So, I’ve been residing on the west coast (Seattle, specifically) for a few weeks now, and my eyes have been as big as saucers as I soak up the surroundings and the scene in my new city. One thing that has been apparent in my recent adventures is this: The Riot Grrrl is not dead.
I’ve voiced that we as a queer collective needed to reclaim flannel (success!), and I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we all live vicariously through our teenage and younger 20-something readers. Embrace the Manic Panic!
It takes real courage to grab that bottle of dye (after you’ve already pre-lightened your hair with some bleach you picked up at Sally’s) in your bathroom, but such is the way of the traditional Grrrl. As a stylist, I have to advise you to please just go to your hairdresser for at least the lightening process so that your locks end up a bit more chic and less blotchy and dramatic, because trust me, if you don’t know what you’re doing that’s the best situation that you’ll be looking at — the worst being your hair falling off in your hands.
Manic Panic is a perfectly suitable product however, to achieve those technicolor shock locks that every Riot Grrrl is after. An all time hero of mine that has certainly blasted the bottle are Ani DiFranco. The thing about extreme hair color is that it has a tendency to fade, so if you are going for all one shade, it’s not the worst thing you could do by touching it up at home in between salon visits.
There is so much history and so many politics wrapped into the actual movement that sprouted the beloved RG and a lot of it is tied up in fashion. Ripped tights, outrageous shades of Doc Martens and mangled T-shirts and school girl plaid are simply part of the uniform. Last winter we saw a major comeback in the department of Docs, and I think it’s fair to say that they’re still in vogue. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, news flash: Everything 90’s is back. Take it or leave it, which includes bringing back a thing or two from the time of zines. Bring on the neon pink tights.
I think the coolest thing that I ever took away from the movement, though, is the way they used their music as a weapon and lyrics spoke openly about serious issues that weren’t talked about as openly like, feminism, rape — even sexuality. It was trendy and it sparked an incredible movement of empowered women that didn’t take any crap, and as a 14-year-old with a small voice and no way to relate or even understand what it meant to be a lesbian, I clung to it. I think I could still recite “My I.Q.” if I tried.
To me confidence is the best thing you could ever put on and Ophelia was indeed revived through the sparkle and magic of their Mohawks and their communes. Oh Bikini Kill, how you still make me swoon.
It’s more than music, though: It’s spoken word and writings, it’s all things DIY, it’s as much about embracing your individualism as it is community outreach. It’s everything good and creative and inspiring. There’s something for everyone in the Riot Grrrl movement, so embrace part of it — Manic Panic, or otherwise.