I loved being a little girl. It is still hands-down the happiest period of my life.
My imagination ran wild then, and the world was a magical, beautiful place. Being a teenager… not so much.
So, looking at some young women crossing the street yesterday, I found myself very happy to be done with that part of my life. Which is strange because since Saturn has returned in my cycle, I’ve found myself mourning the loss of my 20 somethings to working at unfulfilling jobs, not having nearly enough fun, and just being too frustrated over life and my future in general.
Like most people entering their 30’s, I started to wonder that if I had been braver back then and just went after stuff that I wanted maybe my life would be more fulfilling now. However, despite any fleeting wish to get that time back (heck, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing anyway, so let be), I do NOT miss the confusion and the drama of it all.
It upsets me though when people belittle young girls for their choices, as a matter of fact, young people in general. Stop being so hypocritical. None of us were perfect at that age and made all the right choices, so just stop. And even if you were baby Jesus reincarnated, you probably had the right influences in your life to keep you on the straight and perfect!
Whether the skeletons are hidden behind a closet door somewhere or laid out on the front yard for everyone to see, we ALL had our teen-aged angsty years and early 20’s lack of judgment, what was I thinking?!, dies 100 deaths, can’t believe I did this or wore that moment(s). Some peoples moments were worse than others, but we all had something!
However, possibly the most popular critique I hear is about their clothing. Should I even mention the fact that half the people who frown their faces at these same young people and how they dress now, used to dress in clothing that would have seemed scandalous and inappropriate in their day? By all means, ’60s and ’70s party clothes might be proper today, well, unless you’re Cher or Wrathchild anyway, but back then, maybe not so much! They were defying their elders and the norms of social dress codes with flying colours too!
I don’t care for skimpy clothes or trousers hanging off my ass either, but here’s the thing that a lot of people don’t realise, or seem to pretend not to remember, your perception of your body changes drastically when you hit your teens. So I think it’s safe to expect some kind of drastic behaviour on their part.
Perception, it refers to becoming aware of something through your senses. I can’t speak for boys, but as a little girl, you come from a world where pretty clothes are the only physical perceptions you measure yourself by.
That other girl is prettier because she has nicer clothes than you. If you had a pretty outfit too then you would also be pretty! So, a pretty outfit automatically makes you prettier no matter what your body looks like. It’s all about the Cinderella transformation moment and once you have the pretty ensemble your business fix!
Your body and how it looks are of little consequence to you and not a cause for concern or worry. Or at least that’s how it used to be, and should still be.
But then you get breasts, and your hips widen. You may even put on a little weight in certain areas below your waistline and your facial features get more womanly. All of a sudden your body is different than it was before, shaped much like some of the pretty women you watched from afar in magazines and movies. To the point that it almost feels like you’ve undergone a mind swap to a new body. And then the confusion starts.
Because nobody helps you with this. Of course, you get introduced to your first bra, and the wonderful world of what a period is which literally attacks you out of nowhere (NO ONE truly explains just how bad a period is, unfortunately, so I tried to once).
People who never paid attention to you before suddenly start to, like boys and men and, other girls trying to accept their new bodies as well and measuring themselves up to you. And you know that all of this, the ‘mean girl’ behaviour and unwanted male attention, is because of how your body looks, NOT your clothes, your body that you can’t simply change the next day like your wardrobe to stand out less.
And that’s not even the half of it.
You have to cope with all of this change while dealing with the myriad number of opinions going around about your body. Seriously, everyone around you seems to think that, ‘oh, she’s at that age now, maybe I should tell her about this and that‘. And then Mary, Jane and her mother-in-law all have something to say about your body. A body that you are still getting used to and frankly don’t appreciate people making into the topic of the day!
Or suddenly people who used to laugh and talk normally with you begin to speak to you more ‘carefully’, more politely, and look at you in a discomforting way. Because you’re a young woman now, and interactions that would have seemed innocent when you were a child may lead to misunderstandings now.
You also can’t play ‘kid games’ anymore, though I applaud the girls who put on their sports bras and go for it anyway. But most of the time, after being pushed just one time on your very new, very tender breasts, by one of your counterparts on the playground, sitting out the rough play becomes the norm. Yeah, those breasts stay pretty darn tender for a solid decade. More awkwardness!
