Generation WARS
Marie Claire Australia|September 2021
Skinny jeans, sexy selfies, celebrity icons … With opinions diverging and society dividing down generational lines, we asked a Gen Z, a Gen X and a Gen Y (millennial) to weigh in on today’s hot-button topics

TALKING ABOUT MY GENERATION

Three women, three age brackets, three strong stances.

Maeve Galea

THE GENERATION Z

BORN: 1997 – 2012 (aged 9 – 24)

GENERATIONAL TROPES: Dancing on TikTok. Saving the planet. Hating millennials.

Kathryn Madden

THE MILLENNIAL

BORN: 1981 - 1996 (aged 25 – 40)

GENERATIONAL TROPES: Reading Harry Potter. Buying houseplants. Being snowflakes.

Dilvin Yasa THE GENERATION X

BORN: 1965 – 1980 (aged 41 – 56)

GENERATIONAL TROPES: Growing up as grunge-loving slackers. Minding their own business ... unless they’re a Karen.

It seems there’s conflict brewing, so in the spirit of a good debate let’s start with an opening argument. What makes your generation superior?

GEN Z: We grew up on a diet of High School Musical, memes and (more recently) #MeToo. As the first generation of digital natives, we’re never far from our smartphones and while having all that information at the tip of your fingers can be overwhelming, it’s also empowering. That’s right, we know what you did last century and we’re here to fix the mess you made. Climate change, BLM: you name it, we’ve marched for it – and all in our school lunch break. As a generation, we’ve found a collective voice and we aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo and demand change.

MILLENNIAL: Look at you, so worthy and woke! We, on the other hand, are the generation everyone loves to hate: Boomers say we’re sensitive and entitled, you Zoomers call us basic. But in spite of the pummelling from all angles, we’ve achieved some pretty cool things. Our extreme anxiety has normalised conversations about mental health, our laziness has sparked the creation of an app for everything and we straddle the analogue/digital divide. Never mind having the world at your fingertips, we learnt patience from the shrill bleeps of dial-up internet. And those Y2K halter tops you’re sporting? We wore them the first time around.

GEN X: Do I have to debate? Gen X tends to stay out of these intergenerational arguments (to the point where we’re often forgotten). If I must, I will say we’re ardent feminists, responsible for smashing glass ceilings and paving the way forward for younger generations of women (you’re welcome). We were responsible for the #MeToo/ #TimesUp movements, we established many of the things you rely on today (Google, for a start) and we did it all as we rewound our cassettes with pencils. We’re change-makers, yes, but I think what really sets us apart is that we’ve never lost our ability to have a laugh: at you, the world around us or ourselves.

But didn’t this feud start over a pair of jeans? What’s your preferred style?

GEN Z: Loose fit with either a straight or wide leg, usually in baby blue. I don’t trust people who wear skinny jeans, major Karen energy.

MILLENNIAL: I’m a little confused that Generation Z has waged warfare on the cut of our jeans … aren’t you guys supposed to be all-inclusive and unjudgemental? For the record, I like a rigid high-rise with a straight and slightly tapered leg.

GEN X: Skinny, all the way. Take it from someone old enough to have done the whole ’80s stonewash, ripped and baggy grunge of the ’90s and the Britney-era bootcut; it doesn’t get any more flattering than a skinny.

Fashion aside, in 2021 we’re more obsessed with beauty than ever before. Why?

GEN Z: Are we really surprised that staring into a camera and seeing our own reflection looking back at us every single day – be it on Snapchat or Zoom – might be making us a bit obsessed with the way we look? It would be easy to buy into the moral panic that as a society we’re all becoming horribly vain, but I think it’s far simpler than that: we’re being photographed more than ever before (and in much better quality).

MILLENNIAL: And there’s a lot to love about beauty – you can’t deny the feel-good factor of a juicy sheet mask or a pop of lip colour. But I do think social media has a lot to answer for here. How can we not become fixated on our flaws when there are filters on Instagram that rid our skin of pores and shave a few inches offour waists?

GEN Z: I think the obsession with beauty is all about feeling a sense of control in a world that’s currently in freefall.

But we now have access to treatments that essentially change our faces. Do you find that liberating or stressful?

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