Wendy Harmer: the dag who hung with cool kids

Comedian Wendy Harmer is a self-confessed dag. She recalls all too clearly the popular surfie teens from Oberon High School in the late 1960s.

Their heavily bleached blonde hair was a giveaway.

Now both a comedian and editor-in-chief of The Hoopla, Harmer admits that while she was a dag, she often socialised with the cool kids.

”I was in the netball team with the surfies,” Harmer said. “Being part of the team of cool kids naturally meant our netball uniform was made out of Hawaiian print material and we wore puka shells. I think I was the only brunette too.”

Spending her high school years across three separate schools, she often found herself in the unfortunate situation of wearing the wrong uniform as her dad never got his act together to buy a new uniform in time for when she was due to start at a new school.

Negotiating her way out of popular kids giving her a hard time, she instead found herself hanging out with a daggy raft of people who sat somewhere in between the nerds and the popular kids.

“If you’re spending all that time concentrating on being cool, you’re really not paying attention to all the other things you probably should be paying attention to. So it’s all a bit of a burden I think.”

Melbourne comedian Geraldine Hickey tends to agree, but her school years at Xavier High School and later Albury High were largely spent seeking the approval of peers she idolised, in her own dorky way of course.

She thought it made complete sense that popular kids were less likely to succeed later in life as they expected everything to land in their laps without having to impress anyone along the way.

“There was this one guy in high school who I just thought was the bee’s knees. I heard he works in a fish and chip shop and he’s put on a heap of weight, probably because he sits around eating flake all day. That was the height of his success,” she said.

“There was a guy I met on drama camp, who was a drama nerd, and he actually went on to be a stunt double for a Star Wars film.”

Hickey said the best thing for teenagers to do is to just be themselves at high school as those are the years that tailor how you will deal with situations later in life.

Originally published at The Canberra Times.


About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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