The ’90s Teen

PHOTO CREDIT: BEVERLY HILLS 90210: CREDIT: MIKEL ROBERTS/SYGMA VIA GETTY IMAGES
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PHOTO CREDIT: BEVERLY HILLS 90210: CREDIT: MIKEL ROBERTS/SYGMA VIA GETTY IMAGES

By David Cohea, ReMIND Magazine

Would high schoolers of the ’90s have preferred to go to school in any other decade? As if!

So much to love about the ’90s. In school, kids carted books around in JanSport backpacks or messenger bags. Color folders were popular as well as multicolored pens. You saw a lot of Troll eraser tops, and Lisa Frank stickers were plastered everywhere. Lunchboxes included stuff like Lunchables, Fruit Roll-Ups and Clearly Canadian sparkling water.

Fashionable girls wore babydoll dresses and construction boots, overalls, stirrup pants with Benetton sweaters, Keds with slouch socks, flannel shirts and Doc Martens. Liz Claiborne was the perfume of choice, along with Juniper Breeze from Bath & Body Works. For prom, you’d go with the taffeta dresses on clearance at Macy’s in the mall.

Boys wore loose-fitting T-shirts, acid-washed or destroyed jeans, fake leather jackets, high-top sneakers and Oakley sunglasses. Anything by Tommy Hilfiger or Nautica. For killer cologne, it was Drakkar Noir.

It was in the ’90s that high schoolers finally got the internet. America Online was the platform of choice and browsers like Yahoo! and Netscape were popular. Social media was years away but many started carrying mobile phones (pre-iPhone; the first flip phones came out in 1995). Music sharing via platforms like Napster arrived by the end of the decade.

Music continued to dominate the culture. Compact discs (CDs) were fast replacing vinyl and cassettes, with 2 billion sold worldwide in 1995. The Walkman evolved into disc players. (“It was like carrying a toaster on your hip,” one ’90s alum recollected.) The ’90s were the decade of boy bands, with the Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men leading the pack. Also popular: teen singers Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Jewel. Rounding out the musical plate were Hanson, Ricky Martin, Nirvana, Alanis Morissette, No Doubt, Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam and blink-182.

On TV you had The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air; Saved by the Bell; Sabrina the Teenage Witch; Beverly Hills, 90210; Beavis and Butt Head; and Blossom. Popular movies: Clueless, Wayne’s World, American Pie, Scream and Boyz n the Hood.