(February 10, 2000)

A few months ago my high school freshman and I went shopping for shoes for the Homecoming dance. “These would be perfect, Mom,” Jennifer gushed, picking up a pair of strappy silver sandals perched atop three-inch platforms.

“You’re crazy,” I said. “They’ll kill your feet, and you’ll be lucky not to fall off and break your ankle.” I knew this, of course, because twenty years ago I suffered through my cousin’s wedding wearing an almost identical pair of platforms. Why in the world were they back in style again? Would anyone who wore them once ever purchase another pair?

Well, the answer to that last question is yes, if it’s for her daughter’s first formal. I gave in. I’m pleased to report that Jennifer did not break any bones, but her feet started to hurt in the school parking lot. Memo to self: save those shoes as a warning for the next generation.

My three daughters are coming of age at the beginning of the twenty-first century — not yet the world portrayed in the Jetsons cartoons, but one that is more high-tech every year. Still, fashions will continue to be recycled in this third millennium, and teenagers will find new ways to make their parents shake their heads and say, “I can’t believe you’re wearing that.” I froze my knees and thighs below my mini-skirts as I walked to my Connecticut high school. This winter Jennifer and her 12-year-old sister, Allison, go off to school in midriff-baring tank tops. (When did bra straps become a fashion statement?) Their 9-year-old sister, Molly, wears bell-bottomed jeans with flowered embroidery. I had a pair of those, too — in high school. “What clothes will our kids be wearing?” wondered Allison out loud the other evening.

I smiled, imagining a day when rap and hip-hop are played on the World Wide Web oldies station and my children’s children sit in front of computer screens wearing virtual tank tops and mini-skirts. In that scene, platform shoes are definitely not in the picture.

With a Perspective, I’m Debbie Duncan.