Teenagers. Where do I even start? While some people apparently did not get the memo that it’s just a phase and supposedly ends after high school, most of us have gone through the joys, tears, sebaceous glands and cheesy hair accessories of our teenage years and moved on with our lives. And I don’t know about you, but it has got to be one of the most confusing times of my life.
It’s that proverbial fork on the road where you’re not a kid anymore, but you’re not an adult yet either. On the inside, you go through a whole range of emotions that are completely alien to you. On the outside, as your hormones go on hyperdrive, acne decides to make your body its personal oyster and man oh man, do you stink. It’s understandable that most teenagers obsess about their image and how their peers perceive them!
Looking back now and knowing what I know, I would have told my teenage self Girl, like seriously, CHILL. If you are a parent to a ranting and raving teen, I think it would do you good to tell her the same. Being a teenager doesn’t have to be a pain in the neck—not for her and (hopefully) not for her mom! It can be an exciting new adventure in the process of finding herself. You may want to talk to someone else about helping her deal with the inside stuff, but I will try to guide you in helping her deal with the outside stuff: body image.
LET’S GET PHYSICAL
Studies have shown that girls tend to struggle with body image far more than boys. For a lot of teenagers, how they feel about their physical appearance can be closely linked to their self-esteem. Self-esteem is how much she values herself and it is important because it affects and influences how she acts.
The first thing to do is to help your daughter realize that in the end, her body is her own—no matter what shape, size, or color. If there are things about her that she can realistically change for the better, encourage her to make goals for her self to make the change. For example, if she wants a fitter, healthier body, you can guide her in making a plan to exercise daily and eat healthy. But ultimately, and I’m sure you would agree, she will have to learn to be happy with her self the way she is.
Since I do not intend to hog the Internet with self-help 101, I’ll zero in on one of the things that cause major self-hate drama: hair.
HAIR, THERE, EVERYWHERE!
Any teenage girl in her right mind knows that her hair is her crowning glory. And as such, it must be treated with utmost care. An average person has about 100,000 hairs on the head, so your daughter’s got her work pretty much cut out for her. Here are some tips to keep her hair healthy, shiny and the total envy of every other teenage girl (or boy).
But first, the basics. Each hair shaft has three layers: two inner layers and one outside layer called the cuticle, which protects the other two. If the hair is shiny, it means it’s healthy. This is because the layers of cuticle are lying flat and reflecting light. When the scales of the cuticle lie flat, they overlap tightly, protecting the inner layers of the hair from heat, chlorine, dirt and other hazards in the environment. But if the hair is damaged, the scales may separate and your hair can become dry. When this happens, the scales cannot protect the inner layers, resulting to hair breakage or dullness.
HAIR CARE BASICS
Caring for your teenager’s hair depends on her type of hair, her way of styling it and her lifestyle. But in general, whether it’s dry and curly or straight and fine, hair needs to be treated gently especially when it’s wet. Wet hair is more vulnerable to breakage or cuticle damage. Using a hot blow-dryer or any styling products that use heat on very wet hair can damage it.
Now, a lot of teens have to deal with overly active oil glands so before she freaks out, assure her that it’s normal. If her hair is oily, it’s okay to wash it once a day. Same thing: frequent washing won’t harm it if it’s treated gently when it’s wet. Although, it may be better to use a mild shampoo or one designed for oily hair.
On the other hand, if it’s dry, it’s a good idea to wash it less frequently. Look for shampoos specifically made for dry hair. Hair conditioners may also help.
Plus, did you know that getting a haircut regularly is actually one of the best ways to keep hair healthy? A haircut can help protect the ends of her hair from splitting and damage.
LOVE YOUR LOCKS
No matter what your daughter’s hair type is, it always looks flattering if a little effort is given in styling it. There are so many styles you can try with her, especially if she has very long hair. Her only limit is her imagination (and maybe some funding from you).
Women have been styling their hair for ages and in fact, hair accessories like the hairpin even date all the way back to early Greek, Roman and Egyptian times! Some anthropologists even believe that early cave dwellers used sticks, thorns, or bones on their hair as sort of crude hair clips.
If your daughter is feeling flashy and creative, she can use hair accessories to jazz things up. There is a whole range to choose from—all different kinds, different styles, different colors for whatever suits her hair and her personality best.
Nothing adds more flair to ho-hum locks than fun and unique hair clips . Who said only kiddos can wear ‘em? A dainty hair clip not only makes for an interesting accessory, it also helps keep your teen’s hair away from her face. This then helps keep acne away from her face too. She will be grateful for life, believe me!
If she’s the type to join the bandwagon, you can help her style her hair with curling or straightening irons ala Hollywood’s teens. Just remember to be careful when using them. Over-usage will dry out her hair and damage it. Be strict about this: don’t allow her to even think that she can get lazy and use iron over wet hair! Also, advice her to give her hair vacations from styling every now and then. Allow it to breathe for maybe a day or two and just let her hair down.
Or why not hit the jackpot and combine the two? Iron her hair as she pleases and then finish off with lovely hair accessories. Just have fun with it and let her enjoy expressing her self.
There are plenty of ways to deal with all the crazy changes in your teenager’s body. It is important to instill in her the truth that in the end, if she wants others to accept her for who she is, she must accept her self for who she is first. At least, for starters, she’s got one momma who loves her to death (albeit a challenge to do, sometimes) and who is very proud of her. She’s only young once! It’s okay to eat more chocolate, dance like a madman, wear some polka dots, talk to the neighbor’s cat! She shouldn’t waste her youth on too much drama, we both know there’s already enough waiting for her on the other side. Whoops…