The Edge of Edgy

The Edge of Edgy

Iíve always envied the edgy, watching them from afar with a David Attenborough-esque focus. For those not up with the lingo, an edgy person is classified as an approachable hipster. Itís someone whoís got just a little bit of mystery about them (not the serial killer kind) and walks to the beat of a different (but catchy) drum. From my borderline stalker observations of the wild edgy human, Iíve noticed common trends of wearing clothing in various states of disrepair (because buying new things is playing right into the hands of capitalist bastards) and possessing a devil-may-care attitude. These are both things that I do, so what is the difference between us? Why am I perpetually known as the ďnice girlĒ, while they are known as the badass gods of the street?

If I had known then that this question would drive me on a mission to attain edgy status that would push me to the brink of sanity and leave me with semi-permanent acid reflux and comparisons to a 90ís makeover montage, I may have backed out. But if I had, I would have missed out on a mediocre journey of self-discovery that I wouldnít change for all the pita pockets in Pisa.

Summer is a great thing. Having a break from the drudgery of having to show up to three hours of uni each day is bliss. Itís a chance to replenish savings accounts (to end the weekly sacrifice of choosing alcohol over food) or a chance to get a tan, a beach body and 200 new Twitter followers. For a lot of people, itís a time to be spent snapchatting and instagramming through countless music festivals and parties, with the use of the hashtag #blessed spreading faster than chlamydia at a Hamilton house party. For me, the period of November to February has always been spent on some form of half-assed attempt at self-improvement. There was the summer of ďExercise Can Be FunĒ in which I decided to take up running, biking, lawn bowls, tramping, netball and tennis (the lesson learned is that exercise is not, and never will be, fun). There was the summer of music festivals where, due to poor budgeting, I spent the last of my money set aside for the summer on the all-you-can-eat lunch deal at the Pizza Hut in Gisborne. Somewhat predictably, the recollection of power-chucking pizza and chocolate mousse over the Pizza Hut parking lot after three days of heavy drinking on next to no food and water is my clearest memory of Rhythm and Vines 2012. Broke and nauseous, I had to spend the rest of the break working every day instead of chilling at various idyllic North Island locations. The following summer of fad diets was yet another dark time, with meal plans, investigations into whether sugar was trying to kill me and the dangers of fat-free products haunting my dreams to this day.

Enter my fourth summer as a uni student; the í14 to í15 break in which I decided to become known as an ďedgy chickĒ, overhauling my entire image so that my outside appearance would finally reflect the brooding badass that lurked inside (a.k.a. ďThe Summer of Being an Ultimate Try HardĒ)...

12 November 2014

I begin an open discussion with several friends on the subject of becoming edgy, which quickly turns into a session of open ridicule (aimed at myself). They tell me itís just something you have or you donít. Ever the optimist, Iím pretty sure Iíve got this project in the bag, which I explain to them. More laughter follows. I guess this is going to be a solo project.

18 November 2014

The brainstorming begins. I canít just plunge into this new project without doing some research on the subject, but a quick Tumblr search using the popular tag ďEdgy GirlĒ quickly brings me to despair as photo after photo of dyed hair, crop tops and tattoos pops up on the laptop screen. It looks like Iím going to have to get a facial piercing.

19 November 2014

My goal for the end of the summer is to be wearing the hell out of a black leather jacket, leaning against a brick wall, smoking a cigarette and nonchalantly flipping a coin. And so the search for the uniform of a badass begins. The opshops of my hometown are woefully lacking in leather jackets, so instead I search through old family clothes in the garage. After an hour of sorting through the dusty fashions of the 90s and early 2000s, I triumphantly hold aloft my sisterís oversize Pumpkin Patch denim jacket from 1996 ó itís not made from the skin of a dead animal (I think), but I guess it will do. Macklemore would be proud.

22 November 2014

All great change begins at home. Looking around my embarrassingly pink and purple room, I have to admit that the circa-2006 posters of The Kooks and The Kings of Leon really arenít enough to trick anyone into thinking this is a cool dudeís room. So begins an afternoon of replacing pictures of kittens from an old calendar with posters of hip young bands and uncomfortably hipster Tumblr images. Looking around, I donít feel that my redecoration is having much of an impact, but I figure that immersion is everything and that despite retaining my heart-patterned duvet cover and gold princess curtains, this new look will definitely work its magic on me while I sleep. Maybe.

6 December 2014

I reach into the washing pile to find that a pair of my jeans has a small hole in the left knee. At this moment I know that I have been given a sign. I pick it a little bit (just enough to create an ďI earned this through skateboarding and extreme sportsĒ look), but grow increasingly aware over the course of the day that these jeans are no longer comfortable. I can see the bright red tip of my knee trying to force its way out of its denim prison, so I cut a larger hole. Now I have a very circular, vey purposeful-looking hole in my jeans. This is not skater-girl chic. The evidence of my failure is carefully folded and tucked away into the bottom corner of my closet, to be ignored until further notice.

