Columns / Discourse / April 23, 2009

This is why we’re hot

It’s been a very rainy week in Galesburg. The more bowl-shaped parts of campus quickly turned from puddles to impassable bodies of water, becoming Knox’s unique version of “the Lake Effect”. This April-appropriate weather has brought out from every closet the essential staple of girls aged 18-24: the Silly Rainboot.

Millions upon millions of flashy patterns splashed across campus this week, as freshman and senior girls alike took part in one of their highly-anticipated spring trends. Some characteristics of the Silly Rainboot are that it approaches the knee but never quite makes it there; it can be found sporting a variety of sole thicknesses, with the high-heel set wearing a more wedged bottom and the flip-flop enthusiasts opting for the flattened heel. And, of course, who could forget the patterns, for it is this that makes the Rainboot so Silly indeed. I’m convinced that the way such raingear is designed is for five people to sit in a room, list all discernible objects that come to mind, procure a graphic of that object, shrink it down, and repeat it at regular intervals across the boot. Like skulls? There is a Silly Rainboot for you. Like birds? There is a Silly Rainboot for you. The same can be said for anyone who enjoys citrus fruit, sunbursts, and the fleur-de-lis, which was incidentally used to brand prostitutes during the French Revolution. (Me, I opted for yellow-and-orange comic strip Silly Rainboots, and I’ve seen at least two other girls wearing the same ones each time there’s a storm.)

This is not the only Knox fashion we’ll see spring term, however. Contrary to the many showers we’ve been having, the clear and glaring skies of May are soon to bring all manner of Flashy Sunglasses into our midst as well. These are not nearly as homogenized as the Silly Rainboots, which are made to look distinct but in fact all hail from Target.com. Flashy Sunglasses can be found in all colors, shapes, sizes, price ranges, and outlet malls. Since cornea protection is such a practical matter, it seems all girls rebel against said practicality by making the design of their eyewear decidedly impractical. Far larger than they need to be, and with rhinestones studding the sides of the frames, it’s as if Knox’s female population wears their glasses like a red cape, provoking the sun and challenging UV rays to do their worst.

It may seem as though I’ve left the gents out of this discussion. Yet they, too, allow their inner fashionistas to shine in this most stylish of seasons. The fact is, boys are very unsure of what to do with their feet. As the climate becomes more tropical, do they ditch the tennis shoes and tube socks for something a little less stifling? Do they merely exchange the tube socks for a more subtle and athletic ankle-sock look? Going sockless with close-toed shoes is, of course, a disastrous choice. The smell is permeating, and this is not such a big campus, after all. If the men of Knox College have one hang-up, it seems to be the Flip-Flop. Though their female colleagues have assured them time and time again that they are not feminine footwear, and that you get used to the feeling of a thong between your toes, they just can’t seem to make the leap. Thus, in shorts weather, with the revelation of their lower legs comes the revelation of their most insensible self-conscious choices.

Many other familiar staples will float across our field of vision this term – the graphic tee, the skirt-and-legging combo, the trucker cap – and we will be reminded just how much Illinois can cause us to change. Advanced as we may be, we’re still each a victim, to our region’s extreme weather changes, to capitalism, and to the industries that think separating our big toe from the rest of our phalanges is a necessary and fashionable gesture.

Marnie Shure


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