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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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FreedomIsMyVirtue said...
Apr. 13, 2012 at 10:57 pm
Hey, yo! I personally like this article and the real-ness of it. Great job and great writing!
 
wishingtheskywasbluerThis 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...
Apr. 13, 2012 at 10:46 pm
this is such an amazing piece - great message, well written. i can relate to this so well. thank you.
 
TheReaper27 said...
Apr. 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm
Awesome writing piece! This is such an interesting piece. I may be in middle school but people around here want to grow up so fast and are acting exactly as you described, but they judge you if you dont wear this or have these kind of shoes or this kind of make-up. its irritating and I'm thankful I am one of those girls that can live in the moment and become who I want to become. 
 
NashiaTheDreamer said...
Apr. 13, 2012 at 4:44 am
This article caught my attention! What a wonderful piece it is! It's got everything and every line matches with my story (even though I'm 14). Teen life is something one can never compare with. It's indefinable, unique and of course, the best! If only, one could be herself. 
 
nikkigonefishin said...
Mar. 22, 2012 at 10:59 pm

I really enjoyed reading this. The title caught my attention. I like how it was written and the message it contains. Im glad you have learned to recognize how extraordinary you are.

 

 
AKwritten said...
Mar. 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm
Something every girl should read
 
LifeIsBeautiful said...
Feb. 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm
Very well written! Awesome job!!
 
mariamarie144 said...
Feb. 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm
Wonderful article, very nice! This brings me memories.. I love that I can see myself in many parts. I certainly enjoyed reading this.
 
Celeste_N. said...
Feb. 29, 2012 at 11:42 am
Great article!!! Everyone please read mine!!! i think they're really good and i like to get noticed more!!! thanks!!!!
 
KnitsandPurls replied...
Aug. 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm
If you want people to look at your work, go to the forums and look of a thread for that, Celeste. This spot is about her story.
 
saranova_92 said...
Feb. 29, 2012 at 11:23 am
Wow, great article . . .definitely what we need to read more of. This expresses alot of how I feel about the unreasonable demands placed on teenage girls today. When you're young everything seems so simple, being grown up is your biggest dream. When you're about to get there, moving through the most volatile years of your life, you realize it's so much more complex. For the world, you'll never be thin enough even withas much as exercising or dieting as you try, or perfect enough with all th... (more »)
 
dreamtree6 said...
Feb. 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm
this is a really good, nicely written article. I can relate to it all especially since I'm now in highschool
 
otherpoet said...
Feb. 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm
This is a beautiful article. It is very personal and from the heart. I can tell you believe in every word. You are a super strong writer! Keep it up!
 
LizzyXD33 said...
Feb. 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm
i relate to this evry single day of my eight grade life. beautifully written!!!!!!
 
Kanupriya S. said...
Feb. 7, 2012 at 11:45 am
That's pretty real stuff. Very nicely weaved.
 
anushree said...
Feb. 7, 2012 at 8:50 am
just loved the article... Wonderfully written
 
Lillie M. said...
Feb. 7, 2012 at 7:25 am
This is beautifully written and incredibly true. Girls need to read what you've written and realize that life is about finding yourself in your own way, not through magazines and models. Your appearance isn't what makes you beautiful.
 
Emily C. said...
Feb. 7, 2012 at 6:34 am
This is incredible, I absolutely and fully agree with you. I am a freshman in highschool, I didn't start wearing makeup until last year, I know I have never gone past my parents warnings and judgments, but I have also gone out with many people, and still and saving a kiss for someone special. I haven't kissed anyone yet, but because of wanting to change too fast, it completely changes everything for you, whether it's good or bad.
 
ReadWriteBreathe said...
Feb. 7, 2012 at 4:32 am
This is amazing. I absolutely love it and how you realized that life isn't like Seventeen or Vogue. Amazing job.
 
iwakeup2early said...
Nov. 11, 2011 at 11:27 am
This is beautiful and honest and relatable. The readers are right there with you in your exquisite detail. Keep writing (:
 
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