I Hate/Like/Love/Hate That

I was 13 years old in 1990, the year that Beverly Hills 90201 debuted.  I wasn’t allowed to watch the show, but you didn’t have to watch it in order to see its impact, which was visible directly in front of the ears of most teenage boys. I refer, of course, to the reestablishment of sideburns. Before 90210 came on the scene, sideburns – in Farmington, Utah, at least – were a laughable, regrettable relic of the days when our parents were young.  Before 1990 sideburns were lying in risible disrepute in the trash heap of history.  They were a punch line.

Before long, though, the sideburns sported by Brandon and Dylan on 90210 leapt off the screen and onto the heads of a few brave, trendspotting souls in Farmington.  I was not one of them.  Indeed, I was physically unable to look at an image of the boys from Beverly Hills without being overcome by nasuea and rage.  I just HATED their sideburns SO MUCH.   I mean, I could admit that they were really handsome guys and had awesome clothes and and yes, Dylan had a certain je ne sais quois about him.  Obviously.  But those sideburns?  Gross.  Disgusting and gross and ugly and stupid and lame and disgusting.


I honestly have no idea how you would get your hair to go like that.

I remember being at my friend Darren’s house during this time when some of his older sister’s high school friends walked in, all sporting their new sideburns.  Darren and I laughed at and openly ridiculed them.  I think I called one of them Elvis.  They laughed right back and told us, in essence, that we could laugh all we wanted but that we probably couldn’t even grow sideburns and no girl would ever like us until we could and did.  Each side walked way confident of history’s ultimate vindication.

I don’t remember how much time lapsed between the days when I couldn’t look at anyone with sideburns without wanting to punch them and the moment when I started praying that my own sparse sideburns would extend below the top 1/3 of my ear.  Maybe a year?  Whatever it was, it didn’t take very long for me to go from HATE to LOOOOOVE.


Wow, still, all these years later.  DREAMBOAT.

Now, we all know that that’s what taste does – it changes, especially when you’re a teenager.  But that’s the part I find so interesting and puzzling.  I experience taste for fashion in the same way I experience taste for food:  I put zucchini in my mouth and my brain tells me it is disgusting and to spit it out.  Same goes for sideburns or Doc Martens or whatever.  I have a visceral reaction that seems hard-wired.  And anything that is hard-wired is permanent.  There doesn’t seem to be any choice in the matter – nothing conscious or optional.  I’m not deciding whether to like the way zucchini tastes or the way sideburns look.  I just like them or I hate them, naturally, automatically, and seemingly permanently.


Inexplicably, weird googly eyes never caught on in the way that sideburns did.

I’ve been through this process umpteen times since it happened to me with sideburns.  Some new trend hits the scene, I hate it for a while, and then it’s just OK, and then I like it, and then I love it, and then, after a few years, I hate it.  The latest iteration of this process I can think of is skinny jeans.  I had two girlfriends who were early adopters.  The first time I saw them wearing them I literally burst out laughing.  I told them in no uncertain terms how silly they looked, how unflattering the cut was to the female form, and how this was a trend that was never, ever going to catch on.   Then, more gently, I told them they had been misled, and that they should see if they get their money back.  Now, several years later, I break out in hives if I come within 100 yards of a wide leg jean – the exact jean that I ridiculed Ryan for not wearing in college.  (At the time he favored tight, tapered jeans.  Before he got married Ryan was an amazing bellwether of what was going to be fashionable in 10 – 15 years.)

This process has now occurred so many times that it’s broken my spirit a little bit. I see some new trend and I say, “Wow, that is incredibly ugly. Too bad that within a year I’m going to be wearing it and loving it.” And then I sit down and wait passively and helplessly for my taste on the matter to change.


Thankfully, some tastes are forever.

All of this raises the central question, for which I lack an answer:  How does this process work, exactly?  How do one’s tastes – which seem so automatic and permanent – go from hate to love and then to hate again in the space of a few years?  We know that it happens, but how?  Is it simply a matter of corporations paying advertisers and marketers to bombard us with images of beautiful, hip people wearing X, at which point we subconsciously begin to associate X with beauty and hipness and come to like and then love it?  Is that all there is to it?  Because if that’s all there is to it I wish some corporation would pay Brad Pitt to start eating tons of vegetables in his movies and say publicly how much he hates Blow Pops and Sour Patch Kids.

