1. Roller Rink Birthday Parties
All the cool kids had at least one party at the roller rink. It was so popular, my parents bought me my own rollerblades. Not roller skates—rollerblades. I know roller skates are ironically cool again, but this was 1995. We suited up in elbow pads, knee pads and even helmets. In 4th grade, I went through a phase where I wore wrist guards all the time, even when I wasn’t skating, because I was too hardcore.
2. “Spraining” Your Ankle
If you didn’t sprain your ankle at least once a week, what were you even doing? Certainly not trying to get out of gym class. In the 90s, Ace bandages were considered couture. If you were lucky enough to need crutches, you had it all figured out.
3. Lillian Vernon Everything
Step aside, hipsters, because this woman put Helvetica on the map years ago. When the new Lillian Vernon catalog came every month, I would study it and circle my favorite things. You know, practical stuff like a pet staircase and a 12-year school picture frame in the shape of a school bus.
4. Being Upset About Not Having Bunk Beds
Bunk beds made sleepovers infinitely cooler, and my parents were obviously trying to sabotage my social life by not getting them for me. I longed to be the cool girl with the red metal bunk beds outfitted with denim comforters. Just think: I could switch from the top to the bottom bunk whenever I pleased! Oh, the freedom!
5. Temporary Tattoos, Hair Wraps and Hair Beads
It’s not that I wanted to change my appearance. It’s just that all the other girls had them, and they looked so cool. I used to buy temporary tattoos every week from the grocery store vending machines, and I loved the thrill of not knowing what I was going to get. I was never allowed to have hair wraps or hair beads, because I was a ballerina and “it wasn’t ladylike.” I am still resentful, and in my adult life will undoubtedly rebel and get both done to my hair (likely while intoxicated on a tropical beach vacation).
6. Klutz Craft Books
Nail art. Friendship bracelets. Face paint. Whatever you wanted to become a pro at, in the 90s, there was 2/3 of a spiral-bound book plus a bottom-heavy craft kit for it. They made the best birthday presents and did not easily slide onto bookshelves.
7. American Girl Dolls
Dolls that came with a book series that encouraged little girls to read! Right? Wrong. More like, dolls that had a ton of adorably overpriced accessories that if you didn’t buy your daughter, you were a bad parent. Everyone knew Samantha was the best one, but then things got creepy when you could order custom dolls that looked like you.
8. Lamenting Not Being A Gymnast
The Fab Five from the 2012 Summer Olympics are cute, but they don’t hold a flame to the ladies from ’96. I was mesmerized by their routines every night, and wanted desperately to be their BFF. Two girls named Dominique on one team! Think of the inside jokes that must arise! When Kerri Strug stuck her vault on a sprained ankle, I was ruined. For some reason, my parents didn’t let me drop out of school and move to Houston to train for the Olympic team, so I stayed on the path to Midwestern blandness.
9. Not Knowing How to Feel About the New Generation of All That
First it was just Amanda Bynes, but then it was Danny Tamberelli’s generation, too, and things got a little out of hand. I could tell the cast was growing a little too quickly, but I still liked it… which I in turn judged myself for. Sidebar, I think Josh Server is responsible for my sexual awakening. Some women had The Labyrinth, I had Snick.
10. The Olsen Twins
Or: Being Upset About Not Having a Twin Sister. If you were a girl in the 90s, the Olsen Twins were just about the coolest people on earth. This was only made worse by my being an only child: I had nobody to play with except plastic toys, and Mary-Kate and Ashley had each other. If I had a twin, maybe my parents would have gotten us bunk beds.