Tag Archive for puberty

Puberty is a Rip-Off
In which I fish for compliments and ponder the struggles of being short.

So here’s a question for you…

At what age, exactly, did you first realize that you weren’t going to be beautiful?

Like, maybe you were okay looking, but when did you realize that you were never gonna be heart-stoppingly life-destroyingly gorgeous?

For me, it was a very specific moment. I was at the orthodontist in eighth grade, and he was looking at an x-ray of my hand to determine how much longer it would be until I could get jaw surgery.

“Well, you see,” he said to my mother, “there’s no real space left between the bones of her hand, so she’s pretty much done growing.”

And that was the moment when I realized that this was where I peaked.

See, I’m a pretty short person, and I don’t mean the tiny, fae-like sort of short. I’m more like the…stubby, hobbit kind of short. I’ve been short since day one. I was a short baby probably. I started out short, and whenever I grew, the other kids grew proportionately, so it’s just been a lifetime of shortness.

This has only been exacerbated by my twin brother, who is a giant. He has always been a giant. He is, currently, over a foot taller than me. They literally thought he was going to eat me in the womb. It’s probably the biggest injustice of my life.

And the real issue is that, when you’re a short kid and your behemoth of a brother is making fun of your shortness, adults always say the same thing: “She’ll grow.”

They talk about how they were short as a kid, or they throw around fancy words like “growth spurt” and “growing pains,” and it all adds up to that fact that I entered into puberty with certain expectations. There I was—little fifth grade worm Rachel—waiting to enter a pubescent chrysalis stage and bust out of it as sexy grown-up butterfly Rachel.

Now, I knew that there would be a given amount of acne, and I understood the whole business with a period, but those were all pitched to me as being mere steps in the process to becoming Adult! Rachel.

So in my imagination, puberty was a lot more transformative than it actually turned out to be. It would straighten my nose, fluff my boobs, plump my lips, and make me taller. And by the end I would be a contestant on America’s Next Top Model, because that’s what adulthood is, right?

Now imagine all of those expectations, all of those hopes and dreams, and they’re all smushed by some orthodontist telling you that your height had peaked at five-foot-two.

Okay, five foot one.

People act as if puberty is very cut and dry, start to finish. There’s kid you, there’s teenage you, and there’s adult you. So I hope I wasn’t the only one to have the shock of a lifetime when I realized one day that, hey, adult me is already here, and she still has acne!

I hope I wasn’t the only one to have the disappointing thought that this is as good as it gets.

Please don’t misunderstand. I get by. I have no real issues with how I look. I actually think I’m pretty goshdarn cute. It’s just that I was all set to become a ten, and instead I settled into, like, a six and a half (in the right light). You know, all right, but nothing really special.

And that could have been the sad end to my puberty tale except that there’s a little secret nobody tells you in middle school—

It’s hard work to be pretty.

Being pretty takes time and determination and make-up and spanx. It requires a whole lot of effort. Pretty girls don’t just wake up that way. Well, okay, maybe some lucky jerks do, but most people don’t just wake up one day and find out they’ve become gorgeous (barring plastic surgery). Pretty is something you have to cultivate. Famous people and super models look that way partially because of fortunate genetics, but also because someone is paid a lot of money to spend two hours putting make-up on them.

And the thing is, you can approach this in a few ways:

  1. You can say, “screw it. Screw everything. Screw Tyra Banks and her stupid tv show.”
  2. You can say, “I have control over how I look, and I am able to make myself prettier if I want to.”
  3. Or you can embrace a cautious mix of numbers 1 and 2.

Now, I’m never gonna be on America’s Next Top Model. (Their minimum height requirement is 5’7, the fascists.) But I also sure as hell don’t look the same as I did at age thirteen. Even if I haven’t grown in height, I’ve learned about make-up, I’ve figured out how to dress myself better (thirteen-year-old Rachel really liked cargo pants) and I’ve taken plenty of bombin’ selfies. Turns out it is possible to take the bum deal that puberty gave you and make your own gorgeous out of it. And whether that means t-shirts and yoga pants or sundresses and sandals, we’re allowed to change ourselves into any version we like.

And, just a heads up, at six-foot-three my brother is well within the requirements of America’s Next Top Model, so that’s something for him to start working towards.

 

Rachel Sudbeck

 

Freckles: beauty or beast?

Freckles

I got my first freckle when I was almost nine; I had noticed it on the left side of my chin. My first case of denial was born; I didn’t want freckles. I wanted to have clear skin like the numerous models I had seen in make-up commercials.

Since I was still a kid, I had never paid attention to the fact that everyone in my family was covered in freckles. Especially their arms. When I finally did notice, I was terrified. I couldn’t tell you a specific reason why freckles scared me, but I knew I didn’t want them.

Skip ahead to when I was thirteen: the dreaded puberty began, and so did the agglomeration of freckles. My arms were targeted first and then my face. For a long tome I had a bridge of freckles that traveled from one cheek, across my nose, and to the other. It sure wasn’t the way to make me feel pretty. I hated them, and I hated when people would point them out and call them cute. What was cute about freckles? The way they made people stare? No.

When I first started experimenting with make-up about a year later, I discovered concealer, but to my dismay it refused to work for freckles. Still, I was determined to make them disappear. I wanted my skin to appear smooth and free from any sort of discoloration.

But what I didn’t know then was that I was doomed from the start. They just kept appearing, and eventually I started to lose track of how often new ones would pop up. Before I knew it, I was covered from head to toe.

Yes, they are even on my feet. Weird, I know.

And my upper lip. I literally have a freckle mustache.

The strange part about it all? I started to be okay with it. I suppose once you’re forced to deal with something for so long, you learn to accept it. And the thing is, no one really cared that I had freckles. It was just me. And now, at almost twenty-one, I wouldn’t want to look any other way.

I love my freckles. To be honest, they make me feel pretty. I think they draw out the better things about my face, and without them I  wouldn’t recognize myself. They have become an integral part of my identity. I smile when I see them, and while it took me a good amount of time to get to this point, I can honestly say I’m happy to be here.

Embrace the freckles.

Brittany Eldridge

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