A Material Girl

By Jo Dillman, Kutztown, PA

I realized how much I am stuck in the 80s while watching a Madonna marathon on VH-1 recently.

For the first two hours I was in heaven, reliving my teenage years in the 80s. "Like A Virgin", "Into The Groove" and "Papa Don't Preach" were the songs I danced to at the Under 18s disco, dressed in my tank top, short skirt and fishnet tights, my bangles and beads and wearing half a can of hairspray on my head like every other Madonna wannabe.

However, after the "Vogue" video, I had to switch the TV off. Madonna in the 90s seemed more intent on making waves than making decent music.

But if anyone epitomized the 80s it was the Material Girl. The clothes, the, the hairstyles, the music and above all the attitude were Pure 80s. The 80s were the decade of free enterprise, materialism and shameless self promotion, of which Madonna was the undoubted queen.

Madonna and her contemporaries provided the soundtrack to my teenage years. My 80s experience began as a ten year old in '81 with my first crush on Adam Ant. He was followed on to my bedroom wall by Duran Duran, Wham!, a-ha and Jon Bon Jovi. I also loved the synthesizer music of Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys and Erasure. I listened to the Top 40 every week, I read all the teenage magazines and I watched all the music shows on TV. I copied the clothes and hairdos of the stars- progressing from the Kids From Fame look (sweatshirt and legwarmers) to the Dynasty look (pastels and shoulder pads) and then to the college kid look (jeans and baggy shirt) by the late 80s.

The 80s were a time of great change, not just for me and my generation, but for the whole world. The microwave oven, the video recorder and the CD player came into our homes. We learned about AIDS, the hole in the ozone layer, the destruction of the rain forest and the greenhouse effect. But the biggest change came right at the end of the decade with the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Cold War was the political symbol of the 80s. At the beginning of the decade Ronald Reagan was intent on spending the USSR into submission with his Star Wars Policy. In the middle of the decade he was challenging the new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall". Well on November 9th 1989 it happened. It was the end of an era in more ways than one.

Fifty-two days later the 80s were over. It was a sad day for this child of the 80s. I was almost 19 years old, and my happy carefree childhood was over. I was at college and I had to take care of myself. The child of the 80s and grown into a woman of the 90s; in the words of Madonna I had become "a material girl in a material world".

- Jo Dillman, October 1998