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Wearing Pencil Skirts, Grinding, And Other Things We Had Zero Business Doing As Literal Children

If I was in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I would use their mind-erasing machine to literally scrape the entirety of my childhood. I can’t help but develop a severe case of cringe whenever my mind wanders back to all of the shit I was doing. I thought I was so grown up at 14, but I was a literal child. So WTF was I up to, buying thongs and stealing liquor from my parents?! Someone should have put a leash on me and stopped me from doing these 11 things.

1. Shopping at Victoria’s Secret

Women shopping in Victoria's Secret Pink at the Coastland Center Shopping Mall. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Image Credit: Getty Images

If I close my eyes, I can still smell the overpowering floral scents and minty chewing gum of the very bored sales assistants. I can imagine the feeling of lace under my fingertips, and remember the elaborate lingerie that I wouldn’t have had a clue how to put on.

For some reason, we all started shopping at Victoria’s Secret when we were still literal children. I feel like we were all simultaneously brainwashed by those angel wings. We were strolling around the tiniest bejeweled thongs, pretending we deserved to be there. 

I say shopping, but most of the time we weren’t buying anything, as we could barely afford their overpriced scraps of fabric.

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Instead, for Christmas we would BEG our parents to buy us one of their noxious body sprays. I remember getting “Pure Seduction” one year and telling all my friends that this was my scent. My scent? Pure seduction? If you see photos of me at 13, you’ll agree that there was nothing seductive about that side fringe and chunky waist belt. 

2. Wearing a Smokey Eye

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I could say a lot about the makeup trends of our youth, such as the vat of Dream Matte Mousse we were slathering onto our skin and the frosted eye shadow that took all of the life out of our eyelids. But today, I want to focus on the lasting damage of a smokey eye.

I’m aware that smokey eyes can look super glamorous and cool, but I don’t think people under the age of 18 should be attempting them. We had no concept of blending or angling our brushes, and we were working with the cheapest makeup we could get our little grubby hands on.

I am so scarred from this time that I still can’t wear a smokey eye. I’ll be stuck with boring neutral looks until the day I die. The only thing smokey about my eyes are the atrocious eye bags I’ve had since I learned about taxes.

3. Grinding at School Dances

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For this one, I blame all the music videos we were watching. We were in a sweaty gym hall thinking we were Beyoncé. Girlies, we were not Beyoncé. 

In movies, I always laughed when the chaperone teacher insisted that kids should have six inches between them or “leave room for Jesus.” But you know what? We SHOULD leave some room in there for Jesus or whoever. We should not be grinding like that when we barely even knew how to make out with tongues. 

We were in a place of learning! We were surrounded by teachers! We were not even that interested in our grinding partner! Why were we acting like horny extras on Jersey Shore?

I say grinding, but it bordered on dry humping at times, and I literally feel my body convulsing at the mere thought of it.

4. Reading Articles About Sex

pen15 kissing scene
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I have been an avid Cosmopolitan reader since I was little, courtesy of my two older sisters and mother. Every holiday had me stealing my sister’s tattered copies of two-year-old magazines. It didn’t matter that the celebrity news was out of date, as I was fascinated by the sex articles. 

I was learning how to give banging head before I’d even made out with tongues. I was reading about the best sex positions on washing machines (still to be tested) before I had actual wire in my bras. Why was I so drawn to these articles? And why did I act like I was so knowledgeable on things I knew nothing about?

Even worse is that I would belittle people who hadn’t read these highly detailed articles. If you’re reading this, Emily, I’d like to formally apologize for mocking you for not knowing the 10 Tricks to Make Him Scream Your Name. I didn’t know what half of the words they said meant either.

5. Dressing Like We Were Going to the Office

PEN15 -- “Runaway” - Episode 214 -- Anna is given the opportunity of a lifetime but when her parents won’t let her partake, Maya encourages them to take fate into their own hands and embark on a dangerous journey. Maya (Maya Erskine), and Anna (Anna Konkle), shown. (Photo by: Jessica Brooks/Hulu)
Image Credit: Hulu

Literally, we were turning up at parties or school as if we had to stop by the office on the way home. Why were we wearing pencil skirts and blazers like we wanted to circle back to that one issue? 

We were barely teens dressing like we were 45 years old. All I’d read about were “day-to-night” looks and how to transform one blazer into a dozen outfits. I am 26 years old, and I have not found any use for this wealth of knowledge on “day-to-night” outfits. I dress younger now than I did as an actual teenager. This is just one of the many horrible trends of the 2000s

6. Treating Social Media Like Our Personal Diary

PEN15 -- “Runaway” - Episode 214 -- Anna is given the opportunity of a lifetime but when her parents won’t let her partake, Maya encourages them to take fate into their own hands and embark on a dangerous journey. Maya (Maya Erskine), shown. (Photo by: Courtesy of Hulu)
Image Credit: Hulu

If Back to the Future was a real thing, I would NOT go back and low-key seduce my mom (PROBLEMATIC STORYLINE MUCH?), I would go back and rip the keyboard from my hands and deactivate all of my social media accounts.

I live in constant terror of someone finding all of my posts. My version of a Saw torture room is being tied up (kinky though) and watching all of my status updates projected onto the wall. 

Had so much fun wid Melanie!!! Lolz BLUE EYEBROWS iykyk

Who do you think you are? Runnin round leaving scars…. No, I don’t want to tlk about it xxx

In a relationship with John Doe….. No longer in a relationship with John Doe.

