Unlike your Tamagotchi, your Chia pet and your Furby battery, 90s nostalgia isn’t going to die anytime soon. It just isn’t. Accept the fact, and let’s take a walk down memory lane in our jellies to the golden age of the tween girl, when they shone bright in rhinestones-encrusted skorts and frolicked around the tween kingdom known as the local shopping mall.
All of your wildest tween dreams could come true at the mall, especially if you were frugal with allowance money. Hanson posters and lava lamp desires were fulfilled at Spencer’s; you could get your Angela Chase-wannabe older sis to pretend she’s your mom and bring you to Claire’s to get your ears pierced, then there was the food court (free samples!), the arcade, the candy store... But the real mecca of tween consumerism and the best/only place to back-to-school clothing shop was the Limited Too, the land of flare jeans with stitch-on butterfly bum pockets and tankinis with sayings like “if the shoe fits, buy it!”. Limited Too is – gasp – no longer. The tween dream store is now called, MORE DRAMATIC GASP, Justice.
Well, the Limited Too sort of got justice last night in New York City. No, there wasn’t a Limited Too pop-up shop or a Limited Too auction (could you even imagine?!), and there unfortunately wasn’t even any vintage Limited Too clothing. There was, however, an artistic ‘Happening’, which, according to the invite (Comic Sans font and smiley faces were used), meant that New York-based artist Matt Starr and his "gang" had put together an art show described as "an artistic recontextualization" of Limited Too, this time named The F#cking Limited Too – complete with "Justin Bieber shrine, a private zorb-space, and a 15-foot tampon”.
In other words, we were SO there, along with a slew of other former 90s tweens, now mid-to-late twenty-somethings. Surreal it was: you weren’t going to be passing graffiti or gutter punks asking for a cigarette while walking from the 28th Street 6 station subway stop to the secret location, revealed only to confirmed invite-only guests hours before the show. You would, however, pass a McDonald’s and a curious amount of curry restaurants. It took a while to spot the tiny door that would lead to the show (shout out to the pink-haired beauty whom we correctly profiled with a, “Oh, this must be the right place then...”)
“There was what appeared to be a topless life-sized Barbie in unicorn mask and some DIY party-streamers-as-panties"
We knocked, the door opened slightly. “One moment please,” said the lady with the guest list – a total of three times as we knocked between each five minute-ish cigarette break. The tweenage anticipation (butterflies and giggles) was building, and the faint sound of a severely pitched down and trippy Miley Cyrus song playing wasn’t helping the sitch. When we at last were permitted to enter, we were required to check our shoes. We took our numbered shoe-check Post-its, and up the narrow stairs we went, the walls plastered with 2014’s tween idol cutouts. There was also a chairlift with a cutout of Miley’s face on the seat, which no one hopped on (at least while I was in attendance), perhaps because they too shared the childhood nightmares from Mrs. Deagle’s chairlift death in Gremlins.
The first thought when reaching the top of the steps? Whoever’s apartment this was had a shitload of cleaning to do. The floors, as promised in the press release, were covered in pink faux fur. There was a massive hanging tampon (compete with heart-shaped lollipops attached to its string) and a Justin Bieber shrine, which featured Bieber wallpaper and a massive sculpted bust of the Bieb's face (great attention to detail on Bieber’s updated spiky hair). In one corner, a traditional photo-booth was replaced by a human-sized iPhone which guests took advantage of by smizing for their own phones, and in the other was a spiked Slurpee bar. Molly-friendly Lisa Frank characters bounced around on the ceiling from a projector. Ring Pops, Fun Dip, candy necklaces and lots of glitter and glow sticks were scattered on the furry floor. There was what appeared to be a topless life-sized Barbie in unicorn mask and some DIY party-streamers-as-panties, in addition to cartoonish sculptures of lady parts hanging on a wall.
Perhaps this whole thing was meant to be commentary on the tween girls’ loss of innocence: her “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman” phase a la Britney, and her transition from Limited Too (candy, glitter, pink plastic blow-up chairs, oh my!) to the store's older brand, Limited (Hannah Montana Gone Wild). We could also get really literal with the developed hanging boobs and the tampon: finally being old enough – aka getting your period – meant adios Limited Too, hello Limited. Graduating to Limited was crazy kinds of monumental back then. Or, maybe the whole show was an artsy "ARE THE TWEENS ALRIGHT?" PSA. Whatever it was, it was fun to be a tween again, even for a – yeah, let’s go there – limited amount of time. (And it gave me birthday party theme ideas.) But next time, may we kindly suggest a dELiA*s themed art rave?