"Puberty? No Thanks."
On the radio at work the other day, an interesting story caught my attention and I stopped to take a listen.
A mother in Denver, Colorado publicly chastised her 13 year old daughter who had created a Facebook page, posed as a 19 year old girl and posted racy photos of herself on that page. When her mom found out about this page and the fact that she had befriended older men that were more than double her age, she took to Facebook. Posting a video of her openly reprimanding her daughter, mother Valerie Starks pointed out different things – her daughter’s true age, her bed time, what she watches on TV – that would hopefully clear the air that this girl truly is 13.
I am not here to discuss whether or not Valerie Starks’ chosen method of punishment is fair or not, while that is an interesting topic of discussion. What I do want to talk about is the 13 year old girl.
I have never met this 13 year old girl before. I don’t know her situation, what is going through her mind and the troubles that she has been through. And some how, knowing this information may be able to help answer the question why. Why did she make this Facebook page? Why did she pose as a 19 year old girl? Why?
In a previous post I marveled at how girls seem to be maturing at double the speed that I was. When I say maturing, I mean the clothes they wear, how they talk, how they present themselves and what they do in their spare time. It is quite shocking to be scrolling through Instagram or Facebook and see girls that I have seen growing up in elementary school, and all of a sudden, they are going out to parties or spending afternoons with their friends downtown.
But the biggest thing that surprises me about this 13 year old girl and other girls of similar age is the fact that they seemed to have bypass the whole adolescence and puberty stage and went straight to being teenagers.
In a time when the world is so focused on consumerism and instant gratification, I have begun to brush shoulders with younger girls inside of H&M. I would be waiting in line at Starbucks sandwiched in between the tweens of today. They would be going to the parties that I have never gone to.
I might be a tad jealous. Just a bit. But at the same time, I feel sad for the up and coming generation.
The biggest part of life is growing up. Growing up has it’s perks, but it also has its ugly sides. One of those ugly sides is the awkward stage of puberty.
I loathed puberty. The minute I turned 12 it seemed like it all went down hill from there. It was like the universe was taunting me, saying “Hey, happy birthday, here is a storm of nasty things for you to enjoy for the rest of your life.” And those nasty things included angry hormones, acne, untamed eyebrows, weight gain and continually looking flat as a board.
Of course, all bad things come to an end and eventually pass as well, and the golden age of 15 seemed to be when puberty began to bite the dust inside of me. Now, I can confidently say that I look more like a girl, and I can also very confidently say that I do not miss puberty one bit.
Having said that, one can’t just bypass puberty. You can’t take a pass on it, say “thanks but no thanks” and pretend like it doesn’t exist. Because like it or not, you are growing up and when you grow up, a lot of things change. It is a rite of passage and coming of age thing.
So seeing girls at age 12 or 13 who wear make up, have flawless skin and are wearing clothes that I wear now is disheartening. I can’t blame them for their good fortune. However, the disheartening part comes from the fact that many girls have rushed through this “coming of age”.
What has forced girls to grow up so much faster than they need to? Instead of complaining about not having enough books to read, more and more girls are now concerned about what selfie they should post on Instagram. All the worries that a typical teenager would have seems to be universal across all ages of walking and talking girls, and the younger ones are starting to catch on.
I’m not saying that we need to hold on to all of our young girls and shield them from the outside world or only let them go out when they turn 20. What I hope is that girls don’t feel the pressure to grow up too fast. Because let’s face it, even with the restrictions that some of our parents may give us when we are young children, the life of a child is not hard at all. There is little responsibility and little risk of anything harming us. Entering into a world of social media, pop culture and consumerism can be challenging to navigate and keep up with. But young girls (and I mean real 12, 13 year olds) shouldn’t feel this pressure that they have to shop at Forever 21 or have Instagram accounts.
Life is beautiful, and all girls are beautiful. Life is a process, and going through it helps you to grow and prepare for what lies ahead. And truthfully, I would have loved to skip puberty altogether, but I know that without it, I would not get to where I am today. Every day I learn something new, and throughout puberty I learned more and more about self-awareness and self confidence.
What you wear should not define you. What social media you have or don’t have should not define you. Whether or not you wear make should not define you. Your age, your weight, your height – none of that should define you.
You should be defined by who you are. We need to be the generation who is comfortable in our own skin.
Whether or not this 13 year old girl posed as a 19 year old girl because she was insecure, not feeling the adolescence life or just wanted to get back at her mom does not matter. What I hope for her, and all young girls, is that they remember that you are all wonderful and beautiful people. Puberty will pass and you will survive (living example: me). You will outgrow the awkwardness and begin to look normal (another living example: me). And in retrospect, it’s not all scary. In fact, it is a life changing moment when you begin to realize that you are growing up. This growing up thing happens inevitably, and when time passes, you can’t get it back. Enjoy the time that you have right now, regardless of age. You will only be 13 once – embrace it!
Never be ashamed of your age – you are special, unique, and the world needs you to be that way!
Your favorite teenager (who can’t actually claim that she is a teenager anymore),