It happens every so often, that you wind up looking through old high school photos. Maybe you're visiting your parents place and late at night, you start rummaging through old boxes. Maybe you're having a wine-filled night with friends and the old albums come out. Maybe they're thrust upon you by some inopportune Facebook tagging. However you come across them, those photos, in all their printed out, hard copy glory, exist. We '90s kids might not have an archive of easily accessible pictures of our youth online, but make no mistake. Our high school awkwardness was still very much catalogued.
Most of my own high school photos involved nearly totally plucked off eyebrows, white pants, and various rave-ready sparkly crop tops. It might sound like something a Tumblr-kid would wear today, but actually looking back, all I can do is cringe. And most '90s kids feel the same way when they look back on old photos, even if Gigi Hadid is now rocking chokers like it's 1996. I often wonder if kids who are in high school now will have the same sorts of feelings in 20 years, when they inevitably click through the albums upon albums of photos of themselves on social media. In the meantime, here are some feelings only '90s kids will understand when looking at old high school photos.
1. Feeling Old As Hell
The '90s weren't all cringe. OK, they totally were, but the point is a lot of '90s cringe style is back with a vengeance, and when you look at old photos you think you could rock the same look now and be considered pretty fashion-y. If only you weren't in your 30s...
One main thought '90s kids have when looking back at old photos is confusion. Like how the hell did our parents let us getting away with dressing the way we did some times?
The main thing I often think when looking back is "I'm so glad my eyebrows grew back." We can thank the likes of Drew Barrymore (the height of '90s cool) for the nearly totally plucked off eyebrow look that nearly left many of us eyebrow-less for life.
The feeling of seeing yourself in your grunge phase, your Gwen Stefani "Just A Girl" phase, your "I just watched The Craft" phase, will have you reflecting on the seasonal nature of life and living. Awwwww!
Every so often a '90s kid will pick up an old photo and think "Buffy the Vampire Slayer, eat your heart out." Because yes, sometimes your '90s game was so on point you can't help but swell a little at how well you nailed your look.
6. A Desire To Share
A lot of time spent looking at old high school photos is spent wanting to share them. Because everything is in hard copy, '90s kids never got to experience digital sharing culture growing up. So we look at old photos trying to find the one that's not too embarrassing, but that's also funny enough that other '90s kids will share the same feelings of nostalgia we do.
7. Cultural Cringe
Generally focused on the thought "I can't believe I actually got the Rachel".
Sometimes when you look back all you can do is laugh. Seeing all the crop tops and combat pants you have to ask yourself, "Was everything just one big giant rave party in the '90s?"
When you're looking at '90s high school photos, you can often mentally time stamp them. Like when I see one and can say "That must have been from 1998, around the time I thought I was Britney Spears." And then you ridicule yourself. Not in a mean way, just in a way that '90s you totally deserves.
10. Deep, Deep Regret
We idolize the '90s, but the '90s were also filled with regretful moments. Like blue eyeshadow. And platform Skechers. It's OK to regret these things.
You're always thankful that your archive of photos wasn't recorded online in the '90s, because now there'd be no where to run and no where to hide. At least when you're finished looking at your photos you can casually close the album, and put them back on the shelf to gather dust. There was never any risk of you going viral, and you're thankful for that.
As dumb as the '90s were, you'll always look back with a feeling of wistfulness, and missing that silly era of matching your snake print pants to your snake print tube top.