I’ve got a bone to pick with modern day teenagers and it has nothing to do with bad attitudes or laziness. The thing that’s really concerning me is how attractive, fashionable and sexy teens are getting.
I look at teenage girls now and they’re all perfect eyebrows and quaffed hair with Insta-worthy contouring and co-ordinating outfits and I’m thinking what the hell happened to the awkward stage?
Looking back at my own life, I think I’d place my most awkward stage at about 13/14. My hair was an unruly bush of ginger wire, the colour of a strong Aperol Spritz. This was a time pre ceramic-hair straighteners so I’d spend up to three hours on an evening trying to straighten my hair using a Babyliss steam iron; which thinking about it was the worst invention ever, why would anyone combine heat and water thinking it would result it gorgeous silky poker straight hair? FYI it doesn’t. I had terrible hormonal acne all across my cheeks and down my neck so I wore about 3cm of thick foundation two shades too dark and thought that deep mahogany lipstick made me look sophisticated, especially combined with an electric blue eyeliner (sigh). Then there’s my eyebrows which wouldn’t have looked out of place on a wax figure in the Yorvik Viking Centre.
In those days there was no social media or Youtube videos with step-by-step instructions on how to do a smoky eye. We were going it alone and learning from bad choices the hard way. I was teased about my hair relentlessly, there was even a song a few kids would sing about it that went something like “A la bouffant, stinky a la bouffant” but I wouldn’t call this bullying as such, I’d call it teasing and I think in the long run it did me good.
This might sound a bit controversial and I would never condone bullying ever but a bit of peer-to-peer jibeing can be character building. It took me a long time and many different efforts at changing my hair (including an attempt to change the colour using my dads ‘Just For Men’ grey coverage hair dye) before I felt comfortable in my skin. I still don’t feel completely comfortable now but does anyone? I just think that kids should have a long period of trial and error before they reach their true identity. Nowadays you can go online and in seconds be told exactly how your hair should look and how to do it, they all know too much about how they want to look when I spent my teen years having absolutely no idea but I went on a wild ride getting there.
The awkward stage didn’t feel fair at the time and I would rely heavily on my mum’s assurances that I was beautiful (god bless her) but it’s something we all went through in our own way and we can look back and remind ourselves how far we’ve come and the strength it embedded in us to persevere, a quality essential to adult life.
I have two daughters and I want them to go through the awkward stage. I want them to look back and cringe and be able to laugh at themselves, not nervously but with a big belly chuckle at the hilarity of it all. After all, to laugh at yourself is to love yourself – in the most humble way.