Friday, June 27, 2008

Don't Label Me

I am an 80's child. Born to a generation known to worship the polo horse, the guess triangle, the jordache jean, designer loafers, the Rolex watch and the Gucci handbag. Funny thing was, even in the 80's I just never "got" labels. I always envisioned myself as a Molly Ringwald type, who made their own fashion rules. Except no where near as perky and cute. Oh, yeah, without the boyfriend with the Porsche too...

In college, this theme continued. I fell in love with the grunge look. Flannels, tights, Doc Marten boots, long hair and REM on the radio. Whatever your style, anything goes. Wash your hair? Maybe, maybe not. It didn't matter. Even as an adult there are no sparkly DKNY t-shirts in my closet, no gym wear with words written across my backside and my idea of fashion is something that suits my frame and my personal style, regardless of which store it came from. I don't really want you to know.

My home looks nothing like the Pottery Barn catalog pages I find in my neighbors kitchens and living rooms. My kids decorate their rooms with their collections and finds. My favorite chair? One rescued from the trash heap and restored by a friend as a gift for my first home. My dining room table? Dented, dinged and 100 years old, straight from the pages of Craigslist, but it was my style and I loved it at first sight.

Then, I had kids. I always refused the Spiderman, Spongebob, Pokemon, YuGiOh t-shirts, bedding and coats. Why? Because these were fun for a week, then they would just want something else. I always told my boys, you're not a walking advertisement. Besides, I always secretly thought they looked much cleaner and neater in a striped t-shirt and jeans. And, you never have to worry, when you have boys - any t-shirt goes with any pair of jeans. There never was any whining for a Pokemon t-shirt lurking in the depths of the dryer that they neeeeeded to wear today.

Don't get me wrong. I have a couple of fashionistas in the bunch now. Scruffy, curly hair that must be worn - just so. Jeans with just the right amount of holes. Last year's baseball jersey or warm up hoodie with their last name emblazoned on their backs. That's OK with me though, they are finding their own style. They have picked up some of my habits. Don't wear what everyone else is wearing. Go with what makes you comfortable. Even the 4 year old. His hair looks like the mid-length curly, perfectly scruffy hair of his 12 year old brother, he doesn't want me cut it and he's proud. And I love him for that.

Tonight I opened my refrigerator to grab some milk for a post-baseball thirsty boy and as I peered inside I realized something I never really took notice of before. My refrigerator is label-free. Milk in clear glass bottles. Butter in plain white tubs. Eggs in simple brown cartons marked with my own last name. Jam in canning jars. Vegetables without packaging or bags. Meat without marketing, labels or coupons. Inside my pantry plain paper bags hold my flour, beans and popcorn. My peanut butter has a handwritten label reminding me that Katie, the person who makes it, got a special order of organic nuts, just for our food club.

So, the little girl who grew up disliking embroidered polo horses, triangles on the butt of her jeans and sparkly DKNY labels across the chest of her t-shirts grew up to appreciate local food, handmade goods and all label-free. She grew up to appreciate the friendly hand of the baker, the farmer and the artist. She grew up to raise children who are individuals instead of following the masses. She grew up to appreciate her own uniqueness and idiosyncrasies. Or, maybe that's who she was all along and just didn't know it?

10 comments:

Heather @ SGF said...

I never thought about no labels in the fridge. Hmm. Now I have to go look....

Bobbi's Book Nook said...

Wow - you are my new idol! I'm a child of the 1960's and 70's; never did get into trends - I'm still a jeans and tee shirt kind of girl.

I never went into all that trendy stuff with my kids either - although the oldest (now 25) did have a HUGE crush on "He-Man"! Like any first-born, I did indulge in the He-Man sheets; but she used them for almost 5 years!

After reading about your label-free frig, I have decided to challenge myself to accomplishing the same thing. I already have my own jams and jellies, plus the fresh veggies, but I want to check in with some local farmers to see what else I can switch over to.

Keep up the great work!

Joyce said...

For my sons, the big issue was the $100 athletic shoes that were the huge status symbol, and we simply couldn't afford them. The problem is, you can stand up to the culture, but it really can be hard for the kids sometimes. I consider us to be middle class, but they were treated like they were from the ghetto or something for not having those. And what if they were from the ghetto-how would those kids feel? I hate, hate, hate all that competetive consumption, but I suppose it's
always been there. Fortunately, teens usually grow out of that when they start having to pay for things themselves. Sounds like you are hitting it about right with your guys, though.

arduous said...

Cool post! I sometimes think about that how my food has no labels. For my clothes it's about 50/50, though honestly I get way more compliments on the Indian embroidered shirts I wear than any of my clothes from the Gap. You are right. It's all about finding your style.

Heather @ SGF said...

Ok. We're not doing as bad as I thought. I have organic peanut butter (for me and that's how I get our dog to take her pills), wheat bread (hubby), ketchup (hubby again) and mayo (this was bought a long time ago-I'll be making my own next time). Sweet!

eco 'burban mom said...

Heather - isn't it funny that you just don't notice the lack of labels? I hadn't noticed until last night

BBN - I wouldn't say I NEVER allow a toy or book based on a movie. I just have this weird thing about wearing a billboard. Strange... But, other than sports teams, my kids never really put up a fight. For some reason, the sports teams never bother me. Maybe because they're local??? ;o)

Joyce, somehow we have escaped $100 shoes, which I agree we can not afford. I too consider us middle class, but only because spend well, not because we earn a lot! My boys are pretty low maintenance, so I am not sure how it would be if I had brand conscious kids. Maybe I would cave??

Arduous - some of my clothes are from Jcrew or Gap, but they just don't have the sparkly logo written across my boobs. You can't go wrong with basic black pants from Jcrew, I just don't think the world needs to know. I think good quality basics that fit well, are key. I refuse to look like I am wearing mom-jeans and a maternity top!! I like to think I am a fairly fashionable person... Somedays. When I am not too tired. Or at baseball!!

Green Bean said...

My aunt used to buy me all the Guess clothes in Jr. High. I would then get out my sewing kit and take the labels off. They didn't go with my purple hair. ;-)

I had the same realization as you a couple months back. Whoa. There are no labels in my fridge and virtually none in my pantry. It looks so clean and wholesome that way. I feel downright Laura Ingalls Wilder-ish.

Gray Matters said...

Great post and something to strive for. We're label free with our clothing but definitely need to work on the fridge. Thanks.

csim33 said...

You realize Doc Martens are a label right? You probably meant Doc Martens in the generic word boots meaning, but I couldn't resist...

csim33 said...

work boots - not word boots!!! :)