In the past month, I turned 20. Clearly, this was a hard pill to swallow for me, because I have found myself sitting in a dorm room decorated much like the bedroom of my 5-year-old self. Since I moved to college, I have tracked the Squishmallow shipments to the local Walgreens, religiously checked the Sanrio website for the newest collaborations and filled my dresser drawers with vintage childhood mementos. The “kid-core” aesthetic captures for me the sticky-sweet nostalgia a newly-turned adult longs for, all wrapped up in a pastel pink bow.
There is something to be said about the longing for childhood we have witnessed by teens and 20-somethings during the pandemic. COVID-19 has caused a shift in our perception of time. Suddenly another holiday, another birthday, another momentous occasion all have passed in the blink of an eye. And with that ever-nagging feeling of aging, the response for many seems to be attempting to find solace in our childhood comforts.
We can see this in the recent revival of beloved childhood icons including Bratz, Hello Kitty, Care Bears and My Little Pony partnering up with major Millenial and Gen-Z brands such as Forever 21, Dolls Kill, PacSun, ASOS, Urban Outfitters and more. The popularity of these collaborations raises the question of why we young adults are craving the familiarity of our adolescence and youth.
I have wondered for so long why my Hello Kitty shirts, butterfly jeans, candy jewelry and Mary Janes spark so much joy for me. To be honest, I believe that they are healing a part of myself that has gone unacknowledged for so long. The isolation and missing out on the “normal” trappings that define the transition to adulthood have sent a lot of us back to bed to snuggle with our Build-A-Bears. From the outside, that may seem like a sad state of affairs – but this is the world we live in now and it just feels good to be surrounded by the cuteness that formed the backdrop of growing up.
These material tokens of youth revive the little girl who still lives inside of me and they are physical anchors to the childhood I am so rapidly drifting away from. Though my days of “dress-up” seem long gone, when I slip on a pair of frilly socks, I actually slip a little back in time. I am transported to simpler days when COVID wasn’t in the picture.
As I age and my life begins to fill with obligations that feel heavy, and as my knowledge of the world builds, my optimism can tend to wear thin. So I wrap myself in kid-core. Sure, we can debate the fashion merits of the aesthetic, but as Teen Vogue explains, “this budding trend seems to be a means for coping, as there’s something increasingly cathartic about playing dress-up and stepping into the shoes of our younger selves.”
And most importantly, kid-core fashion brings us back to a time when things were just more fun.
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Hi, I’m Grace Avery, the Editor In Chief of A Magazine. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.