16 Going On 16 This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

August 26, 2009
More by this author
I bought my first tube of lipstick at six, with a picture of Barbie wrapped around it, but nevertheless, bright, red, and shiny, which was the epitome of lipstick for me.

I started reading my mother’s Vogue when I was ten. I couldn’t pronounce half the words I read, but it was enough to stare at the glossy pages filled with larger-than-life women who led glamourous lives and wore beautiful Hermes scarves (which I pronounced her-mees) and carried around Gucci bags (gus-sy) that cost more than all my clothes combined.

At twelve, I subscribed to Seventeen magazine behind my mother’s back, who took the title literally and said that I should be at least seventeen to read it, and waited impatiently every first week of the month by the mailbox to receive the next issue that seemed to hold all the answers about boys, hair care and the latest trends, which together combined the meaning of life for the middle-school me.

All my life, all I ever wanted to do was grow up. I wanted to be extraordinary and mature beyond my years. I couldn’t wait for the day that I could wear six inch heels, shop at forbidden stores like Bebe and Guess, and cake my eyes with eyeliner. My dad of course freaked out when he realized that suddenly boys were calling and my boobs were growing and put restrictions on everything, and when I mean everything, I mean everything. I wasn’t allowed to hang out with boys, even if they were just friends, unless he was present. Every morning, he would examine every inch of my body to make sure not even a shadow of cleavage was showing and my shorts went past my fingers before I left for school. I wasn’t allowed to have my ears pierced until I was thirteen, wear nail polish until I was fifteen, or wear makeup until I was sixteen. But of course, me being me, I rebelled. Starting from sixth grade, I would layer hoodies (very acceptable) over my low-cut tops from Express (go to your room and change) and take off the hoodies once I got dropped off at school. I would sneak makeup in my backpack and put it on in the school bathroom right before the bell rang and wash it off before I got picked up. I said yes to the first guy who asked me out in seventh grade just to say that I could, and “broke up” with him two weeks later when I realized I didn’t even like him that much.

But like everything else in life, it came with a price. The boys I liked never respected me, and the boys that did like me, I could never respect, because they weren’t the “men” that I read about so many times in Seventeen. I had ridiculously high expectations for my boyfriends, because the magazine had taught me to expect them to take me out on romantic dates and treat me like a princess, which they never did of course (we were only in eighth grade). I had my first kiss with a guy who was moving across the country the next week, because I thought it would be the perfect way to say goodbye. It wasn’t. It was wet, and gross, and sloppy, and it definitely lacked the fireworks that the movies always portray. And now it’s one of my biggest regrets that i didn’t save my first kiss for someone I am in love with.

With time, everyone else caught up with me. By high school, every other girl was wearing makeup and curling their hair and wearing high heels. And suddenly, being grown up wasn’t so great anymore. With adolescence came superficiality, and the rat race to be popular, to be beautiful, to be desired. I poured into the magazines for answers and my passion for fashion became a true addiction. Seventeen expanded to Teen Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair, Fitness Magazine, none of which had enough solutions to make me happy. I was always on some diet and subconsciously squeezing the fat around my stomach that would never go away no matter how many crunches I did. And after years of looking at supermodels and celebrities, what I saw in the mirror wasn’t good enough. I could never be skinny enough, pretty enough, anything enough to be extraordinary, and I became what I always feared: just another high school girl. And with my decrease in self-esteem came an increase in heartbreaks from guys who could never respect me if I didn’t respect myself. And with that sad conclusion, the makeup came off, along with the heels and the short skirts, until I became a girl who just wore t-shirts, jeans and flats to school.

But all that I have shed are the layers on the outside, and the same insecurities on the inside remain. I still have the unquenchable desire to be different and to understand what the meaning of life is. And at the same time, I want to go back to the days when people didn’t judge you on what you wore or how you looked. I wish I could still be that little girl who dreamed that being grown up would make her extraordinary and thought that she could find all the answers in the pages of a magazine. I’m still trying to find the middle ground between being six and twenty-six. Just sixteen. My five magazines have dwindled to two, and when they run out, I won’t be renewing them, even with the promise of a free handbag with a two year subscription. I go to the gym regularly, but ever since I started, my little belly hasn’t gotten any smaller, and I’m okay with that because I’m healthy enough to be what I like to call “well-fed.” (move over phat with a p-h). I still have days when I need to slip on a little eyeliner to feel beautiful, but for the most part, I’ve learned to live my life one step at a time and that I’m extraordinary, just because I’m me.

