At a House Subdivided: 1950-1990
Side by Side Side by Side: Teenager's Rooms

Teenagers began to receive attention as a special group after World War II. An entirely new subculture arose around their music, dress, and entertainment. While this subculture was welcomed and even promoted by merchandisers, it was a mystery to parents. One of the few places that teenagers were allowed to express individuality was in their rooms. Three Illinois teenagers in 1990 shared the following thoughts about their room with us.

34 Ann Melone's room "A messy room denotes a messy mind. This is a myth that has been perpetuated by parents all over the world in order to shame their children into being as obsessively neat as they are. Most teenagers, like myself, live under a stressful regime headed by tyrannical teachers and despotic guardians. In Utopia, a room would be a blank canvas primed for self-expression. Unfortunately we are forced by our elders to use our rooms as tools for passive resistance. A mess undermines authority and shows our refusal to conform and grow up. It works very well."

Ann Melone, 16 years old, Carbondale, IL

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© Illinois State Museum 05-Dec-96