I'm a millennial mom and I don't care what Gen Z thinks of my style—and neither should you. What I can get behind? Their tech-savviness and dedication to the fight for social justice.

By Melissa Mills
February 18, 2021
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Have you heard the news? Skinny jeans, parting your hair to the side, and using the little laughing/crying emoji are so over. Like, totally canceled and uncool. It's all over TikTok. Wait, you're not on TikTok?! Oh no...

An image of a group of teenagers protesting.
Credit: Getty Images.

Just kidding, of course, but there is a bit of a feud going on between Gen Z and millennials right now. Born after 1997, Gen Zers are just a bit younger than millennials—who, you know, were born in ancient times (1981 through 1996)—but they're hell-bent on dissing some of millennials' favorite things. Some say they'd literally choose death over ever wearing skinny jeans. Dramatic? Yes. Life-altering? No.

As a Certified Millennial Mom, let me officially say: I do not care what Gen Zers think of me or my style. I may not personally love skinny jeans and look better with a center part, but my fashion choices these days have more to do with what makes me happy and comfortable than what the kids are into. Honestly though, I can't even imagine wearing anything besides leggings at 7 months pregnant while chasing around my 2-year-old after nearly a year of the pandemic. And, by the way, I'm only 33! Not that that really matters, but I'm still somewhat cool. Or at least on the cool spectrum. I'm even on Clubhouse!

OK, "cool" might be a stretch, but I'm aware of what's trending, what's going on in pop culture, and what people are buzzing about. Even so, my motto since becoming a mom—and especially since COVID-19 changed life as we know it—is 100 percent "you do you." Love the vintage look of those baggy jeans? Buy a few more pairs. Can't imagine losing the volume of that side part? Then put away the comb. Trends are cyclical anyway (see Exhibit A, or basically what I wore all of middle school). But please, whatever you do, stop letting anyone else's opinions get to you. There's so much more to worry about!

Despite all of this, Gen Zers aren't really so different from millennials. These two younger generations generally agree on things that matter, like racial equality and climate change. That's what we should be focusing on—not whether using the words "adulting" or "doggo" automatically puts millennials into the dreaded "old" category. In fact, my fellow millennials, there are a few Gen Z things we can learn from and be inspired by.

1. Their Expert Use of Technology

They're technology pros. And since they grew up with social media they're great communicators and well-informed.

2. They Push Forward Inclusive Views

Gen Z is more progressive and open-minded when it comes to people who look differently from them, as well as interracial and same-sex marriage. In fact, they're the most racially and ethnically diverse generation.

3. They Actively Participate in Social Justice Work

They're not just vocal about racial injustice—Gen Z is more likely to attend protests and work to create change. Nearly 90 percent support Black Lives Matter and 44 percent want to educate themselves on supporting anti-racism.

4. They Fight Hard for Causes They Believe in

Seriously, Gen Z is the generation of activism. They're fighting for stricter gun laws68 percent say school shootings are the most important issue facing the U.S.—to prevent future mass shootings—many of which their peers experienced firsthand.

5. They're Open About Mental Health

Gen Zers are more stressed, but they're also advocating more for others experiencing anxiety and depression and normalizing mental illness on social media.

6. They're Mindful About Gender

One-third of Gen Z knows someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns, but a majority support gender equality. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 60 percent of those ages 13 to 21 believe gender is broader than "male" and "female."

7. They're Extremely Passionate

Passion drives their hard-working attitude. Research has shown that mentorships can really make Gen Z thrive.

But when it comes to fashion, let's just get one thing straight: Low-rise jeans can stay in 2003 where they belong. Hopefully that's something we can all agree on.