We all want to change something about our appearance. Sometimes that's healthy, sometimes it's not so healthy. Read what our Mentors and experts have to say in response to kids' questions about this subject.
Advice Questions about How You Look:
- "I don't really have the best fashion sense in the world and I guess you're probably going to say that I should just be myself and people should like me for who I am. But, being a teenager (or pre-teen in my case) isn't about being out there, it's about fitting in. I see my friends wearing good clothes, and mine are OK. It's not that I want to be like them, I just want be in the same fashion zone. Any advice?"
- "I am really tall for my age, And I mean REALLY TALL. Almost everyone I know is shorter than me and can do everything better. And because I am tall, I weigh more than others, It makes me feel fat too, because I couldn't jump on a trampoline with a friend because the max weight is 300 lbs.! I’m 130! Can you help me?"
- "I have a "beauty mark" (as my parents call it) on my right cheek, and some people say I look beautiful, but I'm starting to doubt it's true. I know that it's what counts on the inside, not the outside, but sometimes people who are too judgmental make fun of me and call me "moley" or "mole face" and it really hurts my feelings. Sometimes I even come home crying. In 6th grade, even a 5th grader made fun of me! How do I just brush it off?"
- "I hate wearing shorts and tanks because I'm hairy all over and my mom and dad won't let me shave. I am 13 and everyone else is doing it. I feel very ugly. How should I go about this?"
- "I think my thighs are huge. I'm pretty, have a lot of friends, a boyfriend, and a lot of people like me. I'm a size 4 or 5 in jeans, and I want to be a size 2 again. When I go swimming, I always wear board shorts. I exercise, but only in gym, and I have that twice every day! What can I do to be smaller?"
- "I'm sort of hesitant about wearing makeup. I used to think makeup was totally stupid and fake looking, but now I think that if applied sparingly I could maybe improve my appearance. However, I don't want to overdo it. How much makeup can girls my age wear to school without looking like they're trying to be provocative? Sometimes girls get gossiped about because they wear too much all the time, and they also look a bit silly. Also, people sometimes wear makeup because they're insecure. I'm not insecure, and I don't want people to think that I'm uncomfortable in my shoes. I adamantly dislike eyeliner and mascara, but I sort of like eye shadow and lipstick. Can you give me any advice about how much to wear?"
- "I'm really skinny. I mean REALLY! My parents call me 'ottery', and ifyou've ever seen an otter, than you can probably imagine how skinny I am. But the bad thing is, my friends are larger than I am! I think when I wear tight shirts and jeans it makes them feel fat. I like wearing tight clothes, but I don't want to insult them (as in make them feel fat). What should I do?"
- "I have the biggest nose in the whole world! It's all fat and big! I don't know what to do! See, I used to have a lot of problems. For example, I used to be fat, so to fix it I started doing exercise, I used to be weak and couldn't defend myself, so to fix it I got into karate. I used to be short and I got really tall. Everybody says that I'm pretty and the most perfect girl but now I have problem I can't fix. What should I do? At what age can I get a nose job?"
- "I have been called ‘short’ since first grade. Now I’m in 5th grade, and I look like I'm in kindergarten! My 6-year-old cousin is as tall as me! What do I do?"
- "Okay, I am kind of gothic, and wear the whole black clothes thing and hot pink bracelets. I think it’s killing my chances of being asked out by guys, and that is a drag. I mean, all the people I know are dating and I hate feeling left out. What do I do?"
- "I'm very big-chested for my age. A ‘C’ actually. My friends always give me positive comments about my bust, but I'm not so sure if having them that big is a good thing because I feel I'm not ‘one of them.’ What should I do or how should I feel?"
- "I don't think I'm very pretty. There are all these girls at school who have awesome hair that's curly, or is done really neat, while I have red hair that's extra long and is always in a braid. There are also girls who wear make-up and nail polish, when my parents say I can't, but I don't know why. Pretty much everyone I know has that stuff. Could you help me?"
- "I know this is pretty odd to talk about to a person that you don't really know. I don't have anything on the 2 upper parts, if you know what I mean, and I am always embarrassed! Just today, I tried to look for a bathing suit
in the Juniors department, but none of them fit me. In the little girls section, they are too babyish!!! What should I do?"
- "I have a party coming up and we are going to be swimming, but I don't want to take part in it because I think I'm fat. All my friends are going to be there and I like swimming, but people make fun of my weight. What should
- "I have a sports day coming up, but I really don't want to take part. I think I'm fat because I have stretch marks on my legs. What should I do?"
- "My dad doesn't want me to shave [my legs], but my mom will let me if I'm up to it. What should I do?"
I don't really have the best fashion sense in the world and I guess you're probably going to say that I should just be myself and people should like me for who I am. But, being a teenager (or pre-teen in my case) isn't about being out there, it's about fitting in. I see my friends wearing good clothes, and mine are OK. It's not that I want to be like them, I just want be in the same fashion zone. Any advice?
Trust me, I know how you feel. One way to get to where your friends are fashionably is to pay attention to what they're wearing; another thing you can do is pick up a magazine for preteens. Lots of them advertise clothing and fashion tips! While I wouldn't suggest buying name-brand stuff if you can get away with it (department store jeans don't really look any different from name brands, for example), one way of fitting in fashionably is to find a brand that many of your friends are wearing and buying t-shirts and shirts from that brand. Not all name-brand stores are expensive, so try to find a popular but cheaper brand. Make sure that you don't go way out there with styles, though. Fashionable clothes are only popular for a little while, and you don't want to have to buy clothes every two months when something goes out of style. Also, don't be afraid to experiment a little. I stayed away from ballet flats for the longest time, but when I finally got a pair I realized that I could wear them with practically anything -- they're nice enough for dresses but toned-down enough for jeans and a t-shirt as well. Good luck!
--Sarah, IML Mentor
I fell into this trap too when I was twelve, and I hate to say what everyone else does, but it really is best to not go out of your way to always wear the current fashion. The fashion culture has the attention span of a goldfish; sometimes you're in the loop, and sometimes you're not. What's fashionable this year is probably going to be passe next year. And besides, are you really going to be happy constantly trying to imitate the people around you? It really is best to wear what screams "you," not something that screams "Christina" or "Melissa". Speaking from experience, it's also a lot more fun. I buy a lot of my clothes from thrift stores, and it's really cool when I'm the only one wearing something and not wearing the same thing as thirty other girls. I've gained self-confidence as a result -- and I've saved my parents money. If you're too shy to do this, I would just play it safe. Don't buy anything that screams the current trend -- it'll be out of fashion in a year or so, and it'll be expensive right now. Just buy some brand-name shirts, sports jerseys, and jeans...those never go out of style!
--Yulia, IML Mentor
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