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Featured ArticleSeventeen and Counting

What ever would Mother say ?
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Recently I bought a teen magazine to examine the profile of a young friend who is facing challenges in a unique way. Since I am about 33 years beyond the target audience, I thumbed distractedly through the articles promising perfect skin, cool hair, and special autumn fashions in size two petite. Of course, I reacted to these delusions much differently than I had as a teenager. I'm certain that I have permanent brain damage from sleeping on giant brush rollers or beer cans. I had put everything short of toxic waste in my hair until I realized that natural shine was just that -- natural.

It was late at night; I had nothing to read. Earlier I had noticed in the afternoon paper that a pair of bell-bottom Wranglers (not even the good jeans!) size 12, ca 1970, was valued at $180.00. It was time to get the scoop on the new Maryjanes. I opened my copy and read it cover to cover, except for a few perfumed pages after which I required CPR. The toddler who tells television audiences, "I'm a big girl now," must also have read the October issue. Today's teen tabloids are addressing complex health, hygiene, and relationship issues that were only whispered about in the 60's.

Occasionally, my mother would send me to the corner market with a five dollar bill. I knew what to do. I would find the bag boy and point to the box wrapped in brown paper on the top shelf. Without a word, he hooked it with his long-handled grocery grabber. I paid the cashier and walked home. Although I have since discerned what was in that box, I never asked. I knew simply that it was a woman's thing, on the list of all the women's things that no girl ever talked about, especially with her mother. Today, I was delighted to see an article in Seventeen's Sex and Body column called: "Taking the Guesswork out of your Period." Since teenage girls probably still avoid their mothers on this and similar topics, a service is done. On the next page, a young woman in hiking gear smiles as she walks through trees. The text, an advertisement for prescription medicine, queries, "Have you ever treated a vaginal yeast infection in the middle of nowhere?" In my day, a teenage girl would probably have undergone elective gum surgery before admitting that she had a vaginal yeast infection.

Of course there were young hunks and the latest music groups. I have such vivid memories (I think they call them fantasies) of the Windsong man from the 60's that I can't remember if he was a magazine ad or an actual relationship. But alas, today's young hunks look more like my sons than my lovers. The performing artists stretch the word "music" to new definitions. As always, acne, makeup, hot nails and hairwear abound. You can't be a teen without them. But the message given to today's young women is proactive, healthy, and informative. I am heartened by the promise of Mudd Spa Treatment. Clears your pores, it guarantees. And your mind.

Written by Marcia Brown Rubinstien
October 29, 1997

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