Round Table: HCOZ's Cringe Phase


Although my entire life could likely qualify as a cringy phase, there are some distinct moments in time that I would very much not like to relive. For example, in eighth grade I decided to get bangs and a bob cut at the same time and then insisted that the bangs either be pushed to the side or back with a headband. On top of it, I also had braces and that’s about all most need to suddenly look odd. There was also some really hideous clothes and I blame it entirely on the fact that my mother purchased them and my cousin once drove six hours just to correct my mother’s style. If I could talk to my middle school self, it would be to say that Aeropostale graphic t-shirts, bootcut jeans, and straightening your hair to curve out dramatically at the bottom is an awful look. Please brush your hair.



Although I’ve had many “cringe phases” in my life, my prime time for cringe was in elementary school, specifically the later half of it (from the 4th to 6th grade). For me, this was the time where friendships became overhyped. In other words, it was no longer about becoming friends with anyone and everyone, because everyone started forming their own groups, or better yet, “cliques.” Friendships also became very gendered as the whole “girls rule and boys drool” mentality came into play, along with the whole concept of “crushes.” I sadly dropped a few great friendships I had, which happened to be with guys, because it was considered weird for me to have guy friends platonically––and I hardcore followed the crowd at this point of my life, so I didn’t question and mindlessly dropped them.

However, the cringe part of all this comes in with just how much I clearly didn’t understand friendships. Every female I encountered, I believed it was my duty to make them my “BFFLAD,” the ultimate best friend an elementary-school girl could ever have. They almost instantly turned into my “sista,” and I diluted the “I love you” market to the point of economic collapse by saying it almost every other sentence. I also constantly made the cringiest Picnik (shout-out to those who remember this website!) collages of me and -insert name of current BFFLAD-.

Quite a few friendships I referenced in my “Dear Toxicity” article in fact came from this time period, because I was so naive about friendships. There were two main things I never learned in elementary school: there is more to keeping a friendship than kissing a person’s behind (like hanging out on a somewhat consistent basis, finding common interests, and so on), and there is such thing as to having more than one friend. Because of these two lessons never learned, my elementary school years were filled with many failed one-on-one [cringy] friendships.

(photo created on Picnik by one of my elementary school friends)


    As any other normal human being, I had a cringey phase for longer than I had hoped. It was fourth grade when I was battling my parents as they were preparing me to get ready for my orthodontist to put railroad tracks across my teeth. I was so fearful of getting them because I had always been a woos when it came to pain, and who could possibly want sharp and pointy objects cutting up their mouth? That same year, I was forced to get glasses as well. Now, I was a four-eyed brace face. Ugh, it was the worst. I still had all of my baby fat considering puberty hadn’t quite hit me yet too, so nothing was going well. Imagine little Emma with her small glasses, crooked braces teeth, a tight slicked back low ponytail with a middle part, and tight clothes. Not the prettiest sight. Thank god for puberty, though, because by the time I hit seventh grade, my teeth were straight, I got curves that all of the other girls had by sixth grade, I learned how to straighten my hair, how to position my hair, and the glasses were gone. Looking back, it’s for the best that my parents forced me into looking like a little dweeb because the glow up was worth it. I’m just glad that I wasn’t the only one!



My cringe phase started in 4th grade and lasted… a while.  It can be summed up by 3 words: live, love, peace. I was absolutely obsessed with peace signs and tie dye and I honestly was convinced that I was a hippie.  I was ~born in the wrong generation~ before it became a meme. I also had terrible layers in my hair, until I decided to chop it to my chin on a whim - which was not better.  Then, I had tragic side bangs for YEARS and I had feathers in my hair for much longer than it was a trend. Wow, a lot of my cringe came from poor hair decisions. Of course, I had braces, too.  One time I decided to get pink wires in between my front two teeth and it looked like I had gum stuck in my teeth for months. I wore a cami every single day and you bet it was always showing, either because it was pulled down to my knees or because my shirt was tied to the side with a hair tie.  Oh, and I was that friend that made photo edits on ‘Picnik’ for a living. LMS if you want a personalized Picnik collage!



When I think back to my cringe phase, the number one word that comes to mind is emo. Yes, that’s right, I was a full on emo kid obsessed with shopping at Hottopic, spending my summers at Warped Tour (even though my parents never let me go), and trying my hardest to encapsulate Hayley Williams’ aesthetic. I so desperately wanted to be scene, although my parents absolutely refused to let me dye my hair or wear too much eyeliner. I wore band tee-shirts every day, spent way too much time on Tumblr, and things only got horrifically worse when “Twilight” came out. I wrote my name as “Melissa Cullen” on actual homework assignments I turned in and spent all of my free time re-reading the series or looking up pictures of Robsten. Side bangs covered half of my face for a solid four years and I truly believed I was either meant to marry Alex Gaskarth, Jack Barakat, or Edward Cullen. Those were the days.




As someone who went through SO MANY cringey phases, I can understand every single phase there is. There was the emo hot topic phase, the rainbow tye-dye peace sign phase, the fierce phase, even the “I wear dresses every single day” phase. The one important take-away I realized after ALL of these phases, was to learn to NOT brush my hair. As someone with naturally curly hair, I cannot brush it while it’s wet. It makes my air about 4x the size it was originally. Once I can learn how to actually take care of my hair, my life got increasingly better. I also got full bangs in ninth grade which was a solid great look for so many years. The cringey phases were so important! Now I know different things about style and the old phases taught me so much more. Looking back on the pictures is a great time, and it’s so easy to laugh at the ridiculous things you used to wear. (P.S. shoutout to my Edward Cullen shirt that I wore… too much).



While most people have their awkward phase in middle school, I unfortunately had mine way too late in the game. Junior year of high school was my prime cringe worthy Ajsa phase in my life where I wore WAY too much eye makeup, questionable hair styles, and did a photoshoot anywhere and everywhere. Someone should’ve told me my hair was way too thin for a high pony or a bun that always fell apart during the school day anyways. Also I must’ve thought I was a volgger because I not only did photoshoots in my backyard everyday after school,but also in a Lowe’s, or in with whatever goofy object I could come up with a funny caption for. To top it all off I also did the classic lip sync videos on my snapchat but instead of posing seductively I chose to get deep into character when reciting musical theatre songs. How I ever had friends on Snapchat I’ll never understand.