 top all the time”.
We talked about the pitfalls of buying something to make you feel better or to improve your mood, because that’s only temporary and will wear off. Better to be happy with yourself and wear clothes as an extension of who you are. T said that he likes to wear stuff that other lads his age wear, as a kind of way to fit in, but that it wasn’t the main factor. He has a friend who bucks the trend and wears quite retro stuff that most lads his age wouldn’t look at. But no-one gives him a hard time, they respect his choices.
A said she likes to wear what she feels comfortable in and won’t bow to trends. She was very anti the crop top fashion when she was in Year 6 and still tends to wear slightly more conservative clothes compared to some of her peers. I have to say I am not upset about this at all!
We were just clearing the plates away when T hit the nail on the head for me and made me have a glimmer of hope that they are not lost in the sea of consumerism. “I’m not looking for approval from anyone when I buy or wear clothes. I may follow a trend but I don’t care what anyone else thinks. If someone doesn’t like my trainers or my jumper I am not going to stop wearing it. It’s their opinion and they are welcome to it but I will wear what I want to wear.” A wholeheartedly agreed. And this makes me happy.
In the same sort of vein, I’ve had a gripe myself this week. I normally listen to Radio 2 in the morning until lunchtime, but today I had to switch off. In the run up to Children In Need (a fantastic thing, which is to be hugely applauded) Chris Evans runs a series of Auctions for various events and, again, this is to be applauded. But, the bidding on these auctions reaches far beyond anything that the Average Joe could afford and I get a little bit frustrated by it. I know that making money is the aim of this, and I know that the more money they make then all the better for all the charities supported by Children In Need and it is fantastic that there are so many incredibly generous wealthy people out there.
But, the notion that someone could scrape together £10, £20, £30 and call through to bid on one of these “lots” only to hear that the top bidder is in excess of £10,000 must be terribly disheartening. To know that you don’t stand any chance of getting tickets because you do not have the kind of money that is being pledged is quite sad. And that’s not what it is meant to be about. One comment that made me particularly cross was that people should not “try and get tickets on the cheap” and that being tight would come back and bite you on the bum. Is it being tight to pledge an amount that is affordable to you, and that you are willing to give up other things for in order to pledge it, just because your amount is nothing like the huge amounts of the highest bidders? No, it’s just being normal, average and giving what you can. Rant over.