Green and golden

I am now at the age where I find the loveliness of teenage girls almost unbearable.  I have to look away from  them on trains because if I did look at them, I’d stare and stare and stare and it would all be very creepy indeed.

They are so young, and so beautiful, and they cover up skin that’s clearer than snow with claggy make-up because they have no idea how beautiful they are, or how soon they will stop being young.  And they are still beautiful despite the claggy make-up, and the ill-judged and unbalanced clothes, and their dreadful garish accessories.

Hark at me, as if I know how to choose clothes and accessories.  And I didn’t when I was young, either, but I bet I was beautiful then and I had absolutely no idea.

And you too.

And the old lady sitting across the aisle, fidgeting with her walking stick and her handbag.  So many summers ago, she was sitting on the train with her sisters, comparing the cheap trinkets they’d bought in town on a Saturday as the train sped them all into the here and now.

There are so many layers of poignance right there on the train.

9 responses to “Green and golden

  1. Oh God. I so agree.

    My own littlest sister is so beautiful I stare at her mesmerised every time I see her. She was covered in fake tan last time. She looked like a lovely, velvet-skinned persimmon. *sigh*

    Worse than that, I recently found a photo of myself at seventeen, when I was still skinny, wearing, well, very little. Oy vey my LEGS. They were FABULOUS. I never knew. Sob sob sob.

  2. That’s why every teenage girl needs someone near her to tell her that she is lovely, so that she doesn’t grow up and say “I never knew”. I remember asking my mother what my best feature was and she said, “Your hair”. So I grew up thinking the rest was crap.

  3. SonofRojBlake

    Oddly enough, it’s less unbearable to see if you’re a bloke.

    On the other hand, the sheer repulsiveness of teenage boys is heartening, because as a male, you remember being repulsive. You look back at your teenage years, at the black suit with shoulder pads and spangly, textured cloth, the pencil thin white leather tie and the slip on shoes with no socks (insert your own fashion disasters here if you’re not from the late 80s) and think “WHAT?”. You marvel that you weren’t a virgin till you were 25. And then you look at a photo of yourself from that time. And think “Hmm. Actually, I was still pretty ropy at 25.” And then you look at yourself today… no pimples. Skin a little weathered. Hair well cut, instead of trimmed for a fiver. A hint of manly stubble perhaps, instead of desperately cultured bumfluff in a pathetic line under the nose like a performing ferret. The beginnings of greying hair. The confidence and coordination of a body you’ve grown into. And you think “back when I was young enough to leer at teenage girls without worrying about being put on a register, why couldn’t I have been more like THIS?”.

    I can honestly say I’ve never actually wanted to be any age other than what I am right now. But that was only because I was enjoying being young and didn’t realise how much more fun being older would be.

    A reflection on your comment, Aphra, and my response: one has to wonder if the people who have it best, in this respect, are FtMs. Imagine being a mature man, with all the advantages that brings (i.e. actually getting better looking as you get older – and this is not solely vanity on my part, ALL of my male friends are a good deal better looking now than they were 20 years ago). But imagine not having years of being a gawky teenage boy to look back on. Then again, I guess you’d be looking back on being a teenage girl who wanted to be a man, so I guess that doesn’t work quite as well.

    Not for the first time, I wish I lived in Ian M. Banks’s The Culture, where thanks to advanced genetic modification and endocrinology, gender reassignment is simply a matter of concentrated will, and pretty much everyone does it at some point during their lifetime. One would have to be a seriously dull person, I think, not to wish you could live for a while as the opposite gender, assuming one could do so without pain or social problems…

  4. Have been thinking along these very lines over the last couple of weeks, AB. Instead of posting at length here, I’ve decided to put my personal slant on the subject over at mine own place.

    * goes to stand in the corner marked Verging On Seriously Dull

    I have occasionally wondered what swapping gender would feel like – but then, I’ve also wondered what it would be like to have enormous breasts.
    All in all, I’m comfortable in my own skin, thanks.

  5. A timely post: I found a picture of myself on an old Karate licence from about 1986 I would have been 17years old then. Boy did I look different. My head just seemed to be bigger then for some reason. I never really got comfortable and settled with my looks until I was about 32years old though now the old balding pate is getting worse. Luckily, I only get a blurred view of it when the hairdresser pops the mirror up at the end of the haircut.

    Thing is it seems young girls are trying to look more grown up with the make-up etc. And they don’t look particularly beautiful. No woman of any age who wears ‘too much make-up’ looks beautiful. The more natural look the better.

    At least girls have a possibility of making themselves look older. Boys…what can they do? Wear stupid fashionable clothes that look stupid on ‘grown men’ and even worse on young boys.

    Although the general fashion for the last few years for men has simply been chequed shirts not tucked in and gelled hair – slightly more bearable than SoRB’s get up and a lot more bearable than flares and tank-tops.

  6. I look at pictures of myself as a teenager and feel so sad I found myself then so ugly. Everything was so freaking easy then – the hair, the skin, etc. I wish I could go back and comfort teenage me. And I agree – it would be nice if someone could let these young girls know just how gorgeous they are!

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  8. Thank you Reed. I thought you’d know where I was coming from. I at least do know that I never had fabulous legs, though the rest of me was better than I knew.

    Charlotte, you are so right. The opposite of the slave who whispers “you too shall die” – perhaps one who whispers “you too shall pull”!

    SoRB. I’m with you that I’ve always felt pretty comfortable with my own age, even if I do feel rather startled by it now. I have always considered youth and beauty to be fate’s way of making up to the young for their folly, awkwardness and ignorance.

    Teuchter, by co-incidence I was just thinking about synchronicity. It must be the zeitgeist. 😉

    Alfster, I do agree that the make-up does them no favours. What I was trying to say was that when they are that young it doesn’t really matter what they slap on – they are lovely enough to get away with it. Actually I think a lot of the problem is that they wear the wrong colours and apply them clumsily which makes it look as if they are wearing far more than they are.

    Courtney, it’s a strange privilege we have to see ourselves now as we were then. We may have been gorgeous – but oh my goodness our HAIR!

    Thanks all for reading and commenting


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