Ah, the teenage years...Actually, wait. No.
Growing up isn’t easy for anyone. Those years between cheerful childhood and young adulthood can make or break us but I’d say us girls who are 20-something now had it the hardest. We never had the likes of Adele proving that talent will overshadow weight, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff showing that women can rule the word and even Kristen Stewart breaking putting hope in the hearts of millions of awkward teenage girls. Instead we were bombarded with Monica Lewinsky teaching us to sleep our way to fame, Beyonce et al being far too Bootylicious for us, the plastic surgery epidemic and the size 0 phenomenon, the re-introduction 0f skinny jeans and the rise of the metrosexual male (as if we needed any more to compete with). Princess Diana sadly died far too soon, Hilary Clinton was blamed for her husband’s infidelities and Kim and Paris not only proved that sex sells but, through their not-so-private encounters, made young women across the world feel the pressure to be toned and waxed within an inch of their lives. I think the closest thing we had to a strong female role model growing up was Angelina Jolie but even she – in between her goodwill work with the UN and adopting a pack of children in need from across the world – remains best known for breaking up Hollywood’s golden couple and wearing vials of blood.
It might be too late for us young adults, but there’s a whole host of inspiring female figures for the new generation and they come in every colour, shape and size. Last Thursday was even the very first International Day of the Girl so things are looking up. Or so I thought. I came across a feature on CNN.com where the world’s leading ladies wrote messages to their 15-year-old selves. From world leaders to award winning scientists, philanthropists to sporting champions, I eagerly clicked on hoping for some real words of wisdom that didn’t sound like Chicken Soup for the Soul or Eat, Pray, Love or even Why Men Marry Bitches. Instead, it was all cryptic and “deep” and essentially, nothing we haven’t heard before. Confidence, self-belief, hard work, blah, blah, blah. Why no one can give teenage girls a dose of reality and some practical advice, I don’t know. Here are 15 things I wish someone had told me when I was 15:
1) No matter how hard you try, white iPod earphones will always turn a gross shade of brownish grey.
2) Your mum will always know when you’re lying. Always. Her reaction to your lie, however, is dependent on how nice you’ve been recently. As a rough measurement, you need 3 good deeds for every lie. If you’re planning a big fib, you might want to buy her a gift.
3) Weigh yourself on digital scales.
4) The smell of cigarette smoke + perfume/air freshener is worse than the smell of cigarettes alone.
5) Before you leave your home for an important date/party/interview, quadruple check your make-up in yellow light (your bedroom), white light (the bathroom), day light and the dark.
6) Always carry tissues.
7) Seriously, buy black earphones.
8 ) You don’t look good in hats. Not beanies, not trilbies, not even panamas.
9) Don’t be too shy to tell your hairdresser EXACTLY how you want your hair to look.
10) If you fall over, laugh.
11) Boys will only text you back if they want to text you back, no matter how many mind games you try to play.
12) There’s such a thing as too many black ballerinas (I once wore two odd shoes because I had two nearly identical pairs).
13) Boys and girls CAN be platonic friends. Incidentally, girls don’t like you because you walk around saying things like “I don’t get on with other girls,” and “girls don’t like me.”
14) Pens will explode in your bag and ruin everything at the most inopportune moments. Try pencils.
15) Black t-shirts go see-through under flash photography.