teens

"I'm so glad I was a teenager pre-Instagram and had the freedom to be daggy."

I was a daggy teenager. Okay, I know it was the 1980s, and everyone was daggy, but I was really daggy.

My idea of doing something special with my hair was to put it in plaits when it was wet so that it would go frizzy when it dried. I got a fringe cut to cover up the pimples on my forehead, and would trim it myself, badly.

Most of my favourite clothes were jumpers. For some reason I thought big woolly jumpers were really attractive, especially ones with brightly coloured patterns or rustic scenes on the front.

I wore a pinafore, with a jumper underneath, to my Year 12 dance. I didn’t shave my legs till I was about 15, and even then I had to steal my older sister’s razor to do it. I got braces on my teeth when I was 16. I didn’t wear makeup till my late teens.

When I finally bought some foundation, it was cheap stuff that was nothing like my skin colour, so I would smear it halfway down my neck in a failed attempt to make it blend in. I’m glad it never occurred to me to pluck my caterpillar-like eyebrows, because I wouldn’t have had a clue where to start or stop.

But you know what? I thought I was all right.

Me as a teenager. Not only did I own some very attractive woolly jumpers, I had the BEST postcard collection. Photo supplied. 

I look at photos of myself as a teenager, and as well as seeing the dagginess, I can see the confidence. I felt pretty good about myself. I had friends (who also wore colourful jumpers when we went out) and I even had a couple of boyfriends. I was young and female and brushed my hair occasionally, and that was enough.

Pretty much everyone in my year level was a bit daggy (although I remember one very pretty girl who wore lip gloss to school, left early and became a young mum). The weird thing is, when I've reconnected with old friends via Facebook in recent years, I've been stunned at how beautiful some of them are now, in their mid-40s. They actually look more attractive now than they did as teenagers.

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I don't know. Maybe I was unusually sheltered, and my friends were all squares like me, but we weren't sexy, and I didn't feel the pressure to be.

It's not like there were no glamorous images around. I'd buy Cleo once a month. But Elle and Cindy and Linda and the others weren't my peers. They were supermodels.

I wonder if it would have been different if I'd had Instagram as a teenager. If I'd spent my days scrolling through photos of other girls my age - girls in my class, maybe even my friends - who all looked hot, all the time.

I think I would have worked out pretty quickly that woolly jumpers are not hot. If I'd posted any photos of myself I would have been able to tell, from the lack of likes and from the comments, that I was not hot, either.

Erm, not me as a teenager. Photo via iStock.

I have a daughter, who is nine. She likes taking photos with my phone. Sometimes I'll pick it up and find she's taken a selfie, usually with her tongue poking out and her eyes crossed.

But mostly she takes photos of things - her toy dinosaurs, interesting plants she sees when we go walking, the way the light falling through the window makes a rainbow in the bathroom sink.

This video explains that behind every cute photo, there is an Instagram Husband. (Post continues after video.)

I hope, if she starts using Instagram, that these are the kind of photos she posts.

I don't want her to spend too much time thinking about how she looks, especially if those thoughts make her miserable. I want her to feel like she looks fine without makeup. I want her to think it's okay to wear a woolly jumper when she goes out with friends.

I want her to have the freedom to be a daggy teenager.

If you grew up pre-Instagram, are you glad you did?

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