I grew up in the 90/s with both stylish and cheesy trends. Even though some trends were fresh, a lot of them were recycled from previous decades. Some originated with back stories we didn’t even know about.
Enter jelly bracelets. In the 80’s, people such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper made them cool. In the 90’s, Gwen was all about it, and apparently so was I. I twisted them up when I wore them just as Gwen did. It made me feel cool. Then in the 2000’s, I guess the trend came back and they were out in stores again, in which I bought a crap ton. So much color variety.
In my teens, I found my jelly bracelets in Claire’s and Hot Topic just like the other teens around me. But for other teens, they weren’t just a trend. They had a crude alternate meanings, which I’m not sure if people actually took part in. Kids around me spoke of it in a giggling nature, but I never heard of anyone performing any of the sexual acts each color bracelet represents.
After gathering pictures for this post (which was supposed to go in a different direction), investigative-me found these bracelets were worn by the Chola group in the 70’s for reasons other than fashion.
Chola fashion was supposed to signify Latino struggle in American society. People of the South American descent have been struggling in the U.S. since the 1920’s, and the sad part is that they’re still fighting to be viewed as equals in this country today. They’ve been discriminated, ripped from their homes, and were forced to sell their property and land. Since the 20’s, girl gangs were formed where the women wore beehive hairstyles (big enough to conceal razorblades and guns), heavy makeup, and knee length skirts (which were considered short and inappropriate at the time). Chola groups represented beauty, style, and a badass attitude that made them a group not to be messed with. It was their statement and attitude that made it known they weren’t gonna sit there and be driven from their homes anymore.
In the 70’s, these group of ladies wore black jelly bracelets, which were twisted up around their wrists and fingers. There’s a whole lot of tutorials and images online showing you the intricate styles they had their bracelets tied up, but no meaning behind why they wore them. I figure they signified important undertones relating to their place in politics and society, but no kind of research will teach me what people from the Hispanic culture went through and are still going through. You have to give them credit for standing up for their culture and right to exist when the rest of the world continuously lets them down. Their fashion isn’t always a choice; it’s a necessity. Fashion can represent all tradition, affliction, and oppression at the same time.
Next time you wear jelly bracelets, think about how they didn’t originate in the 80’s, and Madonna was not the first to wear them. They were important to a culture that suffered for a long time in this country. They may be a fashion statement for one group, but for another, they represent a struggle and fight for equality.
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