24 December 2014

When it comes to cigarettes, I have no idea whatís going on. Are they still cool? Will they make me cool? What are they supposed to do? Does anyone actually know? Google doesnít (I checked). Still, obsession drives me to ďbum a cigĒ off my sister. Suppressing memories of rotting eyeballs and diseased lung photos from Year 9 health class, I start smoking that cigarette with all the gusto I can manage (which isnít a lot). Halfway through, I am bored. By the end, I have sworn off cigarettes for life. Turns out when they say a cigarette takes 11 minutes off your life expectancy, what they really mean is that youíll have just wasted 11 minutes powering through this shit stick. You just canít get that time back. Also, there will be mucous.

31 December 2014

So, tobacco was a bust. Maybe I am playing it too safe. Maybe I need to take things to the extreme and get risky. So, the next logical step is to try to get some drugs, right? A fairly simple task in theory, but next to impossible in practice, given that I canít even say the word ďdrugsĒ without sounding exactly like a severe British headmistress and that I have a straight-laced friend group whose knowledge of locating illicit substances begins and ends with Breaking Bad. Essentially, there is not a hope in hell of me being initiated into the enticingly badass underground drug scene of my hometown without a large amount of effort and false confidence on my part. After a fruitless week of chatting up shady-looking characters outside the local pubs, I strike gold at a New Yearís party when a friendís boyfriend offers me a go with his vaporiser. Unwilling to admit to my novice status, I immediately take up his offer and enter the next stage of badassery. After several attempts at inhaling deeply, thereís a building sense of distress. There should be smoke, shouldnít there? Thereís burning but thereís nothing to show for it. How am I stuffing up this badly? By a stroke of fortune, no one has noticed my shameful attempt and I casually pass the vaporiser back to its owner. Shrugging off my misfortune, I reach for the vodka and accept that I wonít be getting high tonight. Ten minutes later, everything is spinning and I power-vomit against some poor bastardís car. Knowing that vaporisers donít give off smoke would have been extremely useful information to have roughly 15 minutes ago, as I am definitely, 100†per†cent, turnt. After Iíve finished decorating the side of the street with the contents of my stomach, the night gets better and I begin to shake my booty in the way only wasted white girls can (i.e. badly). So bad, in fact, is my hip-swinging rhythm that an overenthusiastic slut-drop/thrust combo results in a powerful headbutt against a concrete post, leading to a mild concussion, being recognised as ďthe chick that greened outĒ and passing out before midnight. Hectic.

1 February 2015

Itís the start of February and time is ticking down fast now for my return to Otago. Iím starting to realise that floral floaty crop tops donít cut it in the world of grunge and that I canít rely on one pair of disfigured jeans (still being pointedly ignored) to carry the whole ďedgyĒ thing for me. Itís time to do something drastic. I drive past the two closed (itís a Saturday afternoon) tattoo/piercing parlours in the area and breathe out a sigh of relief. Thank. Fuck.

Plan B time. I buy the lightest brown hair colouring sold at the Warehouse and march home like Iím Genghis Khan on the warpath, about to conquer my mousy brown hair with the weapon of ombre. Mum is less than supportive, asking me if I would like some Ugg boots and jeggings to complete my new look. I tell her that glamorous models and actresses have ombre hair. She says itís a shame that all these stars donít have the money for a full-head hair-dye job. Iím now feeling happily misunderstood (a sure sign that Iíve become too avant-garde for the mainstream) and comb the dye through my hair, throwing caution to the wind and leaving it in for 15 minutes over the recommended time. Badass. While Iím waiting, I envision the end result. This hairstyle will surely be a bold statement, yelling out to the world that I am not content with having bourgeois natural hair colour. Timeís up. I dry my hair to reveal Ö hair that looks exactly the bloody same as before. Howling with frustration, I curl into the foetal position and indulge in an hour of wallowing in self-pity accompanied by chocolate ice cream and Coronation Street.

9 February 2015

Now Iím back at uni, and I think the main lesson that Iíve taken from my experience of trying (and failing) to follow in the footsteps of Miley Cyrus is that appearing edgy is something you canít force. Sure it worked for Miley (although Iím pretty sure her success is all down to bone structure and the Draco Malfoy haircut), but Iíve had to accept that Iíll probably always be seen by most people as a ďnice girlĒ (which could definitely be way worse). I feel like the main character in a standard childrenís movie, where they go through a life-changing journey, beat the bully, gain self-confidence and realise that they ďhad the answer all alongĒ (which is actually super lame). For years my life motto has been ďI do what I wantĒ and I think that may just be what edgy is all about. Although my Summer of Change was a bust, a Summer of Growth has taken place. I realise now that no matter how many floral dresses I own, changing my image to be edgy is ridiculous. I am and will always be, as edgy as I feel, and no one can convince me otherwise.

Peace, squares, Iím off to go listen to T Swift.
This article first appeared in Issue 2, 2015.
Posted 6:26pm Sunday 1st March 2015 by Olivia Collier.