My niece is a fan of Miley Cyrus. Personally when I see her on TV I get the urge to stick pins in my eyes.
I can’t be coping with over-confident teenagers, especially over confident American teenagers. This is probably because they are the antithesis to everything I was a teenager.
I lacked confidence, grace and the ability to wear figure hugging clothes. I lacked (and still do lack) a decent singing over, glossy hair and the ability to apply make up without looking like a drag queen.
Picture the scene if you will. Derry - the early 90s. I have a bad perm, bad skin and braces on my teeth. Our family budget didn’t really stretch to Levi jeans and Nike trainers, so it was apparel from Dunnes Stores and trainers emblazoned with the logo Nicks which filled my wardrobe.
I had one funky, purple hooded top from Supertramp which I thought was the bee’s knees. The rest of my wardrobe was, frankly, disturbing. For someone of 14 or 15 I seemed to have had a deep desire to dress like a 45 year old. There is shocking photographic evidence out of chinos and polyester blouses all accessorized with a healthy dose of cheap yet ugly plastic jewellery.
My one attempt at coolness was wearing a baseball cap similar the one Matt Goss from Bros wore but with my I-can’t-believe-they’re-not-Levis and my Truform ‘can’t-believe-they’re-not- DMs’ I never quite managed to pull off the look.
As for the school Formal - if I could go back in time to my 17 year old self and impart any words of wisdom I would most definitely extol the virtues of a good eyebrow wax.
I was, quite honestly, a complete and utter nerd. I never went to the cool places. The Venue was not for me - instead me and my friends would try and argue our way into the Embassy where I would drink my blackcurrant and white lemonade while giving it lilty to some dodgy Ace of Base track.
I’d be home for one, sober as a judge and ready for work (in my polyester uniform) at the local supermarket the following day.
My make up kit consisted of a few broken bits and pieces from the Bodyshop and when I think of my record collection, I cringe when I think of some the tracks which I bought and held in great esteem. Three words people “Ice, Ice Baby”.
So when I look at teenagers today I do feel a hint of jealous rage build up inside me. They all just seem to have it together. Girls these days seem to leave primary school with an indepth knowledge of hair tinting and straightening. Even the smallest of first years seems to know how to apply a covering of foundation without looking as if they trowelled it on. (I am wondering, perhaps, if some of them might want to give me a lesson in make up application one day?).
Dressing to impress starts at an early age. My niece (the Miley Cyrus fan) has no qualms at all about turning her nose up at anything she considers to be “dootsie”. I took her out to buy her an outfit recently and when I lifted anything that looked, to my eye, as if it would just be absolutely perfect for an eight year girl she rolled her eyes and lifted something that looks as it was designed for someone two or three times her age. “But I like thisssssss” she would hiss and in the end we had to agree to disagree.
I bought a T-shirt for the boy and some tights for the baby and headed home to practise straightening my hair again in the hope that one day I’ll have shiny straight locks worthy of a L’Oreal ad.
There is a part of me, however, who feels sorry for the Miley Cyrus-alikes of this world - the girls who don’t have to go through that awkward, geeky pubescent stage and emerge like swans after.
The geeky stage - yes even up to the age of 16 or 17 - was when I was able to let go of the last vestiges of childhood in my own time.
I didn’t have to worry if I looked a mess because all around me there were teenage girls going through the same bad hair/ bad skin/ bad dress sense dilemma.
We didn’t feel the pressure to look and act like grown ups when we were 14 or 15 and still feeling that little bit bewildered with the world. There was little chance of our elders branding us as cheeky wee upstarts because we knew the line between adult and child perfectly and no one ever crossed between the two.
Miley Cyrus is a child (albeit hurtling into her adult years) in an adult world. She has to try that little bit harder to fit in. She has to market herself as if she is on a level with grown ups with proper jobs and grown up responsibilities.
She can’t ever achieve this - and nor can our young girls who seem to be forced to grow up at a faster and faster rate.
What will we have next? Padded bras for five years olds? Ah - wait a minute, we’re already there.
I make a call to all young girls now, embrace your inner geekdom. Be a child if you feel like a child. Straightening your hair can wait until tomorrow - get out and have some innocent fun instead.
Reading At The Edge - I'm delighted to return to Cavan on Tuesday, next week for At The Edge, run by Kate Ennals. Do come and join it, it's a terrific line up and there's an op...
22 hours ago