Teen Week 2012 is a blog project hosted by body image warrior Medicinal Marzipan. Bloggers from around the world will be posting on topics related to self-esteem in teenage-hood. I'm honored to participate.
Growing up in a very conservative setting as I did, clothes were a big problem for me as a teenager. It was the late 90's, and I desperately wanted to fit in. All around me I saw stylish girls wearing tight pants, form-fitting tops, earrings, makeup, and elaborate nails. That was outside, 'in the world'. Closer to home were long loose skirts, loose tops, long hair, no makeup, and very little jewelry. These two images clashed horribly within me. The first was labeled "pretty" and "popular" in my mind and the second "holy" and "right".
What makes me sad now is that I never looked within for direction--and this wasn't only in the area of fashion. I was caught between a couple of boxes in the 'what-do-you-want-to-be-when-you-grow-up' department as well. It was either 'have a career' or 'be a mom'. Neither of which appealed to me all that much, to be frank. But somehow it never occurred to me that I was unique. I had a unique style, a unique perspective, and a unique destiny. No one could tell me who I was--only I could find myself.
And so this is what I say to teenaged girls everywhere: Figure yourselves out. Don't be afraid to try different clothes on, and different accents. Read books and learn what other people outside your world are doing. Go to thrift stores or learn to sew your own clothes. Learn new hobbies, make new friends. And don't be ashamed to be different from those around you. It may cause pain--you may be rejected, you may make faux-pas, you may become horribly embarrassed. But if you can be yourself, imperfect and lovely, you will find that freedom grows around you. You'll be too big to be boxed in by a movement or a fad. You can't be labeled, you can't be ignored.
For those of us who left the teen years behind years ago, I say the same. We can only be ourselves--let's be the best we can be.