"Did you see what Gigi Hadid was wearing yesterday? That girl is literally goals."
I heard this as I walked by a group of overly made-up tweens on Sunset Boulevard while on a date to Amoeba Records with my boyfriend. The girls, in classic SoCal fashion, were decked out in cropped Brandy Melville t-shirts, high-rise 'mom jeans' and Adidas shell-toes. Their makeup was straight out of a YouTube tutorial and their hair perfectly straight. They couldn't have been older than 14 but, were it not for their boyish flat chests and frail frames, they appeared much older. One of them, the tallest with black-painted nails, clutched her iPhone 6 as she desperately scrolled through her Instagram feed.
"I just want like, everything she wears."
What ever happened to the awkward phase? When I was 13 I had no friends, bad hair and braces. I was a tween in the age of Paul Frank and denim mini skirts. I was a huge fan of wearing leggings under skirts and short-sleeved tees over the longer sleeved ones from The Gap. I was also too tiny to fit into Forever 21 and H&M at that time so Children's Gap was my shopping haven, whether I liked it or not. I wore shiny lip gloss, butterfly clips and ill-fitting clothes.
It seems like tweens today just gloss over that phase entirely. We've created a breed of overly made-up glamazons in our middle schools. They have iPhones and fake eyelashes. I once saw a girl no older than 12 in the CVS beauty aisle talking very angrily with her mother on the phone.
"But Mom I need the foundation! I have acne and dark circles and redness!'
I picked up my mascara off the shelf and hightailed it to the self check-out. I was in a state of acute distress overt the state of the youth. My mother had done her best to shield me from the woes of makeup until the eighth grade when, in an act of rebellion, I snuck concealer and mascara into my bag and applied it on the C train en route the Upper West Side. I came upon the YouTube beauty community around this same time, and it was a slippery slope from there. By high school I was repping a full face of makeup products. By sophomore year I was contouring.
But there's a difference between a seventeen year old girl putting on eyeshadow and eyeliner before she goes out to a party and an eleven year old girl who is insecure about the natural redness of her skin.
In an age of Brandy Melville and Instagram models, it's easy to get caught up. It's hard for me, a 20 year-old college sophomore, to avoid the glossy edited form of beauty I'm bombarded with. When you have bloggers on YouTube who are younger than you -- Maddi Bragg, one of Youtube's brightest young stars, is hardly out of high school and has been making videos since she was 15 -- showing you how to apply false lashes and talking about their weight loss schemes, it's hard not to compare their lives to yours. I can only imagine what it's like for a girl a few years younger than me: you see girls who are the same age as you wearing a full face of makeup and you automatically assume that it's normal because, if she can do it, why shouldn't you?
I might have been the most awkward and the most insecure middle schooler there ever was but, looking back, I'm thankful for it. Not only did having an incredibly awkward awkward phase give me something to vault off of beauty-wise when I did grow up. but it taught me that it's okay to not wear makeup every day and that it's okay to not look perfect. I grew up in an age where wearing a lot of makeup was odd, not the norm. And thank God. It taught me humility and to find comfort in who I was naturally.
So, here's a call to the tween generation of America: You're 12 -- put down the iPhone and the mascara, and pick up the makeup wipes. You only have a few years of life before the pressures of modern-day society rip you to shreds with makeup and fashion, so thrive!