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Wednesday, January 16 , 2019, 4:20 am | Overcast 53º

 
 
 
 
Teenagers

Louise Palanker: Too Sexy, Too Soon; Feeling Peer Pressure; Reading Restrictions

Question from Cynthia

Dear Weezy, I feel my best in revealing clothes and makeup. Is that bad? I’m only 13 and some of my friends are like “I could never pull that off” whenever I wear a revealing top/dress. Which is often.

I just don’t feel good in loose or high-necked tops, loose jeans, or long conservative dresses ... 

My parents are always nagging about my outfits being too revealing and how I wear too much makeup, but wearing this type of thing gets me the most attention and compliments. Some friends say I wear too much makeup but it’s none of their business.

On picture day some of my friends were even betting on how much I would wear, but other friends were wearing more makeup than me so is what I am wearing really bad?!

Weezy

Let’s focus on you, rather than on comparing yourself to other girls. I do not like to assign the qualities of “good” or “bad” to personal style choices. However, it would be helpful to you if you were able to gain some insight into why you are making these choices.

You are a good person. Let’s start there and then move on to this question, “Is the kind of attention you are seeking and receiving through your style choices a ‘good’ kind of attention?” My view is that for a 13-year-old girl, it really is not.

Is going for the Straight-Up Sexy look EVER a good choice for a woman? That’s a deeper conversation for another day.

Right now, we are here to talk about you. This is a multilayered topic because there are many fine lines that are drawn all over a variety of maps. For now, let’s call those maps, Cute, Pretty, Beautiful, Handsome, Attractive, Hot and Sexy.

These maps usually overlap. Someone can be cute and kind of pretty. Attractive and handsome, beautiful and hot. All of the above, some of the above, and everything in between. In addition, forever note that the beholder is the final arbiter.

But for a child like you who (I assume) is not only walking through her world but also creating a social media library of images, WHILE creating her own sense of self, this can be extremely tricky.

All of these intersecting factors raise so many troubling questions. For example, do you want and need 600 “likes” on your Instagram photo if that means that you are being valued only as a potential sex object? Is that a price worth paying?

Is your sexual attractiveness your only value? Should a 13 year old ever be presenting herself as even slightly sexual?

If you are coming to see yourself as valuable only in that way then we have to stop right here and ask you why that is? Has no one ever valued your thoughts, your opinions, your viewpoints, your humor, your insights, your wisdom, your heart, your mind??

When it comes to locating yourself, your first choice is to flip right past the maps labeled Cute, Pretty and Beautiful and to place your pin squarely on the Sexy map. The word Sexy is 75 percent Sex. You are 13. This simply is not OK.

Please think more deeply about WHY you feel the most comfortable dressed like someone who is ready to be sexual. It is not just placing you in peril, it is also screaming that you do not have a ton of self-esteem. Insecure men and boys prey upon girls with low self-esteem. You are in danger.

I urge you to find the true you and show HER to the world.

Is Hollywood to blame for young girls’ fixation on being sexy?

(Entertainment Tonight video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Anna

I’m having horrific boy problems. I am in a secret relationship with someone we will call Bob. My parents made me break up with him so I could focus on school, which I now totally get.

Bob has been fighting with me over pointless things for five days. My response now is, I don’t want a boyfriend. I really should have listened to my parents about this in the first place. It really is a lot of stress keeping it a secret from everyone.

The other thing is there is a different guy (let’s say James). I’m not sure if I like him yet but he’s very fun to be around and he is part of the reason me and Bob are fighting. Now my friends are asking me if I like James, and I haven’t responded because I don’t have my thoughts together.

If I do break it off with Bob, everyone’s going to think I did it just for James, but honestly I’m not. I just want to be single.

However, I don’t want to lose my friendship with Bob’s friends. Everyone is expecting me and Bob to work it out and stay together, but I don’t want to.

Also, Bob is depressed and so if I break up with him, he’s going to be even more depressed, and I don’t want that to be my fault.

What should I do in this situation?

Weezy

Read your letter back to yourself and count the number of times you mention what SOMEBODY ELSE wants or expects from you. What your friends want. What Bob wants. What Bob’s friends want, etc.

The only request that should factor into your decision making is the one that comes from your parents. And they were the people you ignored. Why? The answer is very natural. It’s peer pressure and acceptance, and I totally get that.

But now it’s time to really take an accounting. What do you want? I think you’ve made that very clear. You want to break up with Bob, be single and maybe flirt with James a bit and have the freedom to get to know him and perhaps other people better.

DO NOT answer the question from your friends regarding whether you like James until you are single. Get yourself single. Tell Bob that you are not allowed to date and so this has just become far too stressful. You need to break up.

Do this face to face. Stick to that. He may not take it well, but when you back down to someone who is pleading and crying you will just have to start all over again another day. Break up with Bob. Mean it. Make it stick.

If he is depressed that is his issue to heal. No relationship will ever save a depressed person from being depressed. His connection with you and his depression are two separate and distinct issues. Do not confuse them. You have a right to be single. You are not obligated to date anyone.

Relationships come and go. Bob’s friends will get over it. Do what is right for YOU.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Sonya

My parents won’t let me read what I want!! My mom keeps checking every single book I read!! It’s so annoying. She literally said all the books in the YA section of the library are “too mature.” She even said The Princess Diaries is too mature for me. It was in the freaking kids section.

I mean I read every single book in the series w/o her permission, and I’ve been exposed to every little “inappropriate” topic in it ... She won’t even let me read freaking Twilight. I know it’s trash, but it’s fun and I have friends who have read it at the age of 10 ... I’m 13!

She’s checking every single book, and the only books she’ll let me read are cutesy books and ones recommended from the Internet. This is driving me nuts.

I checked out the 10th book in the Pretty Little Liars series from the library and, of course, she had to look through my books and she was like, “I think this is too mature for you.” OK, I’ve already read the first nine books and I am completely fine! I have also watched the show. Hello!

I don’t want to read baby books! What should I do!

Weezy

This period of your life is not going to last forever. One day soon you will be reading whatever you want with no resistance from anyone.

But for now, I advise that you put together a case and gather evidence to support your argument. Start by saying, “Mom, the worst problem you should have is a child who loves to read. Honestly. That is a blessing. What can we do to get on the same page here? (This pun is unpardonable.)”

Then work toward achieving more open and honest conversations with your mother about the topics you will be encountering in these books.

Tell your mom that you are looking to expose yourself to a world of thoughts and ideas that are more challenging than what you are finding in children’s literature.

Tell her that a child LEARNS when she reads. She travels. She explores. She dreams. She grows. If and when you read something disturbing you do want to be able to come to her with it so that she can help you understand. You don’t want to have to read in secret.

Why don’t you suggest a reading club between you and your mom? You will both read the same book and then discuss it.

Familiarize yourself with what your mother may be finding when she checks the Internet for appropriate books. Click here for a Goodreads list of popular eighth-grade books.

And, since you would like to read more grown-up and interesting books, how about tackling the classics?

You can make it your goal to read every book on this list before you go off to college:

Go over these lists with your mom. Choose something that you will both enjoy reading. It can be a lot of fun to read the book and then together, watch a movie version of the story. For example, I recommend Little Women.

Your mother is worried that you will be exposed to adult themes before you are ready. But remind her that you are exposed to disturbing language and concepts in the hallways at school. You need her to help you understand the big world, not to hold it back completely. That just won’t be forever possible. Suggest that you do this together.

Literature is never as dangerous as banning it tends to be. Gently suggest to your mom that you need her to be your ally in helping you to become a life-long learner.

                                                                 •        •        •

Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara​. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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