21 November 2013

I'm very glad I'm not a teenager today

I am 24 years old, and today being a 20-something, (as I'm sure all of you Thought Catalog readers are all too aware), comes with its own host of problems from student loans to FOMO to getting your first grey hair and seriously freaking out over Ok Cupid first dates. But even with all of the problems associated with being 24, I'm glad I am not 16 anymore.


It sounds weird to say "back in my day..." when "my day" was less than a decade ago, but teenagers in 2005 and teenagers in 2013 are very different creatures. Yes, we had AIM - but Internet time wasn't unlimited. Yes, we had texting, but we also had minutes to worry about, and we Snapchat selfies were almost impossible with the grainy flip camera phone. Teenagers in 2013 are constantly on display, from Facebook, to Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat. It's hard enough to be 16 - which comes with its host of weird body changes: for me, it was a lack of boob growth, a spurt of bodily hair growth (hey, I'm Italian), and a greasy T-zone. But to constantly have to get dolled up and put my body on display? I wouldn't have survived one week.

My 17-year-old cousin has been wearing push-up bras for 2 years now, and she has been perfecting her selfie shot (which usually accentuates her blue eyes, subtle cleavage and uber-straight hairstyle). My boyfriend used to babysit this kid who's now a senior in high school. She still acts like a kid -giggling at everything - her still baby-round face cracking into a perpetual grin. But yet, her Facebook profile picture features an Instagram-filtered-picture-perfect seductive pose of her in a bikini.

Never mind the fact that oversexualizing yourself as a teenager comes with a wide array of problems - from Internet pedophiles to horny teenage boys drooling (and God knows what else), over those same seductive selfies. But it comes down to the fact that these young women are presumably spending hours of each day primping and styling to get their look just right for their day at school. And they all look the same! The gaggle of girls barely out of puberty, posing with duck faces, and peace signs in barely-there shorts and crop tops - honey-blonde hair and XOXO plastered all over the photos.

To some degree, this obsession with teenage beauty has always been an issue. But now there are likes, shares and re-tweets. Can you imagine when you were in high school walking down the hallway and getting flashed thumbs-ups or "OMG ur soooo pretty!!" signs from people who walked past? Or even worse, looking for those thumbs-up and compliments and getting none? I wouldn't have been able to crawl out of bed. Being a teenager today is like being on a perpetual digital catwalk. Something needs to be done about young women who put on much emphasis on their looks. Instead of #OOTD (hashtag: outfit of the day - complete with a bathroom selfie, and cute new Hollister outfit), why not "Got a writing scholarship! #humblebrag"?

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