Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Mysteries of Pre-Teen Life Revisited

Teen Magazine really had the pulse on the mysteries of pre-teen life: boyfriends, makeup, and periods. Basically these aspirations translated to crushes, lip gloss and bright nail polish, and period mishaps.

I had a jolly good time flipping through the July 2000 issue of Teen Magazine with a couple of Women's Council members. I don't think I have read an early teenage girls' magazine since that time and I had forgotten about the content of those magazines. I can look back and reminisce and laugh about that time.

I saw a Bonne Bell Lip Gloss ad in the July 2000 issue for lip gloss with a top that flipped open when you pushed a sliding button. I remember that model lip gloss. They don't even make it anymore; I checked the Bonne Bell website. We were all "addicted" to lip glosses, especially Bonne Bell's LipSmackers, in its simple cylindrical tube. They used to be as cheap as $0.99 each, but they're probably close to $2 now. That seemed like make-up to me.

One mainstay of pre-teen magazines were the Embarrassing Moments combining bodily functions, friends and family, and very bad timing. The submissions rated most embarrassing reliably combined periods, boyfriend, and extremely bad timing. A sure winner would be: I got my period when I was having dinner with my boyfriend's parents for the first time. I was wearing a white skirt and I stained their dining room chair!

Cooties did not follow me from fifth grade to sixth grade. I left them scattered like wood chips around the elementary school jungle gym. The pre-teen years made me see boys in a different light. Teen Magazine -- very timely -- was on hand to guide me through this feeling that I really wanted to talk to this boy who was in my class. It answered such burning questions as "How do I know if a boy likes me" and provided valuable advice on a very grown-up skill called flirting. Today I read an article in which a genuine teenage boy described the signs that a girl is interested in a guy: she touches you on the arm or the shoulder and smiles and laughs at everything you say.

Somehow in middle school (and to some extent high school), everyone followed the same conventions of what pre-teens thought romance. It's really cheesy to recall now, but at least we all agreed on those conventions. Yes this shows he is interested in you, no, this means you're just friends. "Going out" meant you were entitled to very intimate privileges such as going to the movies together (even though your parents had to drive you there), holding hands, and slow dancing with the same partner during Fun Nights (6-8pm in the gym with the cougar logo on the floor about once a month, I think).

If only it were still that simple. In my early adolescence, I couldn't imagine something like friends with benefits. Well, I still can't really figure that out. Oh, did we just make out? I didn't mean that. Oh, let's have sex. But I don't mean it either.

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