Ah, yes, the '90s. 'Twas a decade so amazing, we simply can't resist revisiting it time and time again. And, luckily for us, we have plenty of mildly embarrassing pictures to aid us in our nostalgic journey. If you were anything like me, you very likely snapped some or all (seriously, no judgment from me) of the followed classic '90s photos because, hey, it was the '90s. We were too busy being awesome to realize capturing our gold lame fanny packs in photo form would someday come back to haunt us. Even so, I've got no shame in my '90s photo game. If my old albums weren't hidden in the attic somewhere, I'd take you all on a pictorial tour of my youth — complete with ill-conceived bangs and an abundance of tie-dye apparel.
Another day, maybe. One which will undoubtedly change the way you look at me forever, so let's hold onto any illusion of hipness I may still have before I ruin it with that picture of me in a crocheted cat sweater. For now, reminisce (and/or commiserate) with me over the myriad ways '90s kids memorialized the decade via disposable cameras. Thank God we didn't have smartphones back then; I'd be willing to wager this list would have been a whole lot longer ... and likely more mortifying, too.
1. The Glamour Shot
The '90s glory days of the Glamour Shot may be long gone, but those super campy portraits of our past will live on forever in our hearts. Of course I took one, and hell yeah I rocked my matching sequined American flag jacket and cap. Was I also holding a fake carnation? Naturally. And while I didn't buy into the big hair fad outside of that studio, by the time I left it my hair was gigantic enough to fill the entire frame. It was so large it had its own orbit — my friends were reduced to mere satellites in its shadow.
2. The Spice Girls Pose
Not only were '90s girl groups everyone's jam, but '90s groups of girlfriends were the blissful norm too. Thanks to the Spice Girls, female posses felt totally empowered by their girl power. This manifested in many ways — Halloween costumes, boxing out the boys at middle school dances (more to come on that) whilst belting out "Wannabe" and, most importantly, the emergence of the Spice Girls pose, whereby the click of a camera shutter would magically make each girl in a click fall into the precise post corresponding to the Spice Girl they most identified with. It was to the '90s what the Charlie's Angel pose was to the '80s.
3. The Prom Pic You Wish You Wish You Didn't
Whether it was the hair that defied gravity, the layered organza prom dress plus choker combo or just the dorky way you posed in front of a cardboard prop, you aren't alone if you have at least one '90s prom pic you wish you could pull a collective Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on everyone who's ever laid eyes on it. Of course, while I would love to zip back in time and tell my 16-year-old self not to cheese out in front of that fake gazebo, I wouldn't trade my '90s prom experiences for the world.
4. The Movie Theater Photo Booth Menagerie
I'm not entirely sure when this quit being a thing, but in the '90s you couldn't swing a stick without hitting on of those portable little photo booths inside of your local movie theater. I very distinctly remember making ridiculous faces and pulling the old fake make-out trick ("Hey, we're kissing, only my hand is secretly wedged between our lips") with my BFFs. I also remember pulling the old real make-out pose with my high school sweetheart. These were fun. Let's bring them back, mmmkay?
5. The Swoopy Hair, Intense Gaze Portrait
If I had a dollar for every time a cute boy tried to recreate that whole Leonardo DiCaprio look while posing for a picture, I might actually have as much money as Leonardo DiCaprio today. You know what I'm talking about — slight head tilt, intense gaze into the camera, a flip of the swoopy hair everyone was obsessed with. This wasn't relegated only to the fellas, either. We '90s girls had a special knack for locking in on the camera lens like a tiger stalking its prey, and I need not remind you we were hair-centric, too. Forget America's Next Top Model; '90s kids were smizing it up decades ago.
6. The Awkward Middle School Dance Memento
The thing about prom was you picked your date or they picked you, so you were likely dating. Somehow that makes those overly posed prop photos less embarrassing than, say, your mom popping up at your middle dance a few years earlier — you needed chaperones at that age, after all — to snap a candid shot of you dancing arm's length from your crush in an awkwardly slow, methodical spin.
7. The Teen Angst Photo
It was the height of the grunge era, and Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were the king and queen. Understandably, we were all exercising a bit of teen angst and in our case, that meant rebellious pictures of '90s kids giving the camera the middle finger or sticking our tongues out or any other form of quiet rebellion against the proverbial man. Also, it just made us look even cooler — not that we needed much help in that department, what with our band shirts, flannel button-ups and Converse.
8. The Blurry Pic from the Nosebloods of Your First Boyband Concert
The day had finally arrived. Your parents were actually letting you go see Backstreet Boys (or NSYNC or insert your favorite '90s boy band name here) in concert with your BFFL, and you couldn't possibly contain your excitement. Who can blame you for taking a pic to immortalize the moment in time — even if you were sitting so high in the stands that Nick Carter looked like a tiny dancing matchstick. Also, it's worth noting you didn't just take one of these photos. You blew through your first disposable camera before those dreamy boys even hit the chorus of "We've Got It Goin' On" and wound up decimating your allowance loading up on backup cameras at the merch stand for the bargain price of 12 bucks a pop. I should know — my first concert was TLC, MC Hammer and Boyz II Men (it's totally OK if you want to be jealous right now). Just imagine how many disposable cameras that took!