Bootgirl Power – By Jenny Woo
When I was thirteen years old, I was miserable. I had acne, I had only hand-me-down clothing from my older sister (who was 3 sizes smaller than me), I had no friends, and worst of all, I felt like I didnt belong in any crowd. I was exposed to pictures, music videos, and songs from major mainstream pop stars, and I just could not relate. I had no idea what they were singing about. The supposed universal topics of broken hearts, dancing, and the expression of teenage sexuality all seemed like distant and irrelevant subjects to me. I knew that I would never look like them, I would never live their lifestyle, and more importantly, I knew I never wanted to be like them. I felt lost, different, and profoundly alone. Then, one day, my life changed forever.
I was in junior high, eating alone in front of my locker as was my usual routine, when I came across an old fanzine lying on the floor of my school hallway. One of the other students in the school had probably been reading it and accidently left it behind. Having nothing better to do, I started flipping pages. My eyes caught an image that I had never seen before in my life a woman with spiked up blue hair, studs all over her black leather jacket, and wailing on a guitar. It was a picture of Bekki Bondage, and that was my first exposure to women in punk rock. I decided then and there that instead of unsuccessfully trying to fit in all the time, I would do my best to stand out. I was inspired by Bekki outrageousness, her energy, her unfaltering self-confidence, and I made it my own mission to find that sense of passion and assurance in myself. I ripped the picture out of the magazine and pasted it into my locker as a reminder, and I’ve still got the photo after all these years.
Going punk was one of the most liberating experiences of my life. Instead of trying to squeeze myself into whatever teenage girl fashion there was at the time, I cut my own path and made my own clothes. I found that by creating my own aesthetic, I avoided a lot of the societal pressure placed on adolescent girls to look and act a certain way. Instead of focusing on my body image, I embraced the fact that I was a unique person with a multi-dimensional world view and personality. Through bands such as The Wednesday Night Heroes, Cock Sparrer, and Riot 99 I learned to triumph the values of authenticity, independence, and critical thinking, and I have no doubt that this subculture helped me create the strong sense of self that I have today. Punk rock is a potent medicine that I would prescribe to any young woman going through a crisis of confidence.
However, as the years went by I found myself getting more and more interested in oi! music, and eventually cropped in as a skinhead. I still loved punk, but I no longer felt the need to spike my hair out in a million different directions in order to show the world that I was different. I already felt the difference on the inside, and I wanted to find a subculture whose values incorporated not only the importance of being distinct, but also a sense of community, a sense of self-pride, and a sense of loyalty. I love the fact that oi! music is still working-class DIY music, but I also love the fact that behind its