Don't front, we've been loving America

Kwanele Ndlovu Singles Lane
Hip-hop star ASAP Rocky has seemingly become a fashion icon for many of SA's youth.
Hip-hop star ASAP Rocky has seemingly become a fashion icon for many of SA's youth.
Image: Theo Wargo / Getty Images

I can assure our dear Patrice Motsepe that I know at least one person who loves America. My son!

And as a bonus, that kid has never spoken ill about Trump either. Just this week, while hunting for an outfit to wear at his school's Valentine's dance, I had to remind the kid that this is not America!

While I was browsing through red T-shirts, he says he wants to wear a poloneck. A black poloneck. Huh? Then, as if that was not enough, he says "... and a few chains around my neck".

He wants to wear all this in the peak of African summer, under disco lights.

Shaft! The movie Shaft spoilt fashion for almost 50 years. That is what I thought. Then I remembered that the kid's generation do not even know about Shaft.

He just wants to look like some guy called ASAP, and a few others that wear polonecks poolside at a party while the heat is so bad the girls start swelling in their bikinis.

I am actually thankful that he has a brushcut on his head and cannot complement his hideous hip-hop look with five shoulder-length braids. The first time he sent us photos of ASAP Rocky as "December hairstyle inspiration" we tried saying it is a girl's hairstyle. Unfortunately, those stereotypes do not cut it with the Skrr Skrr generation.

They know terms like "gender-neutral" and actually use them in debates with their parents. My best defence was keeping clippers at home and ensuring that his afro does not thrive beyond 3cm in length. That, and the classic parental "No! It is not negotiable" and enduring tantrums for a week or two.

I have conceded that I have little control over what he wears and will just have to grin and ask "when did you buy that?" when he comes out of his room looking like an unpaid extra in a crunk music video. I will take photos of him and keep them for his corporate days when he starts criticising his kid's fashion influence.

I bet his generation would still be crediting the West for influencing the culture of the youth, and forgetting that they themselves mirrored everything popular on that side of the globe. Just like my generation. We have just always loved America.

I grew up with boys who wore basketball vests and XXL bermuda shorts and it seemed like their parents insisted they buy sneakers two sizes bigger.

But nothing prepared me for just how the baggy clothes would shrink to polonecks, tight tees and skinny pants. So much that last year I eventually succumbed to allowing the kid's grey school trousers to be altered and made into skinny fits.

There is just always a new American fashion trend that is plastered in music videos all over YouTube and cascades to our homes. And maybe fashion is a small aspect of influence of behaviour and culture, but it has been a powerful tide.

I am not sure about all of Africa, but I have accepted that in my son's life I am just a tool and a financial means for him to look, speak and dance like his favourite American rappers.

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