What I do get from that photo though is my complete innocence and obvious unawareness of just how much of a dork I actually am. And in truth, I don't actually even remember being or feeling like a total dork in early high school. I don't even think that anyone picked on me for that horrific hairdo or for being a pretty big sado, even though that photo does scream sad on so many levels. However, I do firmly believe that if any teenager rocked up to high school looking like that these days that they would be eaten alive by their peers.
Now I don't want to paint an inaccurate picture of high school in the eighties being all rainbows and one big lovey-dovey getalong fest, because that would be total bullshit, it wasn't like that at all. High school in the eighties was also a brutal and cruel landscape that teenagers had to endure and attempt to maneuver through with as little baggage and a need for therapy at the other end. I'm pretty sure that high school in any decade came with it's own unique challenges and horrific coming of age awkwardness. However, when I was at high school the standards and expectations around teenage beauty were quite different and without any social media saturation, I think that the pressures to conform to certain physical standards were much lower for us than they are for teenagers now.
Back in my day, every teenage girl wanted to look like the gorgeous teenage models on the front of Dolly magazine, but honestly even those perfect specimens were really quite normal and healthy looking Australian teens. Some of them even had visible imperfections, and since airbrushing was not a practised art, those girls looked real and felt quite accessible. They weren't glossy or perfect and they really looked like teenage girls and not like young adults. Some Dolly cover girls even had crooked teeth, thick unplucked eyebrows and heaven forbid -everyday faces! And the magazine regularly had articles and advice about realistic health and wellbeing issues that teenage girls legitimately faced at that time. I loved Dolly when I was a teenager and some of those self empowerment articles helped me to believe in my inner beauty and find confidence in my own imperfect skin.
I actually work across the road and around the corner from two secondary schools and everyday I see gorgeous teenage girls walking to and from school. Some of those girls look years older than they actually are and so many of them have dreadful posture because they are slumped over their iphones as they travel around. Some of them will never truly understand the power that they have right now; the poor things can't even see their own potential, youth and beauty because they are so caught up in trying to be part of a manufactured and unrealistic standard. And because of that, they are robbing themselves of their right to be innocent and imperfect.
How fast do your teenage years go? So damn fast and once they are gone, they are gone forever. You literally have the entire rest of your life to perfect your flaws, find your signature look and climb upon the wheel of lifelong beauty struggles as most adult women tend to do. However, in your teenage years it's totally fine to have imperfect teeth and skin, it's okay to have some puppy fat and a bad perm, it's expected that you will wear clothes that are not in your colours or that suit your style and body shape, and above all it's your time to embrace looking like a total dork and not even caring about it!
Sure, I looked like a trainwreck in Year 8, but I was blissfully unaware of that and I am so glad that I got to have those early teenage years of innocence and oblivion. Who knows what kind of an obsessive nutter I would be now if I hadn't have had that time? I shudder at the thought, and I also feel so very sorry and mostly sad for all of the gorgeous teenagers out there that are already overthinking things way too much for their own good, underestimating their appearance and not revelling in a soon to be lost and never to be returned - age of innocence.
Release Date: 2018
Rating: MA 15+
Running Time: 94 mins
Written and directed by stand up comedian Bo Burnham, this coming-of-age tale had me squirming in my seat with it's accurate and embarrassingly memorable recount of early adolescence and teenage awkwardness.
Kayla Day is completing her final week of eighth grade and preparing to enter high school. Shy and socially awkward, Kayla spends her free time making motivational videos on YouTube that get little to no views. Between navigating social media, school cliques, crushes and her clingy single father, Kayla is just trying to do her best to stay optimistic.
This movie feels so genuine and real, the character of Kayla (played perfectly by Elsie Fisher) offers an accurate and unpolished version of early teenage awkwardness that was so desperately missing from the coming-of-age genre and it is delivered in such a fresh and plausible way.
Although completely different in so many ways to my own adolescent experiences, there were still moments when I recognised the awkward longings and difficulties of Kayla as I watched; proving that teenagers are still just teenagers and that growing pains haven't changed all that much in 30 years.
FINAL SAY: Growing up can be a little bit scary and weird.
3.5 Chilli Peppers