How some young ladies pay for daring to be different
It seems these days that youth is not happy unless it's different, and this often includes favouring 'out there' hairstyles and modes of dress. The older generation was brought up to look and act a certain way. Today's world allows daughters a freedom of expression that their mothers never had. That does not necessarily mean that their parents agree with how the girls prefer to express themselves.
Ashleigh Mirrano is an attractive nineteen-year-old girl living with her parents in the Richmond district of Melbourne. She looked the very picture of demure young womanhood dressed in a fluffy striped sweater and a dark knee length skirt. Her long silky dark brown hair bounced on her shoulders and surrounded her face. The only thing that spoiled the image was the pout on the adolescents face.
Her mother Elizabeth, an elegant lady with stylish light brown hair and dressed in a beige business suit, explained the reason for the pout. "Ashleigh doesn't like to dress this way, do you, young lady?" Mrs. Mirrano asked. Her daughter muttered a quiet agreement.
"She's a punk," Mrs Mirrano said and produced a photograph as evidence of the statement. The girl in the picture was barely recognizable from the girl seated next to her mother. The photograph was a head and shoulders shot. Ashleigh's face was much paler and the only traces of make-up were black lipstick and the dark eyeliner around the girl's large, expressive brown eyes. It was her hair that really stood out though. It had been plastered close to her head and then sculpted into high, sharp spikes, giving the effect of some sort of bizarre crown. She was also wearing a studded leather dog collar around her neck.
"I can actually deal with the hairstyle and the make-up," the stately woman said, "even that dreadful racket she calls music. I won't allow her to wear the collar, besides the family dog felt uncomfortable without it, but they are all temporary. Why don't you tell the reporter what you did last month when I was out of town on business?"
Young Miss Mirrano rolled her eyes and emitted a put upon sigh, but did as her mother commanded. "I didn't know Mummy would be back so soon," Ashleigh said. "I decided to do something a little more permanent."
"That is one way of putting it," Mrs Mirrano took over again. "I knew she had been up to something when I called ahead to tell her I was coming home and received a startled 'Now?' from her. Initially I thought I had been mistaken, she floated down the stairs and looked exactly as she does now. But it was when she bent down to pick up my case that she slipped up. Stand up and turn around Ashleigh."
The girl obeyed, and Mrs Mirrano lifted the back of her daughter's fuzzy sweater to reveal an elaborate blue crab design tattooed on the girl's lower back. The edge of the design disappeared into the waistband of Ashleigh's skirt.
"Her sweater rode up and I saw this," an obviously affronted Elizabeth Mirrano recalled. "As she took my case up the stairs I fetched the bath brush from our bathroom and followed her. Once in my room Ashleigh received another tattoo. This one was a little lower down, completely red and it also disappeared after a day or two."
"I think of it every time I sit down," Ashleigh remembered sullenly.
Mrs Mirrano shrugged. "As I said I don't mind how she dresses or does her hair, but I will not have her permanently scarring her body for the sake of some silly fashion she will grow out of in a year or two." The younger Mirrano did obviously not agree, and there was a small sign of obvious defiance in the glossy black nail polish on her otherwise perfect hands.
All Natural Girl
"Crunchy granola girl is what we call Katie at home," Mrs Heather Armstrong related, ignoring her daughter's blush, "because she eats too much of it." Katie Armstrong, 20, bounced her naturally curly blonde hair as she protested her disagreement, adding that granola is good for you.
Mrs Armstrong rolled her brown eyes; she had obviously heard the argument many times before. "It's not just granola with Katie, it is everything! She will not eat meat, her clothing has to be completely natural and she is very careful about whether it was made using low priced labour or not. This behaviour has only worsened since she started going to college."
The University of Texas sophomore's eyes flashed and she stood up indignantly, thrusting out her impressive chest and thus bringing the message "Meat is murder!" emblazoned on her tee shirt to prominence. "This is important! Globalization is a bad thing and the large multinationals are using their influence to keep the third world nations poor. We can abolish world poverty if we - "
"Yes, yes, Katie, we have heard your little speech before, darling," Mrs Armstrong dismissed her daughter's tirade. "The problem is that I work for one of those evil multinationals."
Miss Armstrong jumped in to protest that her mother did not seem to care. Again Mrs Armstrong cut across her daughter with a steely glare and a verbal reminder. "I do care, young lady. I care about you. The wages I earn from my 'satanic' employer keep a roof over your head, they pay for the insurance on your vehicle and the petrol that fuels it. Furthermore, they pay for your college tuition and the all natural clothing that you wear, and in fact I pay for the granola bars that you consume so joyfully." An abashed Katie Armstrong lowered her eyes, unable to counter her mother's claims.
