Editorial: Let the kids have their own styles

Published 10:53 pm Tuesday, September 6, 2022

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Kids today are better than we were.

There, I said it. It’s not what you hear very often from us geriatrics. But I remember how I acted as a teenager and as a young man.

It’s an age-old notion among people of an advanced age such as myself – that young people – whatever the generation – are a bunch of no-good freeloaders who don’t appreciate the niceties that we’ve worked hard to provide for them.

Not true.

I see it every time I visit Davie County High School. I see it every time I see young people while out and about. They’re kind and well mannered. Sure, they sometimes hurt my feelings by calling me “Sir” or “Mr. Barnhardt,” but young people today seem nicer than when folks of my age were prowling the streets.

Maybe it’s because we just don’t understand the kids these days. Maybe that’s the way it’s always been and the way it always will be.

But still …

Take these fantasy hair colors, for instance. Sure, some older folks are tinting their hair crazy colors (Act your age, people.), but for the most part, the pinks and blues and everything in between is reserved for the younger generation. It’s definitely no reason to look your nose down at someone else.

In my day, it was the length of the hair. Some of us guys started to let it grow long. Old people didn’t like that. Some of the girls started cutting theirs really short. Old people didn’t like that, either.

Sometimes the way it’s always been is hard to understand for young people. Sometimes it’s because those old rules don’t make any sense at all.

The moral? Don’t think less of somebody just because they have pink hair, especially not a young person. (I know saying “young person” depends on one’s perspective. The older you get, the younger everybody else gets. I’m way past the age of what I used to think was old.)

Piercings and tatoos were nowhere to be found on young men in my day – unless you were already in a motorcycle gang. The young women had pierced ears, that was it. At least that was it to my limited knowledge. Now, they’re common among all types of people, all over the body. Even though we may not understand why, it’s no reason to think less of someone.

I can remember when wearing a pair of bell-bottomed blue jeans got you mean stares. You could hear people thinking, “There goes another dirty hippie.” We may have been dirty, maybe not. We may have been a hippie, maybe not. Either way, we weren’t bothering anybody, just expressing ourselves. Those pants were cool, especially paired with some suede shoes with bulky heels. So don’t worry about these kids nowadays who buy new jeans that look like they’ve been ravaged by a tiger. It’s their style, let them have it.

I’m not trying to give anyone fashion advice here. For goodness sakes, I’ve had the same moustache and hairstyle since before sliced bread was invented. I’ve worn the same pair of blue jeans for a week straight. I’ve worn the same style of shoe for as along as I can remember (Not to tell my age, but comfort is much more important than style in footwear these days. I found a pair that relieves foot pain. I’m wearing them until I die, maybe after.)

But don’t judge me; unless you see me with some fantasy pink in my hair. I’m too old for that.

– Mike Barnhardt