Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Giving Teenage Girls Advice

Adults love to give teenagers advice. Because we know everything and have an omniscient understanding of the world that teenage girls are growing up in. Right?

Sure we do.

I read another blog - - and couldn't resist coming up with my own version of her list:

1. If you wear clothes that show your cleavage, legs, arms and – god forbid – your midriff – stop. Boys will look at you.  Worse yet, forty year old women will mimic your style choices because they want men to look at them too and think dressing like a teenager is the way to do it.  

2. Don’t use tanning booths – how passé is that?  Spray tans are the way to go.  Just watch out for the dreaded ‘orange’ look. That is the kiss of social death. Start slowly and work your way up to Newport Beach chic.

3. Be careful of what you post on Facebook.  I know that honesty is the name of the game - no one cares about anonymity - but try to remember what kindness is. Think about what a future employer or college admissions officer might think about YOUR character for posting mean, cruel, stupid or slanderous material in a public arena.  These are usually adults who don’t give a f*** about you personally and will simply think you are an idiot.

4. Learn to make good friends – this is tricky because there are no secrets at your age.  Don’t go to summer camp and think that no one will find out about what you did behind the counselor’s office. Don’t tell your best friend something that you don’t want her telling the best friend she has next week. Social media will haunt you until the day you graduate…from grad school. Adults have a word for this – we call it ‘drama.’  You call it business as usual.

5. If you haven’t stopped browsing your Facebook page and answering text messages long enough to really think about what you would like to do beyond high school – what subjects, hobbies, books, and/or jobs get you excited – sit back for a moment and give it some thought.  High School is the last free ride you have in this life and if you can’t use it to figure out what is going to make the rest of your life rock – then you’ll waste either your money or your parent’s money on a college degree that will mean nothing to you in ten years. When I say ‘follow your heart’ I mean it – use what you love to do – the class you stay awake in, as an example – to start building a path to a future that is just around the corner. You have a choice: You can sleep through life and wake up disgruntled and empty at 40 something or you can start acting like the adult you are becoming and think about what it might actually look like to live into your dreams.

6. Never let anyone make you feel bad about how you feel.  You don't have to defend a feeling. You don't need facts to back up a feeling.  Keep it clean – it is your feeling, after all – no one else has to feel the same way you do.  If you want people to respect what you feel – you have to give that back to them.  It’s a two way street.

7. Smoking is an addiction.  You already know it is a health hazard.  There are worse health hazards – cocaine, heroin, meth, driving drunk, unprotected sex. Smoking may seem cool but it is a bitch to quit and no one likes kissing a smoker.

8. My generation’s and your generation’s ideas around “reputation” are different. It’s great to think that you don’t care about what people may think of your behavior but remember that it isn’t just your fellow teenagers that are worth considering when it comes to how you present yourself to the world. Think about employers, teachers, even your grandparents. These adults may have odd (to your way of thinking) notions of what is proper behavior for young ladies. It makes sense for you to understand what those notions are – not as guidelines for how you should behave but to simply understand what might make the difference in a job or scholarship interview.  You are very quickly going to be launched out into a world that will have all sorts of ideas of what being ‘good’ or ‘trustworthy’ means. Religions, ethnicity, families, economic standing all play into this. Be smart, accept that reality, and start figuring out what integrity means to you. It’s one of the few qualities that will matter over the course of your life.

9. Smart women intimidate dumb men (and women too). Don’t play down your strengths because if you do, you will end up surrounded by people too small for you. It’s not an easy world to be a sexually confident, smart, capable young woman. Our society (or Rush Limbuagh) often likes to label these women as bitches and sluts. So what? Be who you are meant to be and don’t let labels paint you into a corner.

10. I’d like to try to give you some advice on how to deal with the tidal wave of information that permeates our culture about what the ideal woman should be like. You already know about how the media air brushes models and the drug addictions of those beautiful starlets; you read about how women are still paid less than men in similar jobs; you see the results of acid being poured on women’s faces and what happens to the victims of the sex trafficking trade – and on top of that your generation is being left with a huge environmental disaster to clean up. The world we live in is fucked up. Still. Women pay the price in ways a man never will. If you can get a decent education, have access to health care, eat two or three meals a day, take a shower with actual hot water and shop at a mall for new clothes – you are one of the few lucky girls on this planet. 

So, taking all of that into account, here’s my advice: Short, fat, tall, skinny, black, white, brown, bronze, gay, straight, bi, queer – I don’t care -just use the brain that is in your head to be the best person you can be. “Ideals” are marketing techniques to create consumers of goods. Let that go.  Be kind, give back to your community, learn everything you can, work hard and don’t put up with anyone who makes you feel less than awesome. Learn to be vulnerable, open your heart and throw away all the “shoulds” you’ve been handed by anyone who does not reside in your own body.

One last thing – because I am the overzealous adult giving advice right now - use birth control and make the guy use a condom.  It’s your body and you have the right to choose when or if you get pregnant.

1 comment:

  1. The one I could have used the most when I was younger is, "Don’t play down your strengths". Sometimes it seems youth is wasted on the young. ;) Excellent advice and post. :)