Why were we posting every single detail about our damn lives?! I used to have conversations with friends on their Facebook walls. I don’t know why we thought ANYONE CARED. And when we’d clearly be digging for attention and then refuse to give any information. Also we just casually shared our location at all times. Thank god I was too annoying to ever be kidnapped.

If I think too much about it, I honestly won’t sleep peacefully ever again.

We should have been banned. Or social media accounts should be set to be wiped the moment you turn 18. 

7. Shaving Everything For a Concert

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I can’t believe I’m admitting this online, but it’s only because I’m pretty sure I was not the only one.

Can someone please explain why every time I went to a concert, I was certain that I’d be invited backstage to meet them?

I used to shave every inch of myself, lather myself in body lotion, and wear my matching Victoria’s Secret training bra and thong just in case. 

Just in case this famous artist spotted me in the crowd of thousands and thought damn, she is stunning, I must have her. I’d look almost uninterested, not like those screaming fangirls, so they knew I was NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS.

Why did we think that Justin Bieber was going to fall desperately in love with us? Why did we think Harry Styles and the rest of One Direction were about to fight over us?

I shouldn’t have been allowed near a razor for much, much longer, and I’m just grateful my big sister caught me trying to use hers so she could teach me what to actually do.

8. Absolutely Everything We Did on AIM


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It’s not quite as bad as how we acted on social media, as at least AIM has been basically wiped from existence, but it always gives me a good helping of cringe. Where do I even start with AIM?

Maybe with how we used to update our statuses methodically. We’d include the names of our best friends, and whenever someone was removed from the list, you knew there was huge tea waiting to be spilled. We’d also put dramatic song lyrics to subtly/not subtly hint to whatever was going on in our lives. We’d put every tiny detail of our lives. I remember that when my hamster died I put “RIP Napoleon!!!” and all my friends immediately messaged me to see if this was true.

Maybe I should talk about how we used to form literal relationships over AIM, sometimes with people we had never even met. Just a friend of a friend of a friend. We’d get email addresses from friends like they were drugs to be smuggled. It was ripe for catfishing, and I have no doubt that at least half of my AIM boyfriends were not who they said they were. We’d put their name in our profiles with hearts and remove it just as promptly.

Maybe I should talk about the ridiculous lingo of AIM. You think Gen Z are difficult when they spout things like “rizz” and “delulu.” Well, how about TTYL (Talk To You Later), LYLAS (Love You Like a Sister), ROTFLMAO (Rolling On The Floor Laughing My Ass Off)? I could barely keep up with the slang as I was living it in real time.

The only thing I do really miss are nudges. I often wish I could nudge people on Whatsapp. Like my ADHD sister who will promptly disappear from messages as quickly as she came with a question.

9. Being Allowed to Make Our Own Email Addresses


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Let’s put the glaring issue of internet safety to the side for a moment, and look at the other side effects of our internet-savvy generation. Like the fact that we were making our own email addresses.

Once you have an email address, it can be hard to get out of it. Every account you have is synced to that email address, like your Facebook and Instagram profiles. Every subscription is on that account. Grandma sends annual photos to that account. You can’t just up and leave it.

Which would be fine, except for the fact that we often made these accounts as literal children.

So forever more, I have the email address [email protected]. But I consider myself lucky, as I’ve heard way worse ones, like:

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

They either have to abandon everything they know or give that email address out with a straight face. Pray for them and whatever jobs they’re applying to.

10. Editing Our Photos Like That

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Whoever invented Picnik should be sued. They gave us too much power. Until then, editing photos was something so far out of reach. But suddenly, we had so much control at our fingertips. And we did not treat that great power with responsibility.

Instead, we started putting everything in black and white or sepia. We started creating impossibly tiny waists (no literally, they weren’t possible with the laws of physics). We started adding blocks of highlights to our hair. I used to add an orange fake tan and think no one would notice. My eyes suddenly became shockingly blue like I was a White Walker on Game of Thrones.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we would ADD QUOTES ON TOP OF THE PHOTOS. We weren’t satisfied with just putting a sad song quote as the caption, no, it has to be splayed on top of it for the entire world to see.

And while we’re on the subject, who did we think we were relating to “Bleeding Love” or “Skinny Love”? WE HAD NO IDEA WHAT PAIN WAS YET. 

11. Boozing for a Cruising

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Obviously, we never had a drink before the legal drinking age as that would be irresponsible behavior that I could NEVER condone in an article.

But let’s say that hypothetically we were drinking before we should’ve… And hypothetically, we were drinking neon-colored drinks that were more sugar than alcohol. Looking back, I’m not sure I was even drunk half the time, maybe I just had a wicked sugar rush from all those Breezers.

Also, why did we think we were so slick for sneaking alcohol from our parents and refilling the bottles with water? I literally refilled a vodka bottle with water and then put it back in the freezer. Safe to say that my parents quickly realized that not only was I a thief, but I was also very dumb. I don’t know which realization disappointed them more.

I was too drunk at too young an age (still hypothetically, of course). I had no business taking vodka shots before I even knew how the stock market worked. Not that I know that now either. Maybe I should just never take shots.

Fleurine Tideman
Fleurine Tideman
Fleurine Tideman, a European-based copywriter. She’s interesting (cause she’s from Europe), speaks multiple languages (again, she's from Europe), and is mentally unhinged (despite socialized healthcare). You can find her European musings on Twitter @ByFleurine and her blog, Symptoms of Living, both of which are written to the sounds of unhinged Taylor Swift playlists.