1995 was not the start of anything good for me. Nor was 1996, or for that matter 1997 through to 2001. From my first day of 6th grade until my high school graduation, I dealt with a lot of bullying and teasing. It was an awful time that I don’t talk about often because I’d rather just bury it. I try my best not to think about those days in terms of anything beyond the music I liked. When I think of the 90s I think solely of the music and nothing else.
In 1995 MTV still played music videos and as I got home each day from school, the first thing I did, even before putting down my backpack, was to turn on MTV and escape into music. I remember the exact moment I first saw Gwen Stefani and No Doubt. I turned on my TV and “Just A Girl” was already playing. Up until this point, the only person I ever cared about was Madonna but suddenly here was this girl who had a similar look but carried it so differently, so cool in a “I’ll kick you in the teeth but look cute doing it” kind of way.
As the video finished I ran into my bathroom looking for makeup to play with. I wanted to make my eyes look like hers in the video but didn’t have any eyeliner. I was in 6th grade and the only “makeup” I ever used was an acne concealer that didn’t match my skin color (yeah, the days were rough ones). I searched my mom’s makeup bags but couldn’t find what I was looking for; she only had brown eyeliners. Then I saw her mascara and I had an idea. I ended up dipping a toothpick into mascara to make my own eyeliner. It was so stupid of me to do and I was lucky I didn’t poke my eye out but when I was done I felt transformed. And so it began; quests to be just like Gwen Stefani, which, over the years, has never really manifested into any kind of success.
So here are the 10 reasons (although there’s probably much more) why trying to be like Gwen Stefani has not worked out for me:
During one of my million viewings of No Doubt’s live concert film, (on VHS) Live in the Tragic Kingdom, I spoke aloud to my mom my wish to have eyebrows like Gwen Stefani. My mom looked at the TV, then back at me and told me that all she did was tweeze and shape them and that I could too. Almost immediately I ran to my bedroom to get to work. Who knew it was that simple?! I had never tweezed my eyebrows before and found it to be quite painful on my first go around. I also felt immediate regret. Looking as if I had chicken pox only on my eyelids, I had to stop before reaching the Stefani look I was going for, leaving me with not so wonderful Junior Prom pictures. That setback didn’t stop me, however, I kept going. By my senior year in high school my eyebrows were nothing but a thin drawn-on line. At 31 years old I find myself still waiting for them to grow back, a slave to eyebrow gels and powders. Gwen’s coincidentally, appeared to have grown back, and quite nicely if I might add.
Gwen Stefani 1, Tara 0
We all remember when Gwen Stefani stepped out onto pop culture radar with No Doubt in the mid 90s and how she was different and badass funky from the get go. Everything she did was just, cool. Including the fact that she wore bejeweled bindis. While on my quest to be everything Gwen, I decided that I needed to be on this journey on my own terms and in my own way. (Insert laugh here) So instead of putting a bindi in between my eyebrows as they are meant to be, I thought I’d be cooler if I put several bindis at the ends of both of my practically non-existent eyebrows. Luckily, no one had camera phones in the 90s, so I am not plagued with the photographic evidence.
Gwen Stefani 2, Tara 0
3. Hairstyle Fails
I’m pretty much in belief that anything Gwen Stefani does looks good and therefore is good. For a short time she frequently sported a hairdo consisting of twisty hair knots all over her head. I thought it looked cool. So naturally, I parted my hair into 7 sections and put them all up in knots and went out in public. It was the first and last time, as it wasn’t a good look on me. Also, it was not the kind of thing that someone who wants to avoid teasing does. To add insult to injury, not too long ago, I saw my girl sporting that do again, bringing back some not so good memories, again making me so thankful that I didn’t grow up in the iPhone generation.
Gwen Stefani 3, Tara 0
4. Plaid Pants
It’s almost impossible to be a Gwen Stefani fan and not want to emulate her fashion sense. So, OK, maybe some of my Stefani-inspired hairdos didn’t quite pan out (twisty knots wasn’t my only endeavor) but I felt I couldn’t go too wrong with plaid pants. But I did. Perhaps I just didn’t get the right style of pants or the right plaid pattern, but regardless it didn’t compliment my confused high school/college figure. And it you were wondering what kind of figure that was, let’s just say, not Gwen’s.
