Scrunchies or Not, We All Have a Little Closet Shame

    In standard at-home rags — an XL fisherman’s T-shirt and shapeless UCSD sweats — there I lay, surfing the web for something easier to swallow than the usual influx of nauseating felony reports.

    After about a minute of impatient browsing, I struck gold. There, in sepia, stood a woman in a beehive hairdo and mock turtleneck sweater. I’d finally found my kicks — all beneath the blog heading “My Mom, the Style Icon: Moms as Fashion Muses.”

    It was too good to be true.

    A collection of mom photos uploaded by fellow surfers, the site serves as a tribute to our fearless fashionista mothers, who sported bell bottoms and chunky wooden chokers like it wasn’t a thing.

    My mom, for one, had just emerged from the ’80s neon-spandex phase during our “take your daughter to work” bonding days. And when your mom is an aerobics instructor, her work uniform is 10 times more in your face than usual. I remember squinting at her Richard Simmons-style curls rocking out to Madonna during a Jazzercise course, bangs bouncing maniacally to every last beat of “La Isla Bonita”.

    It wasn’t until age seven that I realized not every grown woman grocery shopped in spandex.

    The mom fashion-icon site is evidence that once upon a time, our mothers strived to be emblems of fashion. They strutted their stuff, just like you and I — some maybe even at UCSD, checking themselves out in Geisel’s mirrored walkway.

    And judging from some of yesteryear’s biggest icons — Farrah Fawcett, Cyndi Lauper and the one redheaded chick from “Dallas,” to name a few — my own mother was an attentive imitator, a blinking red dot on the “hot” radar.

    Why, then, do we still feel infinitely cooler than our mothers? I mean, had technology not blessed me with the divine gift of the flat iron, I’d be sporting the same unruly ’fro as Mrs. Marrujo herself, putting me one oversized-sweatshirt-and-booty-short combo away from her atrocious early ’90s phase.

    As I glanced down at the T-shirt I was still swimming in, it suddenly looked remarkably like something my mother would have worn over stirrup leggings when she was my age.

    Shit!

    The same masterminds that controlled our mothers’ fashion choices are still swaying our vote: the fresh, young faces owned by the media. Whether it’s Lauren Conrad (for us) or Twiggy (for Mom) determining what’s cool, it’s really no one’s fault but the money-grubbers directing pop culture from the rack up. Why else would we pick up those weird, “Afrika”-print leggings from American Apparel? For what other reason would Mom rock a camel toe in those high-waisted jeans?

    What prevails throughout all generations is the idea that we don’t know what looks good on us until some kind of celebrity flaunts it on the red carpet. One week a muumuu-draped Mary-Kate Olsen gets eaten alive by the paparazzi in Greenwich Village, and the next a big-boned girl from Minnesota snatches an overpriced look-a-like sweater for no other reason than to do like the stars do.

    Truth is, there will always be hits and misses in the fashion world. Yet as much as our Friday night outfit-choosing ritual may be dictated by whatever Paris Hilton sported in her latest crotch shot (beyond the Brazilian wax), we also get to tailor our choices to work best on us. (I’m sure my mom thanked heaven for the big-haired ’80s movement — finally, something she could manage!)

    Re-browsing “My Mom, the Style Icon,” I see women no more convinced of their own fashion sense than we are today, just trying to figure out what’s most stylish (and at least semi-comfortable) to slip on in the morning. In hindsight, I can’t really blame them for whipping out the Nancy Sinatra knee-highs — at least those are easier to slip into than skinny jeans.

    As for me and my mom? We have different skin tones and face shapes, sure — but as for hair and body type, we’re one and the same. Scoff though I may at those shoulder-padded floral blazers collecting dust in the cobwebbed depths of Mom’s closet, I can’t guarantee I probably wouldn’t have made Jennifer Beals from “Flashdance” my style icon, too, had I been a working girl in the ’80s — spandex wedgie and all.

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