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16 Responses to I Hate/Like/Love/Hate That

  1. Megan says:

    I’ve gone through this same process one million times. I still remember the first time I saw the flat van shoes, and I completely hated them. but now I own several pairs.

    The nice part about it is, when you’re sporting a trend early on in that trends lifespan, and people comment and tell you how ugly it is, you can at least think, “In due time. In due time.” It’s at least nice to know you’re ahead of the game and the people that mocked you will be hoping in a year that you don’t notice or call them out on it when they’re wearing that exact same trend.

    I’m sure your past girlfriends know exactly what I’m talking about.

    I also hate seeing wide-leg jeans anywhere now.

  2. Eliza says:

    funny post. I have wondered this so many times and it is so annoying to feel so susceptible to who knows what. I felt the same way about capris. Hated them, thought they looked ridiculous and then 1 year later LOVEd them and wore them as much as I could. Ditto with skinny jeans. Anyway, pretty depressing our basic instincts and tastes can be changed so drastically. lol about brad pitt.

  3. Macy Bell says:

    I have this same issue. i consider myself not a super trendy dresser, but like to stay somewhat up to date in fashion. Okay, Ali is laughing right now, not really, but I shop at sort of hip stores and call it good.
    This phenom is what makes me stop before laughing at whatever Ali is wearing because i know in 6 months to a year Jcrew will be wearing it too, and all of the sudden it is not that crazy anymore, and is definitely growing on me. I think it is that the mainstream takes it and makes it look good with their ads and their models and we feel like we can maybe pull it off. But, it should make us feel fake and lame. The fashion industry is amazing that way.

    Take these shoes for example

    I had these shoes back in jr. high or maybe late elementary and then I saw ali walking around in a red pair of them a year ago and about died. What?? Well now I see them in everywhere and wow! they are growing on me.

    btw ,this is all a compliment to you , ali.

    Also, I was so giddy when I saw Bev. hills 90210 at the top of your post ….one of my all time fav shows ever. Love that Dylan!

  4. This is so true, and I am dying at the thought of you punching a sideburn. I can’t pretend to understand the phenomenon that is fashion trends. My brain can’t comprehend how each decade has it’s own distinct look that is so it’s own. How do clothing and hair styles change so much without anyone really noticing until looking back later? It’s crazy. I’m so happy to see a picture of some Z. Cavs. Zack has the exact pair the woman is wearing in a black stonewash. He wore them almost every Halloween until he couldn’t fit into them anymore a couple years back. I was way ahead of the Ugg trend (not really – when I was in hs the only people that wore Uggs were swimmers, and we only wore them to and from the pool).

  5. Elisa says:

    I LOVE 90210. I tried my hardest to dress as hip and trendy as they did. It didn’t come off hip and trendy but rather sad and Mormon-y.

    I remember when Alan Young came back to school our senior year sporting sideburns. At first all we could do was stare– because DUDE! He was so daring! Then we swooned.

    I don’t understand my teen daughters affinity for Neon, jell bracelets or skinny jeans. Somethings are just better left in the 80’s.

    And I will NEVER ever love leg warmers. NEVER. At least not until next year.

  6. Ryan says:

    You did well to mention Doc Martens, probably the most fascinating rise and fall in our lifetimes. They were so incredibly edgy at first- mostly the province of Madonna and a few ska and punk rockers. Sting picked them up and they got just a titch more mainstream, but people who wore them in real life were still pretty much at the margins. They were huge and ugly and unnecessarily attention-grabbing and heavy and punky and disgusting. Somehow (and I still wish I could go back and document this progress) between about 1992 and 1995 Doc Martens went from totally fringe to somewhat mainstream to being the must-have shoe for Mormon Missionaries!!! Can you track anything moving that fast down that dramatic a trajectory? Obviously, when missionaries start to wear it, it’s pretty much doomed. And those shoes were. But it’s amazing to see how far they fell in just a few years. Kind of crazy.

