When I was in high school, back in the previous millennium, the homecoming mum that had everyone in school buzzing was one that had a base of three flowers on the front (also known as a triple, then considered the maximum size) attached over the wearer's shoulders to another triple on the back, festooned with yards of ribbon dangling from both sides. "She could be naked under there!" we gawked.
It was a simpler time.
Mums—named for the single chrysanthemum flower traditionally given to women by their homecoming dates in Texas—have now entered the age of excess. Triples? Please. These things are now bigger than sandwich boards, constructed from not only silk flowers and ribbon, but also bells, charms, bows, stuffed animals and LED lights.
It's part Pimp My Ride, part Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, a completely impractical fashion statement somehow worn both to class and to the football game it celebrates. Like breakfast tacos, homecoming mums are totally inexplicable to non-native Texans, and that's pretty much how we like it.
Still, we can't help but look on in amazement at the mum of Jersey Village High School senior Alexis Hernandez. Cypress-Fairbanks ISD posted a photo of Hernandez, her boyfriend Cristian and her giant mum to Facebook, noting that "[h]omecoming mums come in all shapes and sizes, but this one ... is perhaps the biggest we have seen!"
The post quickly went viral, with over a thousand shares. This earned the predictable comments from adult strangers about how mums these days are "over-the-top" and "not classy," as if adults publicly judging and criticizing a teenager's craft project is, you know, a super classy move.
Seriously, it's too big? Bro, do you even Texas? Let's give snaps to any girl who can navigate the delicate art of blinking LED lighting and wearable battery packs without interrupting her perfectly placed arrangement of gold football-themed charms.
"When I was on the drill team my sophomore year, two seniors had these two big mums, and ever since then I told my mom I wanted my mum to be huge senior year," says Hernandez. She started with the triple mum she wore as a freshman and kept building onto it every year.
"My junior year I used poster board and I kept adding more mums, more feathers, more ribbon, more lights, just adding, adding, adding. For the final version I think I had 26 mums on it. I just wanted the most humungous mum I could think of. You know, go big or go home."
Hernandez, an A student who hopes to attend the University of Texas at Austin or the University of Texas-San Antonio next fall and eventually become an oncologist, says her final mum creation took about a week to make, and is totally fitting with her personality.
"It was me—I don't like to be like everybody else. People always say I'm 'extra'—when it comes to projects in class I don't just make a poster, I end up making it 3-D. I make it more outstanding, you know? I love to make the biggest, most creative projects. Thats what I like to do."