Whether it held decorative purple feathers or was emblazoned with Britney Spears’ name, it’s likely you or someone you know was the owner of an inflatable chair circa 1999. They were uncomfortable, but tolerable because, well, we were ten and they were sold at Limited Too and therefore the height of covetability. It was worth it. Plus, they matched super well with our lava lamp and beaded curtains. (Why a bunch of pre-teens had bedrooms decorated like a drug den in the back of a van at Woodstock is still a mystery.)
I say this not to amuse you with millennial nostalgia but because, if you believe the home goods buyers at trend-driven establishments like Urban Outfitters and Target, or these articles from Romper and House Beautiful, soon we’ll once again be sitting atop nothing but air trapped in a glitter-filled plastic bubble.
My mother, who is a very wise woman, once told me that if you’re witnessing the second coming of a fashion trend that you partook in the first time, you’re probably too old for it now. I don’t always adhere to this advice — I was an avid participant in the Great Choker Movement of 2015 — but I think it applies here. While I will admit that I still think inflatable chairs are cool looking (I’m a sucker for anything sparkly and vaguely ‘60s-inspired), my almost-30-year-old coccyx probably can't handle them. I am, after all, a person who bought a $20 butt pillow for my office chair and still complains about her back at the end of a long day. In the words of Danny Glover’s Lethal Weapon character: “I’m too old for this shit.”
Even those of us who don’t have the back woes of someone twice their age will, I predict, find fault with these chairs. They are ostensibly being marketed to young adults, but can these things even support the weight of a full-grown woman? Or will my ass just be touching the floor, leaving me in an unflattering, crouched position that makes me feel like I’m peeing in the woods? If I’m wearing shorts or a dress, will the backs of my legs stick unpleasantly to the PVC? I feel like answer is a resounding yes. Also: What if it pops? Will there be a glitter explosion that coats my apartment in millions of small, shiny particles that I will never fully be rid of, causing me to eventually lose my security deposit? Can a security deposit be lost on account of glitter? These are questions I do not want — and should not have! — to entertain as an adult.
It’s worth pointing out that the source of all this appears to be one chair in several different colorways that is being sold at not just the aforementioned stores but also Forever 21 and Bed Bath & Beyond. It costs $28.49 at Target, where it is currently sold out, and $39 at Urban Outfitters, where it is not sold out and where it also has two single-star reviews. Meanwhile, at Target, the reviews section is more positive but also a lot weirder, with a bunch of people talking about how the chair “poops.” “The best pooping chair around. It has a pleasant smell to it too,” writes a reviewer named Mary. “I just wanted to say if this chair poops, I think that's an added bonus,” says Amanda. “It pooped the very next day,” says another, suspiciously named “Mery.” I’m guessing this is a joke? But I don’t really know? I don’t want to dwell too much on it, except to point out that this review section exists and that it vexes me.
If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking a lot of things right now. If one of them is, “hey, I thought we were done with all this ‘60s-by-way-of-‘90s revival stuff”, allow me to present you with an alternate answer to why inflatable furniture is rearing its shiny, vinyl head again: the pool float, that ever-popular Instagram prop. The progression from pool floats to inflatable furniture feels like a natural one. Except for the simple fact that in the water, you have no choice but to struggle to support yourself atop an inflatable pterodactyl or whatever, and on dry land, we have these things called normal chairs.
Despite all these arguments, the pre-teen glitter queen inside me covets this item. And maybe all chairs need not be for sitting. Maybe this could be like a much less impressive Claes Oldenburg sculpture that I can actually afford, or this giant inflatable sculpture of fecal matter that Paul McCarthy made in 2007. Speaking of which, I still need to know what all those Target reviewers are talking about, and if you ask me, that’s as good an excuse as any to drop $29 on a glitter-filled inflatable armchair.