The Movement of Generations
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Ebb and Flow.
My daughter has asked me about some differences in adolescence between her generation and mine. I canâ€™t say itâ€™s true for all of my generation (small town, rural GA in theÂ 1970â€™s) Â and hers Â (military and Â tourist-related Â town, Gulf Coast, FL in the 00â€™s), but itâ€™s what Iâ€™ve seen myself.
Boobage â€“ The girls in my high school were mostly A and B cups by the time they graduated, with maybe one C Â cup Â in Â the Â whole Â class Â and Â very Â few Â in Â the Â whole school. The same was true Â percentage-wise Â in the other area schools. The C-cups got a lot of Â attention because they were rather rare. On Shannonâ€™s first day of the sixth grade, I waited across the street at the Episcopal Church to pick her up and watch Â dozens Â and dozens of middle school Â girls cross Â the highway, Â many Â already Â C and D cups. I had to remind Â myself Â that they were, Â at most, eighth graders.
Toning â€“ The girls in my high school and neighboring high Â school Â were Â generally Â not as well-toned Â as in Shannonâ€™s Â class. Â I do Â remember Â a couple Â of girls who played softball and had phenomenal Â arms and legs and one Â dancer, Â but Â home Â gyms, Â exercise Â videos, Â Nautilus machines, Â etc Â werenâ€™t Â readily Â available Â to Â my Â peers. Nowadays, itâ€™s nothing to find my younger daughter rolling around on the floor to a Pilates DVD.
TheÂ Freshman Â 15 â€“ Most of us ate our meals Â at homeâ€”a meat, a starch, and a couple of veggies. Going out to eat meant a date on the weekend and a hamburger, fries, and a coke at Dairy Queen or, if it was a special occasion, driving over to Dothan for a movie and fish and chips at Long John Silvers (I obviously didnâ€™t date rich boys, but there Â wasnâ€™t much better if I had). I was 100 pounds when I went to college and was for most of college. I think I was up to 105 by Â graduation. Â We were told thatÂ youÂ should Â never gain Â more Â than 15 pounds from your weight at 18 becauseÂ you Â were â€œfull-grownâ€ then, but I didnâ€™t stop getting my curves until I was Â 25 and already married. Good thing, too, because both my slender teens are bigger at 13 and 16 than I was at 25â€”I just never realized how thin I was because I was always told I was fat by my Depression Era father. Â The fact that my weight stayedÂ Â the same was probably the exception to the Freshman 15 (pounds) that most of my friends put on when we got to Â college. Â Â Fast food was plentifulâ€”I remember commenting Â on my first Â trip Â there about the street of Â Hardees, McDonaldâ€™s, Pizza Hut, Wendyâ€™s, and several Â more being Â â€œFast Â Food Â Row.â€ Â Many Â of Â the freshmenÂ had Â never Â had Â easy Â access Â to Â fast Â food Â and Momâ€™s home Â cooking was hours away, so for all of us, our dietary habits changed, Â and for those trapped in the dorms with nothingÂ better than a hot-plate and Â a meal ticket for unidentifiable cafeteria food, junk food became a way of life, as did the pounds directly added to the hips.
Death and Â Disease: AIDS was unheard Â of in the 70â€™s and the Sexual Revolution of the baby boomersâ€™ generation was Â only Â a few years past when my peers and I were teens. Â Most were still Â virgins Â when they left high school, with the biggest fear being pregnancy and the lack of â€œrubbersâ€ for â€œprotectionâ€ against unwanted pregnancies.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The Â Â Â Â secondary Â Â Â Â Â Â fear Â Â Â Â was Â Â Â Â Â of Â Â Â Â Â Â Â contracting â€œVDâ€ (venereal disease), like gonorrhea or syphilis. They werenâ€™t even Â called â€œsexually transmitted diseaseâ€ in my area until the â€˜80â€™s, and HIV Â wasnâ€™t a concern until the mid-80â€™s and later. So the kids in high school might get a VD from sex but they didnâ€™t fear theyâ€™d die from itâ€”they just Â needed to get some penicillin before their parts fell off. A gynecologist (not mine) recently told me that sheâ€™s alarmed at how many newly divorced women in their 40â€™s are getting all sorts of STDs from Â unprotected Â sex be- cause they still have the mindset of their teen years Â but after hysterectomies Â and tubals, their old worry of pregnancy is gone.
Homosexuality: I didnâ€™t know of anyone in my high school or any of the surrounding Â high schools who was openly gay or bisexual. No one had both boyfriends and girlfriends. Â That Â may Â have Â been Â particular Â because Â we were in a Southern Bible Belt town, but it was a shock to find openly (and not so openly) gay and bisexual friends in college. Those who were open were often ostracized. I never once saw two women or two men kissing in my teen years, and Â if Iâ€™d seen two people of the same sex holding hands, it was have been a headturner.
Protection â€” My parents lived by either Dr. Spockâ€™s baby Â manual, their mothersâ€™ Â advice, Â or just the prayers that God would send guardian angels to keep them safe. My daughtersâ€™ generation Â has been the most watch-over of any Iâ€™ve ever heard of. We warned others of the â€œBaby on Boardâ€ our cars so please drive safely around us. We kept baby monitors by their cribs if they were out of sight so we could hear the slightest gasp or cry from anywhere in the house. Weâ€™ve put GPS tracking bracelets on them and put cell phones Â in their Â handsÂ as Â lifelines to their whereabouts. We now even have bubblegum-colored cell phones for kindergartners Â with a button Â for Mommyâ€™s cell number and Â a Â button for Daddyâ€™s cell number. My childrenâ€™s generation Â really has Â been raised by a village watching out for them whereas my own Â generation was told to go play and just be home by dark.
Connectivity â€“ My teen years meant seeing friends at school or at Â church. Most of my friends were long distance and I couldnâ€™t see them on weekends or call them since calling was expensive and we had not such thing as â€œfree long distanceâ€ Â or â€œfree night and weekend Â calls.â€ We couldnâ€™t IM or text one another either. When a friend moved awayâ€”even a few hours awayâ€”they were lost to us forever. Sure, we could send a Â couple of letters, but eventually, one wouldnâ€™t answer and weâ€™d lose touch. My daughters have had friends move to the other side of the States during their teen years, and they keep in touch via the Internet and cell Â phones, blogs, IMs, and text messages. Camera phones and web cams Â are available,Â too, though I have bought a web cam yet. If they have a paper to research, they donâ€™t have to spend a bazillion hours at the library, Â going Â through Â Readersâ€™ Â Guides Â to find obscure articles in the bowels of the Universityâ€™s special collection. All they have to do is Google a subject and spend a Â few Â minutes Â to Â a Â few Â hours Â researching Â the Â matter online. The information Â is right there, at their fingertips. So their generation truly has grown up in the Information Age, where everyone is readily connected to everyone else and information is generally regarded not just as available but free to the masses.