by THE NYLON EDITORS
Illustrated by MONICA AHANONU
MAY 1, 2018
What defines a generation? Answering this question is tricky. It’s hard, if not impossible, to satisfactorily capture the many experiences of everyone born within a 15-year period with a few catchy buzzwords. And so we usually don’t try to do that. We usually avoid defining a generation by the people who make it up, and instead define it by the events happening as that generation comes of age.
This is why, Gen X is known for the cynicism borne out of seeing Wall Street collapse in the late ‘80s, and for the slacker ethos that defined the spirit of the grunge-infused early ‘90s. Millennials, meanwhile, are defined by the rise in technology, and the instability of a post-9/11 world, one which was soon plunged into a recession. They are, then, ultra-communicative and wary of institutions; permanence is an elusive concept, so why not focus on self-care in the form of buying face masks instead of a home?
And then there’s Generation Z. What will define them? A few answers spring to mind, none of them very optimistic: gun violence, environmental threats, the degradation of women’s rights, an assault on marginalized communities.
And yet, what’s remarkable about Gen Z is that, despite coming of age in politically fraught times, these troubles are not what define them. Instead of being defined by the world around it, Gen Z is comprised of people defining the world—and its future. Gen Z is known for being idealistic, but it’s not an abstract idealism. They know they need to put in the work. They’ve seen the dangers of apathy, they recognize the perils of a population that participates in its own silencing, and so they speak up.
Gen Z is about movement and action; it is full of self-starters and iconoclasts. It is no coincidence that Gen Z grew up seeing that the motto of the leader of the free world was: hope.
Gen Z took that hope to heart, and is now transforming that word into deeds.
This month, we celebrate 25 members of Gen Z, from all different spheres of influence. Each of these people inspires and excites us, and all of them are destined for bright futures of their own, and will doubtlessly help to make our collective future brighter along the way.