“Today was a good day,” Kai-Kai said when I picked her up from play rehearsal, “Today was a gold medal day!”
“Wonderful!” said I, imagining a 100% on a test, an A+ on an essay, or maybe even a lab project with a big gold star plastered on the “good work” board, “What made it so great?”
“Today I had my brand new Uggs, my Northface jacket and my LL Bean backpack. Finally the exact right pieces for school.”
For those of you who either live in sunny Hawaii/CA or under a rock so are unaware of the most important teen fashion trend of the past decade, Uggs are those furry boots that Uma Thurman made famous a long time ago. They are the footwear de rigueur of the middle school set, and even middle aged moms. Pity those of us who live in cold weather and for months are consigned to bulky ugly footwear just to keep warm.
The also cost, at minimum $150/pair. There was no way I was paying that sort of money for girls whose feet grew an inch every six months. I won’t pay that sort of money for myself and my feet haven’t grown since my last pregnancy. Even more, because they’re suede, you can’t actually wear Uggs in snow or slush–which is a lot of the time you need boots in the winter in New England!
3 or 4 years ago, I found FUggs (Fake Uggs) at BJs Wholesale Club for $38/pair. The miser in me still felt like those were a bit expensive given I did most of my boot shopping for kids on Sierra Trading Post (the best place for activewear and sundries at deep discount), but I swallowed, bought them each a pair and wrapped them up for Christmas.
The screams and shouts of joy warmed the cockles of my heart. The happiness lasted for months with hardly a complaint about their fakeness.
It became a yearly ritual, buying FUggs.
But in the past year or so FUggs lost their glamour–they became seen for what they are, fake. They don’t have that Ugg label on the back of the heel. They don’t leave the Ugg prints in the snow from their stamped plastic bottoms. Friends look at your feet and know you’re an imposter in the middle school world.
Last year, an adolescent psychologist talking about parenting middle school kids, said the reason all the girls need Uggs and Northface jackets is they have so much going on in their brains, they’re so sure that everyone’s looking at them and judging them, that if they wear the right uniform, they don’t have to worry–they can relax about just one thing, and getting just one thing off their minds is a huge relief.
That stuck with me. So when I flew to CA for my uncle’s 80th birthday last December, I asked my mom to take me straight off the plane to the Northface Outlet, where I bought every one of my kids a jacket. I wasn’t going to buy one for my son because he never talks about the latest fashion, but Mama insisted I include him and then threw in $ towards the jackets as her Christmas present to the kids.
But I still held out against Uggs because I’m not going to plop down $150 on feet that are still growing. And even if they stop growing, I’m still not going to plop down $150.
So Kai-Kai, who’s been babysitting up a storm ever since turning 13, decided to save for her own Uggs. It didn’t even take her that long. Scott took her to Nordstrom’s on Sunday and she spent her own $180 on chocolate brown Uggs that look just like the picture at the top.
And finally, after years of FUggs and insufficient clothing, she could walk into 8th grade with the proper uniform and not worry about it. I’m glad she saved and got what she wanted so she could feel good about herself in middle school.
Good for her. She had a gold medal day.
|Kai-Kai with her LL Bean backpack (as we’re leaving |
for China 2 summers ago)