Selling Out This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

April 16, 2008
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
It was a relatively mundane day when I realized that I had spent the greater part of my life fighting myself. In fact, I think it went something like this: Urban Outfitters has some really cool things this month! Ooh, look at that! (Quick inventory of the other in-store shoppers.) S--t. I can’t shop here. This is a store for poseurs. I hereby promise myself that I will never be as lame as these trend-obsessed fascists. I bet they watch “Gossip Girl.” Leave. Now.

Ten minutes later, I exited the store.

Holding two pairs of pantyhose.

And some “10% Off!” stickers given to me by the ­smiling yet carefully ironic saleslady.

I don’t think there’s any good way to put this, so I might as well just come out with it: The advertising got me. The Man’s rip-off of things found in vintage stores sucked me in, used me, and then awarded me a coupon for 10 percent off my next unforgivable sin, as a consolation prize for being unoriginal.

I am a sham. A facsimile of authenticity. My urge to be unique can be too easily bought through an unremarkable marketing ploy. Namely, stickers.

It’s really difficult to stick it to The Man when your family is in ­advertising. As a child, I made up product jingles for entertainment. Yet now, it is nothing less than street-cred suicide to be associated with anything corporate, even if you’re only doing the CD cover ­layout for Miley Cyrus’ new album (while maintaining a distaste for her music).

Is there any middle ground? It’s the very definition of a catch-22: creative people need creative jobs, such as those at advertising agencies. Yet these same people would rather be forced to listen to the aforementioned CD every day until they die than “sell out.”

In an age where “teenage rebellion” is sold in every Hot Topic in every mall in America without a detectable ounce of irony, what are we supposed to do? Suck it up and sell out for a freelance job writing taglines for Skittles? Or cut sugar out of our diet entirely and rent a cabin in the woods in hopes of attaining a simpler, rebellious (dare we say) “self-reliant” Emersonian existence? How do you even go about doing that?

We’re growing up in an age where looking like a “rebel” means conforming, and even Pumas are beginning to look alternative. Maybe there’s no hope for our generation’s nonconformists. Maybe in the end, resistance really is useless (I hate to think what the members of The Clash would say if they read those words).

Or maybe we just need to up the ante. Maybe we need to get off our butts and find the next frontier – the frontier that will make our forefathers of uprising proud, instead of angry at our all-the-anarchy-symbols, none-of-the-anarchy, no-flavor knockoff of a braver generation. Maybe the next important revolution is just waiting to be discovered, the next great counterculture just around the corner. And while Urban Outfitters pays its art department a lot to convince you that they are the next great counterculture, they’re not.

So, anybody got a cabin at Walden they’re not using?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 11 comments. Post your own now!

Caroline H. said...
May 22, 2009 at 6:09 pm
I loved this article. How many people have these views and never say anything. Loll this is brilliant. And I like Catt-Lynn's comment on it. Emo is so cliche. And I am guilty of joining that cliched life style for a brief period of my life, so I would know. But that's besides the point.

I hope you all find your own ways of getting out the irony and all that. But be careful. I lost four of my 'friends' when I spoke one tiny opinion.

Once again, love the arti... (more »)
mo mo foof said...
May 15, 2009 at 6:59 pm
omg i love it so much
BriarRose This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm
so true =]
ladybug31 said...
Apr. 3, 2009 at 6:20 pm
i think that we are getting too caught up in the mass media....especially when the "punks" of yesteryear are dressing up in suits and combing down/ growing out their mohawks. it's a sad, sad time when even the noncomformity seems to only make you conform more
crystalmythology said...
Dec. 23, 2008 at 10:00 pm
teafairy said...
Dec. 16, 2008 at 2:16 am
Dude, go on!!! Make your own clothes; I know it may sound weird, but that site is so awesome, you'll turn into a Threadhead pretty soon. :D
kjeezy(: said...
Dec. 2, 2008 at 6:43 pm
sPEAK IT noww!
Lenalaugher said...
Dec. 3, 2008 at 11:14 am
OK so I am going to admit right off the bat here, that I do were those "brand name" clothes but I have to work for them. Even though I wear those clothes your article makes so much sense to me becuase sometimes thats the the only reason why I stop at a store and go oh whats in there? But i have to point out here in this goes into the terms of books and the good old saying "don't jusdge a book by it's cover." if a book was plain white and the writting was borning and black wou... (more »)
SallySunshine said...
Nov. 25, 2008 at 1:05 am
Wow. So, were you saying that we shouldn't get to caught up in name brand stores. to make ourselves appear as this image we think is okay or cool? if that's the case, then I'm "ALL" for this article. I'm dressing a certain way to impress people and myself. it's just a waste of energy and time. do what you think is okay to dress. not other people. Thanks!!!!

-Dakobie- ;p
author said...
Nov. 19, 2008 at 11:25 pm
Thanks for the support.
Cattt-Lynn|KORRUPTED said...
Nov. 19, 2008 at 1:12 am
I completely agree with what this person has declared. What is our society doing? Alternative is no longer alternative, no longer edgy or weird- it's cool. We think it's so hip to wear black, "fight the power", and do our hair funny, when, in reality, we are no different than the emo kids 40 miles away. There are too many of us "misfits". Emo is cliche. Scene is getting there. The indie people suck. The list goes on. So, in truth, who is "alternative" these days? Do... (more »)
Site Feedback