"I don't really mind that Katie is so passionate in her beliefs," Mrs Armstrong said surprisingly, "in fact I like that she thinks about things and is prepared to be vocal about what she sees as an injustice. I do however draw the line when she participates in a protest against my company that resulted in damaged property and required police assistance."
Katie blushed and looked elsewhere. "It was quite embarrassing for me personally," her mother continued, "when my Katie was in the front line of that rabble and encouraging the 'rent a protester' on. I had to take action, didn't I, dear?"
Katie's face became even redder and she murmured her agreement with downcast eyes. "Yes, Mommy. You paddled me for it."
"Yes, I did. I bought a special paddle for the purpose, made of natural wood. Katie then had something else to protest about as I set her granola fed cheeks on fire."
"I'm going this weekend to protest about clearing forests to make things like furniture and sorority paddles," Katie muttered angrily, rubbing her shapely bottom in its denim jeans.
Sports Fanaticism Reddens Hair, Rear
Although there is a definite resemblance between Patricia Healy and her sixteen-year-old daughter Shauna, it is hard to see with the younger woman. She was dressed entirely from head to toe in combinations of red and white, her face was painted the same colours, and even her hair was dyed to match.
Mrs Healy looked at her daughter, sighed and then laughed. She explained that the trouble started when Shauna joined the pep squad at her posh Toronto school. "The soccer team is known as the Maple Leafs and their colours are, you guessed it, red and white."
"Go Leafs!" Shauna cheered jumping to her feet and waving red and white pom poms vigorously.
"Calm down, sweetie," Mrs Healy advised her daughter, also reaching for her hairbrush in warning. Blue eyes widening, the girl resumed her seat and kept a careful eye on her mother and the hand closest to the broad backed wooden styling (and spanking) tool. "She went to the games and shouted herself hoarse," her mother continued. "And then she started going to the games wearing the team colours, coming home with her face painted, doing her nails in red and white and the final step was the hair."
Shauna protested that the team noticed and appreciated her support. "Yes, the team do seem to enjoy it," Mrs Healy agreed. "However the teachers and the principal do not. They have a dress code, and unfortunately for our little maple leaf it does not include looking like a barbershop pole."
Shauna shifted nervously in her seat and looked around.
"Shauna started off going to school dressed properly, but took her red and white cheer squad gear with her and changed into it at school. When she was sent home for the third time I took action. I should have done it after she dyed her hair, she had such pretty blonde locks," Patricia Healy sighed.
Shauna frowned and said that her mother had been indulgent at the time, saying that her red hair would show support for her team.
"Well, it did, darling," her mother replied. "Not only were you dressed in red and white, you were red and white under your clothes. And I bet that the heat the brush imparted into your hindquarters kept you warm whilst sitting out on those cold bleachers. It was such a success that I think we'll have a little 'cheer' session at home before each game."
A Straight Laced Spanking
Looking at San Francisco's Skye Michaelson and Donna Lexus, one could be forgiven for being confused about who was the parent and who was the child. At 21, Skye is of course the daughter, but with her sensible hairdo, prim and proper clothes and a mature outlook she seems much older than her years. On the other hand Donna has a short hairdo, multiple facial piercings and at least one tattoo.
"I don't know what to do with Skye," Ms Lexus bemoaned. "She won't get anything other than her ears pierced, she has a job with a law firm that doesn't do pro bono work. And she even wants to get married, settle down, have a few children and live in the valley [suburbs]." This last was said with a derisively curl of the pierced lip.
"Mom," Skye tried to explain, "I can't live like you want me to. I don't want to live in a tree, I want my kids to go to school every day, not just when they feel like it."
"I don't know," Ms Lexus said sadly. "I just didn't smack her bottom enough when she was younger. She won't go to protests and she even hides her underwear, rather than burn her bra. Honestly, what sort of example is that for today's youth?"
"I <i>did</i> go to a protest last month," Skye protested. "It was save the whales."
Ms Lexus rolled her eyes and corrected her daughter. "It was for nuclear disarmament and I had to use the back of my hairbrush to get you to attend."
"Well, as everyone still has nuclear weapons it obviously didn't have much effect," the younger woman observed.
"Hopefully the next spanking I give you when the gay pride march is on, I will," Ms Lexus muttered ominously. "If I have to spank you every week for the rest of the year to get you to loosen up I will, young lady." Her daughter just rolled her eyes, but a wag of the woman's finger made her quickly look away.
There are at least four young women who believe enough in their chosen lifestyles to defy their mothers and accept the sore bottoms that go with them. Ashleigh Mirrano, Katie Armstrong, Shauna Healy and Skye Michaelson should be given a standing ovation, because not one of the four is likely to be able to sit down any time soon.
Originally published in Bared Affair, Issue 4.07