  7. Rebecca Bell says:

    i remember feeling the same way about skinny jeans. it thought they were actually kinda going out again last year, but, no, they’ve just gotten skinnier and tighter. anyway, that’s so funny about brad pitt.
    macy– my sister, julie had those shoes on the other day and i honestly thought they were the most hideous things i’d ever seen. then, we walked in to a store in the mall and a very flamboyant dressing room attendant demanded to know where she had gotten them. well, those guys always know what they’re talking about so i knew then that i was the one in the wrong.

  8. Braden says:

    Since I still proudly wear sweater vests, I am probably not the best person to comment on this.

  9. Candice says:

    The fashion of the 90s is way worse than you remember. Relive those 90210 years in 292 episodes and only 52 DVDs. I’m selling my 90210 collection as we speak- all 10 seasons. http://tiny.cc/evnka

    Thanks DDDT for the shameless plug. I really hope a reader ends up with this collection.

  10. Troy says:

    I’m 33 and I still can’t grow burns. Curse Dan Black. You know those burns were solely responsible for him pulling one of the most coveted girlfriends at DHS.

  11. Amy says:

    I have had a version of the bob hairstyle since 1985. It is a classic and I will rock it til I die.

  12. Ben Pratt says:

    The only reasonable explanation is that advertising is a dark and mystical art, calling upon powers greater any that mere mortals should attempt to control.

  13. Davis says:

    Megan, I hate being on the other side of that. I had a girlfriend who insisted I wear ankle socks rather than mid-calf ones. I ridiculed ankle socks, and my conversion to them a year later was pretty painful.

    Liza, I agree, it’s totally depressing.

    Macy, I don’t consider myself a trendy dresser, either. I’m not talking about hopping on every fad, just the major ones that dictate what kinds of pants can be worn. But no matter what happens, I will never like Ali’s zipper boots. And I laughed when I saw her wearing the shoes you linked to, too. I still hate them. I didn’t know you were such a 90210 fan. Maybe you should buy Candice’s DVD set.

    Danica, Zack had some Z. Cavs????? Like from when he wore them back in the day? And in black stonewash nonetheless. That’s awesome. Good for him.

    Elisa, the dude wearing sideburns I was talking about was Ryan McKenzie, who I believe was maybe your age and a bit of a dreamboat himself. And it cracked me up that sideburns were so daring. I mean, they totally were, but it’s funny that that’s what counted as daring in Kaysville in the early 90s.

    Ryan, I’d never thought about that. That’s actually not a bad plan for the General Authorities. They find whatever fashion trend they want to take away from the trendy people and force the missionaries to start wearing it. “Elders, I don’t know why, but we’ve all been asked to start wearing rompers.”

    Rebecca, you make a good point about skinny jeans. They keep ramping that trend up to new extremes. I feel like it’s going to fold in on itself to the point that they’re just going to be tights.

    Braden, actually, sweater vests are kind of in. So good job.

    Candice, you watched all 10 episodes of 90210 on DVD??? My goodness. That doesn’t strike me as a show that would wear particularly well.

    Troy, Dan Black was pure cool from the minute he showed up at Knowlton. In fact, I remember trying to get my hair to go like his.

    Amy, stay strong. That boy will be in fashion every 15 years.

    Ben, I agree. The government should take it over.

  14. Actually, Zack bought the Z. Cavzzzz at D.I. I think while we were dating. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than having them from back in the day.

  15. Splurgerina says:

    Hi..first of all thanks @ Macy Bell for the mention..my website traffic spiked and I had to come see where it was coming from! 🙂 Anyway, very interesting post! I wonder about all this as well and actually briefly touched on this very thing on my latest blog entry about wearing neon colors. As a teenager, I hated it and any person caught wearing anything in neon was the biggest fashion victim ever! But here I am 10 years later writing about this very trend…how it ends up happening?? I have no idea..but guess those advertisers and magazine editors are doing a hell of a good job!

  16. Charlotte says:

    I have the misfortune of not falling in love until everyone else has gotten back to the hate side. Pretty soon I will rely solely on my 13 year old to pick my clothes. Since she wants to borrow them, it should keep her honest about how nice it looks.

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