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 96 comments.

on Feb. 29 2012 at 8:16 pm
LifeIsBeautiful, Machias, Maine
0 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

Very well written! Awesome job!!

on Feb. 29 2012 at 1:00 pm
mariamarie144, New York, New York
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
Wonderful article, very nice! This brings me memories.. I love that I can see myself in many parts. I certainly enjoyed reading this.

on Feb. 29 2012 at 11:42 am
Celeste_N. SILVER, Balch Springs, Texas
8 articles 0 photos 27 comments

Favorite Quote:
Your just mad that your not a rainbow unicorn with ninja monkeys that can talk to gummy bears(:

Great article!!! Everyone please read mine!!! i think they're really good and i like to get noticed more!!! thanks!!!!

on Feb. 29 2012 at 11:23 am
saranova_92 BRONZE, Wallkill, New York
4 articles 0 photos 11 comments
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 the makeup you can wear. I know, I've been through it. Also, guys don't wear makeup or care, they don't feel the need to look flawless. Possibly they are the ones who end up being loved more for who they are than for just good looks. There will always be something about your appearance to criticize, as far as the media goes. Why should we follow what they say and do what everyone else does? The desire to fit in and be accepted is universal. But do we want friends that are so superficial - or ones that will last for life, caring about our hearts the most? And a guy who values us for who we truly are. . .makeup or not. That kind of relationship will last. Character is what makes us beautiful and will last far beyond when our looks fade. I stopped wearing any maekup because I realized I was enslaved by it - when I didn't feel I could go out without it or was afraid if I went anywhere without it. And now I'm free. . .and not only this but I hope more of us girls can feel free to be the people God made us to be, because what He says about us is what matters most. All the world will tell you that you can't be happy unless you have this or that and look this way. And when we have it we still feel empty; there's always something more we feel we need. They lie and don't have your best interests at heart; they want to take anyone who doesn't fit in and change or destroy-  so don't give in to them. Give in to God! He made you just the way you are for a reason, He never makes mistakes! 

dreamtree6 said...
on 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

on Feb. 7 2012 at 6:05 pm
otherpoet SILVER, Wayland, Massachusetts
6 articles 9 photos 254 comments

Favorite Quote:
"For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone." - Audrey Hepburn

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!

on Feb. 7 2012 at 3:36 pm
LizzyXD33 BRONZE, Brooklyn, New York
4 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There will be so many people that will say 'you cant.' What you have to do is look them in the eyes and say 'Watch me!'"

i relate to this evry single day of my eight grade life. beautifully written!!!!!!

on Feb. 7 2012 at 11:45 am
missunderstood@04 BRONZE, Faridabad, Other
3 articles 0 photos 4 comments
That's pretty real stuff. Very nicely weaved.

on Feb. 7 2012 at 8:50 am
anushree BRONZE, Mumbai, Other
1 article 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
beauty lies in simplicity

just loved the article... Wonderfully written

on Feb. 7 2012 at 7:25 am
GingerLily BRONZE, Aulnay-sur-Mauldre, Other
3 articles 6 photos 78 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world" - Oscar Wilde

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.

on Feb. 7 2012 at 6:34 am
LyverinthsWalk BRONZE, Lebanon, Maine
4 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
“I don't paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.” - Frida Kahlo

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.

on Feb. 7 2012 at 4:32 am
ReadWriteBreathe PLATINUM, Pocatello, Idaho
24 articles 4 photos 114 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You have to consider the possibility that God does not like you" Tyler Durden Fight Club

This is amazing. I absolutely love it and how you realized that life isn't like Seventeen or Vogue. Amazing job.

on Nov. 11 2011 at 11:27 am
iwakeup2early BRONZE, Boise, Idaho
2 articles 0 photos 4 comments
This is beautiful and honest and relatable. The readers are right there with you in your exquisite detail. Keep writing (:

ama1013 BRONZE said...
on Feb. 8 2011 at 7:55 pm
ama1013 BRONZE, Fairfield, Connecticut
1 article 0 photos 25 comments
i liked it alot. I love when people say be yourself lol. Keep writing !

on Nov. 27 2010 at 12:20 pm
sabina22 BRONZE, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 47 comments
It was very interesting for me to read this, and very inspiring. I applaud your courage in writing this and admitting the past and posting this article on here. Keep up the good work, and have faith in yourself! You have a lot to be proud of :)

pooandpee said...
on Nov. 5 2010 at 2:50 pm
I LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED it. I could read it a million times over and over again. I cried to first time i really. :) it is apsolutly AZAMING!

freddy said...
on Nov. 5 2010 at 2:50 pm
This is SOOOOOO inspirational and touching. It connects with me and probably with everyone else who reads it as well. This is a GRAND piece! Congrats!!!

on Nov. 5 2010 at 2:50 pm
I LOVED IT!!! you can connect with sooo many people writing like this. it was amazing!!!! i could read this over and over!!!!!!!!!!! :)

Smashley72 said...
on Nov. 5 2010 at 2:47 pm
I really really enjoyed this.... it is a very well writen piece and i can connect to it in many ways! I remember buying my first lipstick when i was 6, and it meant alot to me. This is a very very very well writen piece. This is an amazing piece! I loved it!! :)

Ninz59 SILVER said...
on Aug. 28 2010 at 11:57 am
Ninz59 SILVER, Orland Park, Illinois
5 articles 17 photos 71 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Love conquers all"

Loved it.

This is something any girl can relate to.