Lauren Greenfield, Mijanou and friends from Beverly Hills High School on Senior Beach Day, Will Rogers State Beach, 1993 (63.1997)
“I was Homecoming Queen. I was Junior Princess. The seniors voted and I won for Best Physique. I was very flattered. You’re more easily accepted if you’re pretty. People with good looks get away with much more than somebody else would. I think I’m a beautiful person inside, but I really don’t care about my appearance.
I lost my virginity when I was eighteen. That’s pretty rare. Kids now are having sex at twelve or thirteen years old. Even in the fifth grade, little girls dress provocatively, wearing tight bodysuits and everything. I think the younger generations are getting more and more corrupted and crazy. Kids here are exposed to so many things. It’s not necessarily just L.A., but because this is the center of everything -the center of television. The media influences kids. Hip-hop has influenced so much -fashion, kids’ attitudes, everything. Kids try to be like who they see on TV, who they think is cool. So that’s what they dress like. They all wear Adidas and baggy jeans and stuff.
You go to clubs now and everybody is just too cool. They are “hard”. They all have this attitude, this front that they put up. The whole attitude is being hard and being tough and being cool. “It’s phat.” “It’s cool.” “It’s dope.” It the jargon. It all comes from hip-hop. Those are the words that they use in all the raps. Hip-hop has been a huge influence on kids and the way this generation is.
The biggest pressure is fitting in. It’s real hard when you try to be your own person. You are really influenced by your friends. You want to dress like them. You want to be like them. It’s hard to find your own individuality. Especially at Beverly Hills High School. Everyone is really judgmental, very clique-y. There’s pressure to have a car when you turn sixteen and to have everything your friends have. If you saw the parking lot at Beverly High. There are BMW’s, Jeeps, Range Rovers -you know, fifty thousand-dollar cars driven by sixteen-year-olds. For me, not always growing up in Beveryly Hills and stuff, I felt like I didn’t fit in.
I was different because my family struggled a lot, as many families do, but in Beverly Hills you are in a place where kids have no financial problems and can have anything their heart desires. They can go shopping, get whatever they want, always have money to go out to eat, for movies -so much money all the time. It’s hard. I was raised very spiritually by my father and mother. I was grateful for what I had and that I was even able to go to that school. I mean, I was different for them. They lived in these huge houses and could have just basically everything they wanted. Every Easter, go to Hawaii. Winter, go to Aspen.
All the rich Bevery Hills families know each other. So-and-so’s parents are friends with so-and-so’s parents. We lived south of Beverly Hills, where the apartments are. I lived in an apartment where I shared a room with my brother. Sometimes I felt prejudice from the parents who would rather have their kids go out with the kids of families they knew -who lived north, in the big houses. Even the parents wanted the kids to stay friends with the wealthy kids.
I grew up in Costa Rica, which was very different, where you stay as a kid. You’re a kid, you listen to you parents, and you do thing you are supposed to. But here, kids never listen to what their parents say. Kids pretty much end up making their own decisions.
You grow up really fast when you grow up in L.A. L.A. is so fast-moving, and kids really mature at a young age. It seems like everyone is in a rush to be an adult. It’s not cool to be a kid.
Lauren Greenfield, Fast Forward: Growing Up in the Shadow of Hollywood. New York: Knopf/Melcher, 1997, pp. 64-5.
Now on view: GENERATION WEALTH by Lauren Greenfield at ICP Museum, September 20 – January 7, 2018.