Insert your own unique style here
I shot the sheriff
always say that you should be yourself, like yourself is
something definite, like a toaster.”
— Claire Danes as Angela Chase
on My So-Called Life
Remember the beginning scene of the quirky teen-comedy Ten
Things I Hate About You, when all the social groups at the
high school are introduced? There are the jocks, the cowboys,
the business kids, etc.
That scene is hilarious to watch because of how extreme the
depictions of the various groups are: the cowboys have lassos
and actual horses, while the business kids sit in a tight circle,
typing furiously on their laptops.
The lesson is obvious: social identity is a delicate beast
because it is something that can quickly turn you into a caricature.
Carving out your identity is not an activity that comes with
instructions and I often wonder if things would have been easier
for me growing up if I’d been part of a defined social
As an immigrant who has moved seven times in her life, I know
that I’ve had more than my share of chances to “start
over” and reinvent myself.
I never really used those chances, though. I always did whatever
I felt like doing at the time, with little thought of social
consequences. Thus, I grew up playing basketball, wearing my
dad’s old jeans to school and listening to Green Day.
This mishmash of styles may make me sound somewhat cool now,
but back then it was the kiss of death to be indefinable and,
more importantly, uncategorizable.
I remember in grade nine, when I hung out with the hippies
and the stoners, wishing I could break through the social wall
and hang out with the jocks. Depression set in quickly after
that and I switched high schools.
I continued along that path of not quite fitting in anywhere
all through high school and into university (luckily finding
some fellow uncategorizable best friends along the way).
Recently, my journey through the land of non-identity has made
me think of everyone’s favourite pop-punk sweetheart
It’s not news that everyone has something to say about
Avril and that most of it is negative. “She’s a
fake punk! A former country singer who once sang onstage with
Shania! She doesn’t even skateboard! The nerve!”
The truth is that sometimes I’m a little bit jealous
of Avril and her neatly cut-out identity. After all, the girl
has a uniform, a pre-planned schedule and wacky Internet websites
named after her (I admit that “Viva la Maggievolution” just
doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Viva l’Avrilution” and
I have to live with that fact).
But reflecting on it now that I’m finally here at the
tail end of my time at university, I can honestly say that
I wouldn’t trade my undefined personal style for Avril’s
I’ve always liked Hilary Duff better anyway.