tank: old Forever 21 (similar) // skirt: Madison by LuLaRoe c/o Megan McClary // shoes: Old Navy // purse: Nordstrom (similar) // sunglasses: Forever 21 (similar)
photos by Chelsea Laine Francis
When I was in the sixth grade, I got in trouble for being affiliated with a gang. You see, my middle school took gang paraphernalia very seriously, outlawing all sorts of things like colored shoelaces and bandanas. On one particular day, the school even threatened to send home anyone wearing red or blue. To be honest, I don’t recall my school having a particular issue with gang violence, and in hindsight I think these precautions were racially motivated and extremely detrimental. However, that’s a different story for a different day.
This story is about the single time I’ve been sent to the principal’s office. My P.E. teacher was a sweet, round, old man named Mr. Culpepper. He did his best to get us shooting hoops or sending birdies over the net, but we preferred to spend our day walking the big oval track outside the gym. You might have called us a gang, in the sense that we were rarely seen associating with other students. But no more a gang than a gosling of ducks or herd of deer, or any other group of like-creatures (we were connected by our nerdom, trust).
You may remember the following trends from the early aughts: windbreaker pants and microfleece pullover sweaters. On the particular day I was sent to the principal’s office, I wore a bubblegum pink pair of swishy pants and my favorite Pepto Bismol fleece (with the kangaroo pocket in the front, duh). Not one to skimp on the accessories, I wore a matching pink bandana tied around my short, poofy bob.
Mr. Culpepper took one look at me as I entered the gym — unfazed by the fact that I wasn’t “dressed out” in gym clothes, as I’d avoided them all semester — and deemed the baby pink triangle of fabric a violent marker of my gang affiliation. Off to the principal I went, where the school receptionist phoned my parents. Baffled, they could hardly stop laughing, repeating “what, is she in the cotton candy gang?”, to the administrator’s dismay. My parents refused to retrieve me from school over such a bogus infraction, but the office insisted on holding my bandana until the end of the day so I wouldn’t be tempted — by acts of violence, I suppose?
Today’s outfit is a bit of a tribute to my sixth grade self, a cotton candy gang member for life. After all these years, I guess Mr. Culpepper was right; there’s nothing tougher than a pastel bandana.