Gwen 4, Tara 0
5. Red Lipstick
From the very first moment I saw Gwen Stefani I was compelled to put on and play with makeup. In the almost two decades of my insane fandom, I must have purchased hundreds of different red lipsticks in search of “the” one. I have yet to find it. I’m a pale gal, but so is Gwen, so either I am constantly passing over the right shade for me, or I just fail at life.
Gwen 5, Tara 0
6. British Boys
When I learned that my most favorite woman in the world was dating the love of my life, Gavin Rossdale of the rock band, Bush, my teenage self was quite distraught. I slowly had to come to terms that perhaps Gavin and I weren’t meant to be. I would not give up hope however, that somewhere a lovely British boy was waiting just for me. During my freshman year of college on Long Island, I actually met one but it didn’t work out. I am currently living in Texas, married to a man that says, “y'all” and “reckon”. So, I traded in for a different kind of accent. Gwen and I will just have to call it a draw on this one.
7. Heartbreak Poems
One of the things that most endears me to Ms. Stefani is how she always wears her heart on her sleeve in all of her songs. No Doubt’s fourth album, “Return of Saturn”, at times feels like it comes straight out of my own personal journals. She writes from her heart and while seeming like someone who has everything in life, reveals in her words insecurities and doubts that I think all women have at some point or another. It was and still is inspiring, something I felt I connected with and believed that I could do too. I had been writing what feels like all my life, but Gwen’s lyrics sparked immediacy in me to write more. Before I knew it, I had stacks of notebooks full of poems about heartbreak and self-doubt. I knew if I could just meet someone who was musically inclined, I could provide them with chart topping lyrical gold. Alas, my Backstreet Boys notebooks remain private and unsung.
Gwen 6, Tara 0
8. L.A.M.B. Fashion Purchase
I would just like to point out that when I heard the lyric “Where did my lamb go?” on No Doubt’s “Rock Steady” album I immediately thought it would be super cute to purchase a stuffed lamb and make it a shirt that looked like the album cover. I did so and brought it to a concert in NYC and was able to hand it to my idol while on stage. She posed and danced with it and I felt like I was flying. Not too long after that 2001/2002 concert Gwen announced the start of her own fashion line called L.A.M.B. Coincidence? I’ll leave that for you to decide. Anyway when L.A.M.B. was started in 2003, I was a college student and could not afford designer duds. I had my eye on a black zip up hoodie with “L.A.M.B.” written all over it since Gwen was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone wearing it. I told myself that I would save up and get this hoodie. A couple of years later the day came when I found it on EBay and decided it was time to treat myself. I created an EBay account just to make my first L.A.M.B. purchase and was so damn excited. About two days later my bank account was hacked, with a little over $300.00 being spent on Internet purchases I did not make. My bank was able to clear it all up, but it was thought that my EBay transaction was what sparked the whole thing. I got my hoodie and it was/is beautiful, but G-Damn.
Gwen 7, Tara 0
Well this one is a no-brainer. Have you seen Gwen’s abs? At 45 and a mother of 3, she looks better than I ever have or probably will. She remains a fitspiration for me but I am beginning to think she may be a freak of nature, and I say this in the most loving of ways. While she says her favorite food is pizza, I’m inclined to believe that she never actually eats it and that may be where I’m going wrong.
Gwen 8, Tara 0
10. I’m Tara
Though we both rock names of only four letters, I feel, with some sadness, that this may be where our similarities end. But it doesn’t have to be a fail and I am choosing not to see it that way. I am not Gwen Stefani. I am Tara. Part of being me is being a fan of hers, amongst other people and things, but there is a difference between being a fan of someone and trying to be someone. I’ll choose to blame my silliness on the fact that being a teenager can be so hard and confusing. I was in a time where I wanted be anyone but myself and found a strong and empowered character in Gwen Stefani. You could say she got me through those years, as did other musical artists, but she actually taught me an incredibly valuable lesson. We can’t be anyone else but ourselves. If it’s not from you, nothing else is genuine. All my aforementioned fails or rather, missteps, show a girl trying to figure who she is and what will work for her. We can’t learn without making a few mistakes every now and then, no matter how embarrassing. All of the things I tried to emulate were things I felt inspired by, though not everything worked for me I did find ways in which they were, and discovered my own path. So I choose to be me and I think we both win on this one. Although, I’m still going to work on those abs. ;)