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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.

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Annyssa H. said...
Aug. 14, 2013 at 3:01 pm
This was a really great memoir.   TeenInk.com/nonfiction/memoir/article/569596/Ruined/  Could you maybe read my short one, and possibly critique it?
Eliza_VRules said...
Aug. 7, 2013 at 6:36 pm
I would just like to say Thank You for writing this unique memoir. Ever since I've transitionioned into high school (from being home-schooled) my thoughts transitioned as well on the importance of beautifying myself, and scrutinized very page of the photoshop-modified models in Teen Vogue and Glamour. I still do adore those fashion magazines as a source of entertainment, but what I've discovered over these past few months is someone doesn't need to ... (more »)
redhairCat This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm
Oh WOW! This was absolutely amazing!!! I loved it! You are such a good writer! I think this should be published! More girls need to hear what you have to say - it's so relatable! :) Keep writing!
NancyGoldenChild said...
May 29, 2013 at 3:10 pm
Very deep. The fact that I think many young girls can relate to this, backs up the simplicity of your memoir. Love it.
Alison_Bachorik This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 5, 2013 at 10:14 am
I feel like I can relate It reminds me of my memoir that I wrote.
glitzgirl66 said...
Mar. 1, 2013 at 10:34 am
I like your entry! I can relate. 
chrisfree.firebolts This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 1, 2012 at 9:47 am
Beautiful job! There is so much truth to this, anyone girl can relate to the emotional dangers of growing up too fast
Karategirl33 said...
Oct. 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm
Wow, really good and heart-felt! Absolutely LOVE!!
Snow-White-Queen said...
Oct. 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm
This is extraordinary. Keep up the excellent writing.
WonTonFred1 said...
Oct. 28, 2012 at 12:24 am
Nice work made me imagine the entire situation which is sort of the deal breaker with me for stories good job.   
. said...
Oct. 6, 2012 at 11:30 pm
Wow. Absoultely Amazing and Beautiful! Great Job!
pandagirl312 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm
Great work!!! I really enjoyed this. I saw one "I" uncapitalized, but that was really the only mistake. This definitely belongs in the print magazine. :)
forenglish said...
Sept. 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm
This was an extremely great memoir, Josephine!   It's so relateable to almost every teenage girl out there right now.  I'm so glad you were able to find such peace and acceptance in your life!!  Many people struggle with that their whole lives.  You are a beautiful person, and God loves you beyond comprehension! My English course for school asked us to find a memmoir on this site and share it with the class, and I am definitely choosing this one! Thanks again fo... (more »)
dumbblonde12356 said...
Sept. 14, 2012 at 7:58 am
Nallerz said...
Aug. 23, 2012 at 11:40 am
i love your story and im in highschool now this inspires me so much in many different ways thank you very much and it was just great 
kate12345me said...
Aug. 3, 2012 at 4:38 am
Awww thanks! :)
Rebel13 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm
'ello! i think you have a lot of talent and a passion which could make this story work. i like many of the phrasings and word choices you used, especially in the beginning. i do think your enthusiasm and the writing quality dropped towards the end, and that the end didnt really make sense. the story didnt seem to justify the conclusion you came to. good story josephine, keep writing!
lucky4579 said...
Jul. 10, 2012 at 9:57 pm
AMAZING!This is the true story of high school girls!
AugustusH20sThis 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...
Jun. 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm
Wonderful. xBri
LexiClare said...
May 27, 2012 at 10:03 am
This article will most definitely hold dear to millions of girls' souls. Keep writing, stay exactly who you are, because it's the only thing we really have. Thank you for linking so many girls together; I'm sure every teenager in the world yearns to stay simply sixteen.
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