Why Shopping Malls Meant Everything To Me As A Teen
Online shopping is amazing — I don't have to leave the comfort of my couch, can add everything I want to my cart, and even snag a sale or two. Not to mention I can sell clothes online while I'm at it! But, lately I've missed the feeling of going to a real, brick-and-mortar shopping mall.Target and T.J. Maxx are great and all, but they're just not the same.
I find myself reminiscing about my carefree mall days and how simple things were back then. My friends and I didn't have a huge allowance to buy whatever we wanted, but we didn't care. All that mattered was being able to hang out at the mall as often as we wanted. We would take our time to explore different stores like Express — who finally added extended sizing to their clothes — and felt like we had free reign to window shop without hearing comments about what we could afford or not. I even got my ears pierced twice at the mall.
But really, going to the mall shaped who I am — and ultimately what I like — today.
My First Trip To The Mall
Photo by Sam Lion / PEXELS
The first time I went to the mall with my friends without supervision was in 2006. We were in the 8th grade, and our parents agreed we could finally be alone for a couple of hours. While some of my friends were more concerned about boys, I was excited to visit the stores my mom didn't like to spend a lot of time in — Wet Seal, Limited Too, and Forever 21. I cared more about imagining how I would dress as an adult, trying on a bunch of clothes I'd never buy. One of my best friends and I spent at least 30 minutes trying on different outfit combinations, comparing notes about what we liked or didn't like with every outfit.
That's probably where my love for all things fashion and style was born — in different mall dressing rooms. Looking at magazines and cutting out clothes to make my own paper dolls was one thing, but actually trying them on was another. I'm not ashamed to say I still love to try on clothes...but this time I buy them if I really like them!
How The Mall Shaped Me And My Interests
Photo by Anna Tarazevich / PEXELS
When our plans didn't include window shopping or swooning over cute boys, my friends and I convinced our parents to let us go to movies alone. I'll never forget when AMC was first introduced to one of the malls in my Florida hometown. It was like having our own version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. We would pool our money together to buy popcorn, sour gummy worms, and soda — usually Sprite or Coca-Cola — to have something to munch on while watching the latest movies. We saw movies like Dreamgirls, Step Up, and The Devil Wears Prada, each holding a special place in my heart to this day.
The Future Of Malls Across America
Times have changed and going to the mall isn't as popular as it used to be, but I know I'm not alone in my mall nostalgia. According to a recent study, 50% of Americans actually do miss going to the mall. A lot of us grew up during a time when the mall felt like one of the IT places to be. In a way, it was our refuge from school life and a way for us to spend as much time as we could with our friends before going our separate ways post-graduation.
So maybe brick-and-mortar malls will come back (according to that same study, 40% of Americans wish they had a mall near them). Maybe they won't. But no matter what happens, I'll never forget the impact going to the mall had on me and who I am today.
Do you miss going to the mall as much as we do? Let us know in the comments!
Header image via Ron Lach / PEXELS
Editorial Intern, Jasmine Williams, covers a variety of topics from home decor to beauty and everything in between. She has bylines at Motherly, The Everymom, and Byrdie where she wrote about motherhood, beauty, health and relationships. Jasmine knew she wanted to be a writer when she realized she was actually interested in reading the articles in her mom's favorite magazines — and she may or may not have ripped her favorite articles out to study them later. When she's not working, you can find Jasmine playing make-believe with her toddler, spending an undisclosed amount of time in Target or TJ Maxx, and searching for a family-friendly puppy to add to her family.