Leaving a Lasting Impression

Every year when high school seniors are taking their senior portraits, some seem to be drive their parents crazy as evidenced by this email I received.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett,

I am at my wit’s end trying to convince my daughter that the outfit she has chosen for her senior picture is all wrong and is not the type of thing she will want hanging on the wall for years to come. She is trying to emulate a popular singer and wants to look like one of her recent photos that was plastered all over the news, crazy makeup and all. Help me convince her this is not smart, we have been fighting over this for a week. The photography session is scheduled in two weeks.

Desperate Mother

Dear Desperate Mother,

Oh how I sympathize with your plight. It is difficult to get through to a headstrong teenager. One hesitates to demand that she dress according to what you feel is best, so let’s try to convince her in other ways.

You could try to explain to her that this picture will live on, not only in your hallway or living room where family portraits are hung, but in the yearbooks of all those she is graduating with and in the school libraries. Basically, this statement she is about to make in her senior picture will live on in perpetuity. I feel that this fact will not sink in with most teenagers because they feel that we ‘old people’ don’t know what we are talking about.

Here is a way that might drive your point home:

When your high school senior is home, take out your yearbook, get a hold of your parents’ yearbooks, any yearbook you can find. Make a game out of looking at all the senior portraits. When you find a fashion victim from the era the yearbook was published, laugh uproariously and point at it and make fun of it. Say something along the line of: “Look at this guy who thought it would be fun to look like Elvis! Bet he wishes he didn’t wear that rhinestone leisure suit today!” or in my case, I could find several Blond Ambition-era Madonna wanna-bes in my yearbook and say “I remember poor Phoebe wanted to look like Madonna so bad she wore the missile shaped bra even though you can’t see it in the picture. I bet she wishes she didn’t wear that long fake ponytail now.” What I hope will happen is that the stubborn teen will see rather than be told how ridiculous it is to wear anything in a portrait that pays homage to the popular figures of the moment. Imagine running for public office and having someone trot out a yearbook?

I suggest that the best outfit for your daughter to wear in a senior portrait is a classic top with a conservative neckline in a solid color. Jewelry should be understated, a string of pearls and simple pearl or diamond studs. The young lady shouldn’t make such a fuss if you insist she wear this. I’m sure that she and her friends are all taking selfies of themselves in all manner of costumes. Let this in-good-taste portrait be her gift to you for helping her along as she made her way through the rigors of education. One day, I am sure, she will look back and be thankful that you spared her the embarrassment of a bad decision.

My advice for a simple outfit applies to all students for school photos, by the way.

Best Senior Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett.

The Extinction of the Home Economics Class

I was with friends, reminiscing about our high school days. Ahh, nothing like the memories of youth. (Though I acknowledge that I would not want to go back and re-do high school.) The group was unanimous that one of their favorite classes was Home Economics. One of the ladies in the group is a teacher and it seems that, according to her, Home-Ec is no longer taught. She said that it is not just in her district, but everywhere. She says that the material is no longer relevant.

This seems to be a travesty.  I remember my co-ed Home-Ec class as being fun and informative. It taught valuable life skills and gave students, at the very least, a minimum knowledge about cooking, home care, family responsibilities etc…And lest you think that I am severely ancient, she graduated from high school when George H. W. Bush was president and Barbara Bush wore her lovely strand of pearls.

I know that times change, but I cannot help but feel saddened that current students will not know the fun of cooking something new, learning cooking techniques, and learning to sew a simple skirt or pillow. These skills boost one’s confidence that one can care for themselves and others. It seems that modern education forgets this.

Best Home-Ec Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett