Confounded By Group Photos

“Time can change me, But I can’t trace time.”

~ David Bowie

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A few months ago I was talking on the phone with a friend who happens to be in her eighties.  She is a delight– mentally with it + honest to a fault.  In other words, exactly who I want to be when I get to be an eightysomething.

In our conversation my friend mentioned that her granddaughter had emailed her some photos of herself with her friends.  The young women had gotten dressed up and gone out to brunch together somewhere pricey.  The photo of was of all of them in front of the restaurant.

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I asked my friend how her granddaughter looked in the photo and my friend said: “Cute, I guess.  All the girls look alike to me, so I can’t tell which one she is.  They all have long, stringy hair and carry huge purses.  I think that my granddaughter is one of them.”

As we talked a bit more about kids.these.days. I chuckled to myself about me humoring a delightful older woman who was clearly confused by the obvious.  I mean, how could she not know which girl was her granddaughter?  Really.

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A younger friend of mine, who is not on Twitter, has a high school daughter, who is on Twitter.  And as you know, I’m on Twitter.  So, every once in a while I check to see what my friend’s daughter is doing on Twitter.

What I have discovered is that this girl is a good kid.  She has pleasant friends, likes ice cream, doesn’t like schoolwork, likes sports, goes on dates.  Nothing scathing at all– unless you consider a few swear words once in a while to be trouble.  Which I don’t.

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One day last week I was glancing at the photos that my friend’s daughter had added to her Twitter feed and I saw a group shot of a bunch of teenage girls.  They were all wearing skinny jeans and white t-shirts and pumps with 4″ heels.  And I thought: “What a cute photo.  I wonder which one is my friend’s daughter?  They all look alike.”  

Then it hit me. *BAM*  I had just said exactly what my older friend said about her granddaughter and her friends.  And I realized that I had morphed into an old woman who couldn’t distinguish one child from another.  

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This means, of course, that now I must admit to my younger friend that I can’t recognize her daughter in the photo.  I can’t help but wonder if my friend will politely listen to me on the phone while chuckling to herself about humoring me, a delightful older woman who is clearly confused by the obvious.  I mean, I would understand where she was coming from… as I was in that same situation only a few short months ago.

Oh yeah.  Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

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Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

32 thoughts on “Confounded By Group Photos”

  1. Oh look out, you rock and roller . . . also reminds me of that Harry Chapin song “Cat in the Cradle” where a man ignores his father and, in turn, gets ignored by his son.

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  2. Great blog today! I find it amazing how the young girls these days all wear makeup like a model. They are all so pretty! I never wore much at all, especially in high school. Now that I’m “old”, I wear it to cover up a lot of things:)

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    1. Beth, part of the look-alike-ness is make-up and part of it is no originality in clothing/accessories. Put the two things together and I’ll be darned if I can figure out which kid is the one I’m supposed to be following!

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  3. I feel the same way, sort of, but not about young girls. In the Plain Dealer, they have a social page, and there are photos of the hoity-toity at various charity events. All the Women Of A Certain Age are blond and have the wide-eyed look of having had said eyes “done.” It’s a little alarming. They all look alike to me.

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    1. nance, I’ve seen those sorts of society pages around here [only in magazines]. I know what you mean. If you’ve seen one Botox-ed bottle blonde, you’ve seen ’em all!

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  4. Genius post! I thought it was only me! I can’t figure out why they all dress exactly alike. I wanted to be different when I was their age. Not too different, just a little (at least so my mother could pick me out of a lineup!)

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    1. kate, me too. I wanted to be an individual who looked unique, but not weird. Plus I didn’t have a lot of $$$ to spend on clothes, so following trends wasn’t always possible.

      Z-D has a theory about why all these young women dress alike. He thinks it is because they are involved in team sports from the time they can toddle– and so they continue to dress alike even when given the opportunity to be unique. That’s all they know.

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  5. Ha, great post and of course one of the best songs ever!!! I was looking at some photos on Facebook (which I’m not on, although similar to your Twitter example) and I came across a friend of one of our kids. There was a picture she had posted that *might* contain a picture of our kid. Yes, our own kid. The one I just saw last month (he’s away in college). But yet, I’m not sure. It sure looks like him…but! I finally decided it IS him because he’s barefoot in the picture and he has his Dad’s feet, so…not sure what this means for my brain, though! 🙂

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    1. Kristen, I feel better now about this group photo situation. If you can’t easily figure out which kid is yours, then how could I possibly be expected to know which girl is my friend’s daughter?!

