16 Going On 16 | Teen Ink

16 Going On 16

August 26, 2009
By Josephine Liu BRONZE, Walnut, California
Josephine Liu BRONZE, Walnut, California
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

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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This article has 94 comments.


on Jan. 29 2014 at 7:59 pm
TopHatCactus BRONZE, League City, Texas
4 articles 1 photo 23 comments

Favorite Quote:
When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.
Ernest Hemingway

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 isn't always so smooth). I never thought nonfiction was ever interesting, but stopping by to read this was worth it! You're doing great! Keep at it!

saraahhh said...
on Oct. 8 2013 at 4:22 pm
wow rlly good!  i have to write a memoir for school (dont know wat to write bout yet) but urs wuz rlly good and i could def relate :)

on Sep. 29 2013 at 12:09 pm
SpidersAcrossStars PLATINUM, Hayward, California
36 articles 0 photos 160 comments

Favorite Quote:
For you, a thousand times over.

Wow couldn't stop reading this...great job. It felt real and was really touching. Thank you for this. You are a beautiful writer :)

on Aug. 14 2013 at 3:01 pm
AnnyssaHowerton GOLD, Yuma, Arizona
12 articles 2 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
If there is a star in the night sky, then today was a good day.
or
If there is a star in the sky, then it is nighttime.

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...
on 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 look like some make-up/lighting/phtoshop enhanced model to be beautiful. And although there are girls in high school who eat everything and still maintain their skiiny figures, and wear all the trendy girls, I don't need to appear like them to feel accepted. Everyone is different and we all need to learn to embrace that trully, which is smething magazines should promote as well.

on Jun. 5 2013 at 1:26 pm
redhairCat PLATINUM, Pebble Beach, California
47 articles 20 photos 411 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I can do anything!"

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!

on May. 29 2013 at 3:10 pm
NancyGoldenChild, Los Angeles, California
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements. -Napoleon Hill

Very deep. The fact that I think many young girls can relate to this, backs up the simplicity of your memoir. Love it.

on Mar. 5 2013 at 10:14 am
Alison_Bachorik SILVER, Durham, New York
6 articles 2 photos 6 comments
I feel like I can relate It reminds me of my memoir that I wrote.

glitzgirl66 said...
on Mar. 1 2013 at 10:34 am
glitzgirl66, Des Moines, Iowa
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I like your entry! I can relate. 

on Nov. 1 2012 at 9:47 am
chrisvfree PLATINUM, N/A, Florida
37 articles 0 photos 24 comments

Favorite Quote:
I pretty much try to stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face. - Johnny Depp

Beautiful job! There is so much truth to this, anyone girl can relate to the emotional dangers of growing up too fast

Karategirl33 said...
on Oct. 28 2012 at 3:50 pm
Karategirl33, Arlington, Texas
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
I am Titanium!

Wow, really good and heart-felt! Absolutely LOVE!!

on Oct. 28 2012 at 2:16 pm
ailurophile BRONZE, 20 Minutes From Everything, North Carolina
4 articles 1 photo 19 comments

Favorite Quote:
I've got one foot in the darkness and the other one in a Hello Kitty roller skate

This is extraordinary. Keep up the excellent writing.

WonTonFred1 said...
on 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...
on Oct. 6 2012 at 11:30 pm
Wow. Absoultely Amazing and Beautiful! Great Job!

on Oct. 6 2012 at 6:52 pm
pandagirl312 GOLD, Leawood, Kansas
19 articles 1 photo 92 comments
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...
on Sep. 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 for being yourself and sharing this with the world!
 

on Sep. 14 2012 at 7:58 am
dumbblonde12356, Basking Ridge, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
OH MI GAWD DIS IZ MY FAVORITE

on Aug. 23 2012 at 12:53 pm
KnitsandPurls GOLD, Mahtomedi, Minnesota
13 articles 0 photos 83 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I cannot live without books"
--Thomas Jefferson

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.

Nallerz BRONZE said...
on Aug. 23 2012 at 11:40 am
Nallerz BRONZE, Minneapolis, Minnesota
2 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
god is my ultimate power

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 

on Aug. 3 2012 at 4:38 am
kate12345me GOLD, Sydney, Other
11 articles 0 photos 69 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth." - Thoreau
"Sometimes you're flush and sometimes you're bust, and when you're up, it's never as good as it seems, and when you're down, you never think you'll be up again, but life goes on."

Awww thanks! :)