An Ode To Nomination Bracelets, the Beloved Jewelry of Mid-'00s Middle School Girls
Like most people, I'm not a big fan of cleaning my room. Sure, I'll pick up a few sweaters off the floor or make room for new beauty products on my dresser, but intensive, full-on cleaning? No thanks. After awhile, though, the mess tends to get too big to ignore, and I'm forced to spend an afternoon taking apart my closet and unearthing all the items buried underneath my bed. Such was the case earlier this week, when, in the midst of a cleaning spree, I discovered a handful of items from years past I didn't realize I still had, mostly from the middle school era of the mid-'00s. There were Converse sneakers, Livestrong bands, and — in the best surprise of all — my nomination bracelet.
For those unfamiliar, the nomination bracelet is a piece of jewelry that was hugely popular a number of years ago, especially in the Westchester/Long Island/NYC area. A series of silver links, each charm has a different image or word, the point being that wearers can choose which ones fit their personalities best. Love swimming? There's a pool charm. Big on horses? Buy a pony charm. Want you and your BFF's initials plastered on your arm for all the world to see? There's charms for that, too. Basically, whatever you felt represented your seventh-grade self most, you could show it on your nomination bracelet.
For a middle school girl in the mid-2000's, at least in my area, having this bracelet was the ultimate status symbol, and it's easy to understand why. These things are expensive. Each individual charm is about 20-40 dollars, depending on color, and most bracelets carried a dozen links, if not more. The bracelet itself, free of charms, is fairly cheap, but really, why would you buy a plain silver bracelet when you could load it with tiny images that represent the deepest layers of your personality? Nomination bracelets were meant to be filled.
And filled they were, even though I can't understand how so many parents actually agreed to buy them for their kids. Didn't they balk at the idea of spending upwards of 200 dollars for a preteen's bracelet filled with pictures of poodles and declarations of "I love camp?" Apparently not, as I, and plenty of every girls I knew, somehow managed to fill our nomination bracelet with as many charms as could fit, all of which perfectly fit our 11-year-old selves' interests and mindsets.
Now, of course, that's not quite the case, but that's what make re-discovering them so much fun. My bracelet, for instance, had the eternally-loved items of a pencil and an ice cream cone, for instance, but it also had a turtle (I guess I liked them?), a drama mask (for my then-burgeoning career as an actress) and a basketball (because... nope, there's no explanation for this one. I am extremely uncoordinated, hate sports, and am 5'2"). Still, I lucked out; some of the charms available to buy are a whole lot more embarrassing than a couple examples of forgotten old hobbies. A sampling:
A cell phone
Because nothing screams "I am a mid-'00s teenage girl" than an overlarge, hard to handle flip phone!
Look, I get it. Birthstones are pretty, they're great bonding tools, etc. etc. But when every single 12-year-old girl starts buying every possible thing in "her color," it gets a bit much, you know?
"I Love NY"
Because Rent! And Uptown Girls! And The Devil Wears Prada!
A Chinese Character
Because more likely or not, you had no idea what it meant, but it just looked so cool. Sort of the middle school version of a tattoo.
An @ sign
Full disclosure: I had this charm, and it wasn't for the @ in your email, but the @ as in AOL. In my defense, my friends all had this, too, so I wasn't alone in my AIM-loving geekiness. Still, oof. At least I was ahead of the curve, right? Nope — this is just embarrassing.