      [I tell you though, when I exclaimed to myself the exact words that my older friend had said… I. felt. ancient.]

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    1. la p, I agree. But what I wonder about is: why? Seems like the whole point of being young is to wear goofy styles and try different looks. However, looking the same must work for them, so there you go.

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      1. Another theory – if there is a lot of bullying of young girls in schools as the media suggests, maybe the sameness is a way not to stick out because sticking out is what, unfortunately, invites the bullying. As I did not understand young girls when I was young, nor do I understand them now, this is purely a guess.

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        1. Z-D, I wondered the same thing. If by blending in they feel safe, then I suppose that I must admit that looking alike is the way to go. Makes sense when put into that context.

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  6. I think Z-D has it, but it doesn’t apply to just girls. I remember my dad fighting with my brother about his longer hair, the crux being that he wasn’t expressing himself, he was being like everyone else. And I remember being upset because I didn’t have the cool jeans or the cool shoes. By the time we got to high school, it was perhaps a little less identical but different groups definitely had similar looks.Just by looking, you could tell who was a preppy (popular at that time), a brain, a drama/music kid, a stoner, etc. Both boys and girls. It was a part of belonging and sticking out meant you weren’t part of that group. Do many teenagers make it through that period of their lives without trying to fit into some group?

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    1. Zazzy, probably not. Trying to be part of a group is the raison d’etre of high school. I can understand the high school girls dressing alike, but the young women who my older friend referred to were out of college… yet still dressing alike. That comes across as insecure to me. Not that they care about my opinion at all! 😉

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  7. They are part of a pack mentality where you travel together and dress alike. I have to say that I have many students who wear VERY unique clothes and hair styles and I admire that. I was one of the pack in high school-wayfarer jeans and long stringy blond hair.

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    1. Margaret, you’ve explained it well. It might be more of a midwest/southern thing now that I think about it. I was surprised by my inability to distinguish my friend’s daughter, but now I see that is exactly how she wanted it!

      I dressed more like an individual when I was in high school. But then I knew that I was getting out of town after graduation so I didn’t really care what anyone thought about my style!

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  8. I sometimes have trouble recognising my son from 40 feet across the playground when they all come out. They all look alike, tiny, 4 or 5, all in identical uniform, often with similar coats, and the teacher expects us to wave to acknowledge that our child is at the front of the queue before they will release them (great, all for safety) but the number of times I have waved at the wrong kid!

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    1. Polly, that’s funny. I bet that they all do exactly alike. It’s the uniforms, of course. So here’s my question: does the wrong kid ever wave back at you, the wrong mom?

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      1. They just look a bit puzzled and wonder why I am waving at them. They know me anyway because I do one to one reading with the children in school every week, so they aren’t worried, just puzzled. Can’t say I blame them, after all the grown ups are supposed to know what they are doing, yes?

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  9. I agree that young girls try for very similar looks. One reason is you don’t want to give ANY reason to be singled out – to be made fun of…mean girls have gotten very mean…so mostly alike, with little tiny “approved” differences. “Team work” seems to be praised more highly than individualism in schools and at offices.(a bit of a change from when I was growing up)
    Like you, I hope to be able to retain the brain cell usage as some “elderly” I know.
    Nice post

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    1. philosophermouse, I feel sorry for these kids who grow up afraid of their peers and hide behind uniformity of dress to survive. Like you, growing up was when we wanted to be individuals– not part of a team. I’d not thought about any of this until my “elderly” moment of self-awareness. Funny experience, interesting conversation from it.

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      1. A whole different world – and set of attitudes – and stars that guide them. Not just technology – definite internal outlooks and thought process changes.
        Gosh darn it I’ll blame the repeated views of the Challenger crashes for destroying bravery and desire to explore – both other space and emotional space…it at least began around that time – and with the changes in business (no longer could an individual count on being treated fairly if they worked hard – the team became important…only team players apply….) Of course there were other influences, but look at the product. A bit scary. Few explorers/little praise or encouragement for discoverers…status quo and “careful not to raise your head up and get noticed” isn’t good in the long run. You hit on a great topic

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        1. Fascinating observations about what has made today’s kids behave as they do. This conversation reminds me of a friend who used to say about working in a corporation: if you don’t surface, they can’t harpoon you.

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            1. Good question. I don’t know. Is rebellion a learned behavior? If so, then I predict no rebellion because these individuals have not learned it early on in life.

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            1. Polly, it is a saying that sums things up rather nicely. Useful in many situations.

              [I changed your name after I got your second comment explaining it all.]

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