(story by Mir, from Woulda Coulda Shoulda)
After years of being a female teenager, myself, and now having spent a couple of years parenting a female teenager, I've come to an inescapable conclusion: Surging estrogen has a negative impact on the brain.
Argue with me if you must, but I think it must be true.
I look at pictures of my teenage self, now, and wonder at how I could've been so myopic about my own looks. True, my hair was rather unfortunate (hey, everyone's was) most of the time, but I recall being convinced that I was plain, at best. On a good day, I believe I was plain. On a bad day, I just knew I was horribly, terribly ugly.
My measurements, as a teen? 34-22-34. And I have a very clear memory of that first discovery of cellulite on my thighs, and trust me, it wasn't in my teens. When I was a teen, I was pretty. Not just that, but I had a killer figure. And I had absolutely no idea.
Instead, I wore big, baggy clothes to cover up my body, because I was sure it was too hideous for anyone to be able to stand. My mother was blond, but my hair was stupidly brown. There was no reasoning with me about any of it, either. Everyone else who told me I was pretty was dumb and wrong.
Now I have a teenage daughter, and Lord have mercy, she's gorgeous (in my completely unbiased opinion, of course). Much like my own teenage self, she is skinny but curvy, with a figure I know she will someday look back on and wonder why she didn't think she was beautiful. Whereas I have hair reminiscent of a poodle, hers cascades in loose waves, meaning it looks just like what other girls spend hours creating with hot tools and rollers when she just lets it be, or she can easily make it stick-straight if she so desires. Her hair is lighter than mine, which means she gets sun-kissed blond streaks in the summer, and between that and the waves she usually looks like she just walked in from the beach… which is, of course, ironic, because she, too, covers up her body in baggy clothing most of the time.
Yesterday she was sitting in my office doing homework, and for a journaling assignment for English she had to write about things she would wish for if she had the chance. One of her wishes, she told me, would be to have an identical twin sister.
This didn't surprise me, because she's friends with a set of twins and they clearly have a very special relationship.
No, what surprised me was that she went on to say: "… because if I had a twin sister, I could just have her put on the outfit I want to wear, and then I could look at her and REALLY know how I look in it!"
There was a pause, then, as I considered pointing out that even identical twins are never exactly identical; but what came out of my mouth after a second, instead, was, "Um, have you ever heard of a mirror?"
She looked at me. I looked at her. We cracked up.
"It would be different," she insisted, weakly, still giggling.
"Suuuuuure it would," I said.
"I can't tell when I look in the mirror!" she insisted. (Obviously the solution is to clone her, because our mirrors are all defective.)
I know a lot of women, and most of them say that they, too, had no idea how pretty they were until time and gravity started changing that.
How do we help young women overcome this estrogen poisoning so that they can see themselves more clearly? (Because I don't really see the cloning thing being a great long-term plan.)
(read more Mir here. If you're not already.)