Join the Discussion

This article has 93 comments. Post your own now!

thefandomsfangirlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 4:52 pm
A kick-butt piece from the heart! Brilliant, missy, just brilliant!
JillybeanThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 16, 2017 at 5:00 pm
Wow! I think there's always been pressure on teens to look attractive, to fall in love, ect., especially on teen girls. This story illustrates this perfectly. You go on wearing those t-shirts and jeans, girl!
Brian_marchant_25 said...
Oct. 3, 2016 at 4:34 pm
lol thats what i get for typing fast
Brian_marchant_25 said...
Oct. 3, 2016 at 4:33 pm
what is the anwser?
Elizabeth25This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jul. 19, 2016 at 7:17 pm
Thank you so much for this. It's so inspirational, and I can really relate to it. It's a reminder to me that beauty comes from within.
Hailey said...
Jan. 12, 2016 at 2:47 pm
It is so true about the beauty. I am in ninth grade and I don't wear makeup because I realized I don't want to be like everybody else (craving attention). The right guy will come sooner or later and he will love me for me.
thisEmilyda1 said...
Oct. 26, 2015 at 2:00 pm
Great job, watch the run on sentences though. Other than that it was practically perfect with such a beautiful message and meaning. It was sad, but also a harsh reminder of what social media can affects girls(even guys too). Thank you for writing.
Amanda T. said...
Jan. 7, 2015 at 12:57 am
It's so terrible how media can twist our perceptions of what beauty is. I'm so glad that you love who you are now instead of what you were trying to be.I grew up the almost exact same way , just as many other girls have. Thank you for sharing this.
melissaxo said...
Jan. 6, 2015 at 9:02 pm
I really loved this piece due to the fact that I could really relate to it. Great job!
LarkinThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 15, 2014 at 11:46 am
Beautiful. Such smooth transitions from your different outlooks on life. I love it. 
taylorcrowley19 said...
Sept. 3, 2014 at 12:02 pm
i really appreciate you writing this. I think a lot of teen (and pre-teen) girls need to hear this. I too did dream and still do, about being extraordinary. I wish to be a singer or an author amd im stuck with al these pretencious judgmental high school kids who have so much influence on my life when they shouldnt. I am 16 years old and all my life ive been told im wise beyond my years, and because of that i just want to GROW UP ALREADY. but strangely at the same time i want to go back to when i... (more »)
thefandomsfangirlThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
today at 5:12 pm
I personally agree with this... Excellent job!
_mmeggg said...
Aug. 20, 2014 at 10:49 am
What a great piece!! I couldn't stop reading! Such great detail!
. said...
Aug. 14, 2014 at 5:29 pm
That is a beautifully written piece! Great job!!!
Musicluv45 said...
Aug. 11, 2014 at 2:04 pm
O my god. I couldnt stop reading this. Its so beautiful and so incredibly written, i was on the verge of tears. More girls have to see this and relate. Amazing job.
Hzim said...
Jul. 7, 2014 at 4:30 am
Already your writing differentiates you from all the glamor and gloss of the world and of High School. Use it to take you above and beyond. 
alixvillarreal said...
Apr. 2, 2014 at 1:35 pm
I really like how you worded everything and I'm sure alot of people can relate!
CarlyKatherine said...
Feb. 2, 2014 at 6:11 pm
Omg. You have the perfect voice. Your writing is amazing! You certainly have a way with words. Who cares about all those petty highschool things? Rise above it. At least you have a voice like that!
Jessy488 replied...
Apr. 14, 2014 at 5:04 pm
What artical did you read? Omg Girl!
TopHatCactus said...
Jan. 29, 2014 at 7:59 pm
I really like how you described the fazes from little girl to high school. Well, me being the t-shirt and jeans girl forever I can't relate to the fashion craze but with your short story it really opened my eyes. When I was a kid I never wanted to grow up, okay maybe I wanted to drive and things my parents did but I loved the kid play and running around imagination stuff. I think your story was well writen and expresed what you were thinging very well (the transaction from thoughts to words ... (more »)
Site Feedback