Culture / Entertainment

Generation X Jumps Into the Gen Z vs. Millennials Culture War — Defending Side Parts, Skinny Jeans and the Laughing Crying Emoji

Taking the "Old" People's Side

BY // 03.04.21

Millennials are being taken to task on social media by the “younger” generation ― Gen Z. Until now, the rest of us have been kicking back on the sidelines, eating popcorn, just enjoying the show.

It seems those once large-and-in-charge Millennials are getting roasted as “old and out of touch” for three things in particular ― their side part hairstyles, their wardrobe of skinny jeans and their over usage of the laughing crying emoji.

It’s becoming an epic battle of slap downs and clap backs, with TikTok and Twitter becoming ground zero.

I would say that the Millennials and Gen Zs are feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys, but that would require further explanation and quickly betray my own age. As a Generation X girl, myself, all I have to say to you Millennials out there is: “It sucks to be old.

In this fight, you’ll be glad to know that Gen X is firmly by your side. We stand in solidarity with you in defense of our own side parts, skinny jeans and most importantly the laughing crying emoji.

The Side Part Debate

Side parts versus center parts? Girl, you don’t know the half of it.


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Until you’ve sported a Dorothy Hamill wedge, Farah Fawcett’s frosted feathers, a poodle-do Motley Crue perm, and a Rachel from Friends shag, you really don’t know hairstyles.

Perhaps not during your lifetime, but in decades past, hairstyles used to change dramatically, even seasonally. Now it feels like we are locked in a time warp. Year after year, it’s parted down the middle. And it just grows longer and longer.

News Flash: That’s not a hairstyle. That’s a lazy Saturday, when you can’t find your baseball cap.

Ali MacGraw wore this already worn-out center part in Love Story way back in 1970.
Ali MacGraw wore this already worn-out center part in Love Story way back in 1970.

Middle parts are nothing new. All the ancients wore it out. The Greeks, the Egyptians and the Romans were all about a center part. But if the only hairstyle you’ve ever gone with is a long, straight, center part, no wonder why you’re willing to go to war defending it.

The reason us “olds” are typically side parters is that center parts remind us of Civil War era tin types, where no one ever smiled. You know, like fashion icon Mary Todd Lincoln. Also, it’s just kinda sad. Like a flashback to the 1970s, reminding us of shag carpet and Ali MacGraw’s character in Love Story. Spoiler alert ― she dies in the end.

In recent years when you dyed your hair gray, in what can only be described as “generational appropriation” of our graying follicles, we didn’t feel the need to call you out on it. Heck we were flattered. It’s the only time you ever wanted to look like us.

After decades of teasing my beloved feathered bangs, one day many years ago, my hairstylist finally delivered life changing news. She essentially cut me off, refusing to cut my bangs ever again. She explained that I was “Too old to have bangs.” It stung, I’m not gonna to lie.

But if you live long enough, (and if your hairstylist cares about you at all), that difficult conversation is bound to happen someday to you too. Regarding your long, straight hair. And yes, even your center part. Buckle up. All good things come to an end.

Now About Those Mom Jeans

TikTok and Twitter ranters have also taken aim at skinny jeans. It seems Gen Z has a penchant for other denim styles such as the straight leg, the boot cut, the boyfriend and even the disaster known as “mom jeans” that have inexplicably resurfaced.

In a Freaky Friday worthy twist, it seems that our skinny jeans have now become mom jeans, and our old mom jeans are now all the rage again. Try to keep up.

In a Freaky Friday worthy twist, skinny jeans are now mom jeans and mom jeans are cool again.

Millennials clapped back that they are “not taking fashion cues from the generation that ate Tide Pods.” That’s a solid point. I would like to add that even your mom wouldn’t be caught dead in those high-waisted, figure erasing, sausage casings.

Mocking skinny jeans in favor of mom jeans is like pining for Jane Mansfield’s cone-shaped bra, or rummaging through granny’s underwear drawer in hopes of unearthing her sweaty girdle. Let’s keep moving forward.

Jeans have been styled so many ways. You can wear them ripped, colored, bell bottom, flare, fancy stitching, bedazzled, patchwork, cut-off, baggy, pleated front, cropped, cuffed, capri, jorts, jeggings, frayed hem, low rise, high waisted, dark, medium or light-washed, bleached, faded, ombre, stone washed, acid washed, button fly, zip fly, overalls, jumpsuits, big pockets, no pockets.

Though I lived through them all, I don’t miss any of these fashion faux pas. I only wish I had saved every one of them, like a time capsule to be opened at some point in the future.

I could have marked them up 400 percent and sold them to Gen Zers on Poshmark. So many regrets. So many missed opportunities.

Back Away From the Best Emoji

I know it seems like we’ve been texting and adding feeling with emojis forever, but really they only arrived in 1990. For Gen Z, that is their entire lives, since the first ones came on the scene in 1997.

While they can’t read or write in cursive, emojis are their language. You can see why it means a lot to them.

As a mother of teenagers, I was absolutely forbidden from ever texting the winky face emoji to my children years ago. “OMG that’s so embarrassing mom.” And the gopher-toothed, shocked-face emoji has long since joined the banned list

Of course once I learned it was irksome to receive emoji-laced texts from mom, I must admit that I began adding tons of them to every text I sent my children. Just anticipating their disgusted eyeroll and head shake upon opening them is a treat. I was literally crying laughing.

Now it seems that Gen Z has dubbed that very emoji (officially titled Tears of Joy) a dead giveaway that you are OLD. Welcome to the club Millennials. It was only a matter of time, until you joined our ranks.

A Gen Zer takes a break from playing Fortnite to remind us how old and out of touch we are.

All generations use slang to relate. Generation Z for instance uses an hourglass to denote a good figure, while a pregnant woman is someone you’d like to impregnate. Now where is the court ordered child support emoji, I can’t find it anywhere?

The Puss in Boots-esque pleading eye emoji means seriously cute, and the maple leaf is not about Canada, it stands for cannabis.

Strings of emojis are also popular, including the spider-lip-spider which refers to false (or aggressively mascaraed) eyelashes. And the most sarcastic emoji is currently the sparkle emoji, commonly used to bully someone.

After attempting to “cancel” the laughing crying emoji, Gen Z began replacing it with the skull or the coffin emoji. The idea is they are dead from laughing. What a downer.

Unless you’d rather see a rash of rainbow unicorns with their heads exploding, crawl back in your coffin and back away from our laughing crying emoji.

Trust me Gen Z, if you take that away from us, you only will be making things worse for yourselves. We might even bring that winky face out of retirement. Until there is a more accurate, I peed my pants emoji, we’ll just pretend that we are only crying laughing. Sorry. Some generations can’t handle the truth.

We might be old, but the laughing crying emoji is still very relevant. How else could we illustrate how we feel when we see your uniform of mom jeans and middle parts?

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