What must they have thought, peering through the keyhole or leafing through the grainy snaps, those imaginary voyeurs of our teenage years? For there must have been some, right? The imaginary voyeur - the neighbour narrators of the Virgin Suicides, the boys who long and lust in sweaty-browed silence - was the one for whom we dressed up and pranced around when our parents weren't there. Early afternoon in the school holidays would find us assembled at a house - any house will do, as long as it's empty of adults, we lived in a teenage world - where we would break out our meagre supplies of lipsmackers and cheap drugstore eyeshadow supplemented by the glamourous things we managed to pilfer from her mother's makeup cabinet. We might have a theme - movies and television shows were popular, Summer and Marissa were favourites, we had the keds and the clean faces after all - or we might not. We wouldn't spend too long on putting it on. We'd turn our straighteners on but we rarely used them. It was never about perfection anyway.
It was always about taking photos. One of us - the one with the camera - would herald us out into the yard and we would start to pose with the practiced insouciance of fourteen year olds. How ridiculous it seems now, but then also how necessary. What else can you do, aged fourteen, when your babysitting money won't stretch to a movie ticket and your parents are at work? We had seen thirteen and we thought it was thrilling and all, but we weren't about to sneak out to spend hours with a tattooed guy who didn't go to school. We just wanted to take some pictures. Being young is all about taking pictures. You filled your computer with them, snaps at arm's length with your friends before school dances, photos of feet and hands, pictures of you jumping into a swimming pool wearing your best dress. Sure, you can still invite your best friends over to put on makeup and take photos when you're a grown up. But it doesn't have that same earnestness, that same sense of ritual, that same sense of import and significance that every picture has when you're a teenager. Where every afternoon was a mini photoshoot, a chance to show off to your friends - and those imaginary voyeurs - a chance to prove how well you had studied that well-thumbed copy of Teen Vogue, a chance to make another memory, another personal joke to enshrine with stickers and glitter pens in your scrapbook.
Seeing this Miu Miu campaign took me right back to those afternoons. Remembering those days - and days and days - that we spent trying to take a perfect profile picture, the afternoons in my garden crafting "nature photos" (it mostly involved smelling flowers and fake laughing at the camera while rolling around in grass wearing tea dresses), those hilarious afternoon when we found a whole cache of my friend's mum's 1980s uniform of big sweaters and patterned leggings and suddenly we were Andy and Duckie and Blaine , pretty in pink. This campaign has that same sense of yearning to be caught out in costume, of wearing clothes that are too big for you and makeup that you don't understand, of spending whole afternoons with your friends, taking photos and doing your hair and trying so hard to be beautiful.