And yes, most parents suck at helping you with this. As I said, they’ll get the bra and hand out the ‘first menstrual cycle’ pamphlets but they absolutely suck at preparing you for the drastic shift in social dimensions, norms, and perceptions when your body finally breaks the hormonal growth curve.
They do not tell you that it is apparently completely fine for a man to glare at you like he wants to eat you for an hour in a line at the bank. They do not prepare you for the double standards of walking down a street and having several people be very verbally appreciative of your figure in an outfit only to then have the same said outfit be used as a reason to justify harassment, should you get harassed.
For a young woman, trying to absorb all of this and love her new body despite, it is the most confusing shit EVER! Enough to make you hate yourself and your new body. Because at the end of the day, you didn’t ask for any of this to be shoved onto you overnight, and you don’t see why things have to change. Or why you have to be herded into circles with other girls that you don’t know, might not even like at all, but are expected to get along with because you ‘belong’ with them.
The point is, I am not surprised that some girls dress the way they do, or even act the way they do. It’s a confusing time! And you get to a point where you can only do two things. Although you are still very uncomfortable, but at the same time very fascinated with your new body, you still don’t know WHAT TO DO WITH IT!
So you can either say, ‘hey, I look like these pretty women now, so maybe I should dress like them’, and try not to be too creeped out with the response. Or you can cover up because of how uncomfortable the unwanted attention is making you feel. And if you look around, girls are always doing one or the other.
Now I know a lot of women are probably going, “no, there are other options. Just accept yourself!” But that comes with time. And trust me it takes years, years, and more years, to truly be comfortable with your body. And when I say comfortable I don’t mean comfortable showing it off. Because some women who choose this option many times are hiding deep insecurities about how they view themselves, and the skimpy outfits are just a show, a retaliation against the feeling of being insecure and not pretty enough.
When I say comfortable I mean completely content and relaxed in knowing who you are, and what you are not and being okay with that, whatever it may be. To the point that you do not care about fitting the perception of beauty that you think others expect of you which is what makes you feel uncomfortable anyway.
You’re just over it! Men are men, if they want to stare they’ll stare, no matter what you wear. Boobs are boobs, every woman I know has at least one. They are no longer fascinating to me! Your ass is just a welcome seat cushion, and hips are just another fact of life, lot’s of women have them. At some point, you’re just done with worrying and agonising over your body and how it is perceived.
That is the stress that I do not miss. AT ALL! But I know the smallies have it. I can see it in their eyes! Every time I stand by a traffic light and there’s one next to me with something too tight and short on and she’s constantly fixing herself and glancing around to see who’s watching. Seeking that validation, “am I doing this right?”
And I want to hug her and tell her, “Yes, if you are comfortable with yourself you ARE doing it right!” But I know she hasn’t fully accepted herself yet to understand why. I just pray in my heart that somebody she trusts enough to believe will have the sense to ease her mind because she IS confused!
I see it in my niece’s eyes too, when she has to check herself in the mirror a dozen times before she leaves the house. She then proceeds to take two dozen selfies, I KIDD YOU NOT! Every angle she can think of! And I get it! She’s enamoured with her new self and how beautiful she’s become! Like, this is me? Really?
Her body is so new and different than it was before. Part of her wants to show it off and another part doesn’t because she’s slowly learning how fast having the body she has can turn creepy and uncomfortable. But she’ll figure it out, I know she will because she has people to help her.
So be kind with your words. Don’t judge and criticise. Let them know that they’ll have a lot less anxiety if they pay less attention to what they look like and to what people think of how they look. That their life will be less burdened, and much happier.
They may not have to worry about feeding a family and paying a mortgage, and I know these ‘chirren’ don’t always listen even when your intentions are good. But they have things to work out too, anxieties and fears just like everyone did at their age. You wouldn’t be a fair adult if you didn’t help them become good ones as well along the way.
Don’t just be a critic, you know, sometimes they lie. 🙂
-Written By Travesaou
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