Monday, 30 November 2009


In the bathroom. My daughter was putting on foundation in the mirror. Her skin is perfect.
"Why do you wear foundation?" I asked. "At your age?"
"Because I've got skin like an old woman" she said "everybody teases me about it at school. I've got those things...that old men get when they drink ..."
"Thread veins?"
"Yeah, that. I've got tons of blemishes and I have to cover them up"
I looked at my face in the mirror. I had crinkly bags under my eyes. I pushed at my skin, it doesn't spring back into place as it would have a few years ago. Even a year ago.
I seemed to have aged enormously since starting The Underground Restaurant. In fact I haven't properly looked at myself for a while, being so busy. I've neglected any 'beauty routine'.
Next to me was my teen...her perfect heart shaped face...
I sit on the toilet and sigh: "So apart from your weight, your height, the little bump on your eyelid and your old ladies' skin...what else do people at school criticize about you? It seems, according to them, you are absolutely hideous"
"Look that's how it is. Everybody cusses everybody else." my daughter says patiently as if speaking to a retard.
"Do you?"
"Yeah. 'Course. Probably."
"You slag off other people's looks?"
"Well my friends and especially S."
"Why S?"
S. is particularly beautiful, tall and slim with almond-shaped eyes and great hair. She's been spotted by model agencies.
"Everybody has a go at S" snorts my teen "because she's so perfect".
"Does she get upset?"
"Yes, sometimes she cries"
"So you are all making each other feel bad? I mean you come home and cry too" I state.
My teen shrugs.

Cussing, that is, the art of putting each other down, does seem to be worse than it was in my youth. I wonder if it comes from 'freestyle rap battles'. It must be hard, though, for teenagers to build up any self-esteem when every imperfection is ruthlessly targeted. Or does it toughen them up?


  1. Just how can we get our teens, (mine not so teen any more)to see how beautiful they really are. Mine often catches my eyes looking at her and immediately thinks I'm critiquing her appearence, when really I'm seeing how beautiful she is and want to drink in the vision of loveliness that I carried for 9 months, and bore all those years ago.

  2. Pre-teens are at it too!
    My 10 year old is more worried about what her "friends" think of her than her own happiness!

  3. I'm no great looker but I don't really remember it being this bad when I was teenager. Most of stuff aimed at me was about me wearing glasses. Having said that, I do think it's different now and when I notice all the Barbie Bratz rubbish advertised on tv it seems there's a huge market to teach our little girls to aspire to WAGs and porn stars which is very sad.

  4. I'll be honest with you, I don't think it toughens them at all. We women tend to grow up with serious self esteem issues...and I figure it starts way back.

    Anyhow, I applaud you...100 times for step-by-step illustrating what's going on.

    Sometimes, I feel so bad for teenagers, knowing that they can't see even a couple of years down the road. What happens to us at that age????

  5. Thanks for your comments everyone.
    Yes I agree, women have terrible self -esteem issues. I'm no exception.
    I also wonder if it's because she goes to a mixed school, they seem so ruthless with each other.

  6. Have you seen the film Mean Girls? I strongly recommend that you watch it with your daughter.

    When my daughter got the DVD I really didn't relish the prospect of watching another Lindsay Lohan teen flick, but I actually really enjoyed the film (it's written by and stars Tina Fey, and features several other Saturday Night Live comedians) - I've watched it with my kids several times since, and enjoy it as much every time.

    Anyway, my point was that it's about exactly this type of behaviour in teenage girls. And unlike most "movies with a moral", it makes its point well and manages to be a fun watch at the same time.

    Apparently the film is based on this non-fiction book, about teenage girls' verbal bullying:

  7. Yes we have, it's spot on that movie...
    Sent you an email about my broken feeds Dan.
    How old is your daughter?


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