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Seventeen

August 3, 2010

Last week while waiting for LPK to recover from his anesthesia, I found myself sitting at his bedside with nothing to do.  There were three magazines on the empty chair next to me.  Padres en Espanol, Seventeen, and Highlights.  Since my spanish has become limited to a few phrases and numbers, the first was out for me.  Once upon a time I liked reading Highlights– but did I just grow out of being five or has that magazine gotten severely dumb over the years?  Anyway, that left Seventeen as the only viable reading option.

Growing up, we were not allowed to buy or subscribe to any of the Seventeen/Glamour type magazines.  Even so, thanks to many long waits in dental offices, doctor offices, and oil changes, and lots of airport waiting areas, I managed to get my hands on quite a few.  It was very easy.  From the ages of sixteen-nineteen I probably read at least half, if not more, of the published issues.

Honestly, they were very addictive.  It was so easy to turn to these glossy pages for advice on how to live my life and be that beautiful, popular girl that inevitably graced each cover.  I took each beauty tip to heart and spent gobs of money on hair serums and the new makeup of the month. Not to mention the guaranteed acne treatments.

And then, somewhere along the way, I got burned out.  I was nineteen and reading one of those magazines in an airport on my way home from first semester of my sophomore college year.  I had worked hard the entire summer at my first real job and spent almost every penny on clothes and makeup.  I had gotten up every day that summer at the crack of dawn to work out, because I was convinced I was overweight.  I subsisted on Special K bars and six inch turkey sandwiches from Subway.  I was wearing an outfit that probably cost over 200 dollars all together and now— well, I had just read that I was no longer in fashion.

Granted, even with all the knowledge Seventeen provided me, I was (and still am) hopelessly un-fashionable.  I don’t have the slightest sense about what looks good on me and what goes with what.  But, I had really tried that year.  I wanted to look effortlessly put together and chic.  And here I was being told that girls like me must never wear whatever it was I had on.

For a second, I was terrifically depressed–on the verge of true tears, and then– I wasn’t.

I stood up, walked over to the nearest trash can, and dumped the mag.  I was done.  And I swore that I would never ever read another.  In that second, I decided to stop chasing the elusive perfect girl I wanted to be.  I realized I had not been happy or satisfied for one second while doing that, and I missed my younger carefree days.  It was that quintessential turning point for me– I’m sure everyone has had some similar experience as they grew up.

I haven’t read an issue of Seventeen since then.

Until last Wednesday.

Can I say– wow– what a difference six years makes.  I mostly just marveled at how young fifteen/sixteen is and what an incredibly naive age it is.  I read articles about highschool and boyfriends and fashion and wondered that there was really a time when I, too, thought those were the things that mattered most. That that was what life was all about.

I was feeling absolutely grateful that I was no longer a teenager.  That a bit of time and real life experience had taught me in ways that a magazine never could.  And I almost fell over laughing at how many ads were Twilight themed.  (PS I totally have a post about Twilight coming up).

Then I saw it.  A hair cream.  Made ESPECIALLY for people with thin, fine, limp, straight hair.  GUARANTEED to give you bounce and waves.  Plus, it was made with real soy.  REAL SOY!!  And I was sixteen again.  Just like that, I took my hair down, critically eyed the fact that, color aside, there is nothing I like about it’s limp, thin straightness; and ogled the model’s stunning tresses flowing around the colorful name brand.  I had a bit of cash left over for the month…if only…

And then my sweet little boy woke up.  And saved me from myself.  Because really, who can obsess over themselves when they have a child in their arms who loves to tangle his fingers in the above limp straight hair?  Or a husband at home who thinks your hair is the softest and prettiest.

And guess what?  I got both those things without following a word of advice from Seventeen.  And with my horrible fashion sense, to boot.

Someday I may have a daughter and I wonder how I will ever convey these things to her when she is sixteen and can see no farther ahead then highschool and the boy next door.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2010 5:49 pm

    We were never allowed to read those kinds of magazine while I was at home, but we still came across them here and there. Now I flip them around while I wait in line at the grocery store. I’m sure this annoys the clerks and I’ve had a few people give me weird looks but I don’t want to know about who is sleeping with who.

  2. August 4, 2010 11:41 am

    I never read those teen magazines, but I was still in that rut for awhile about how to look the best and social advice.

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