R.L. SAUNDERS

writer attempting real life in the middle of everybody else's vacation

The kids are all right

When I was a teenager, I woke up something like three hours before school so I could wash, dry, and hot-roll my enviable mane. Then, obviously, I’d touch up my hot-rolled curls with three different sizes of curling iron barrels. God I had great hair.

Then the makeup. Natural-looking makeup takes the longest, you know. Especially the thick black eyeliner above the top lashes and directly on the lower waterline.

Followed by the right outfit, which I’d spent a significant amount of time putting together the previous night. I mean, I was rushed enough in the morning, what with only having three hours for my hair and makeup.

So yeah, I looked fake awesome by the time my football star boyfriend rolled up in his convertible Cavalier. But I didn’t look or feel much like myself. Now I wish I could get back all that time I wasted trying to look impossibly beautiful like Carrie from Days of Our Lives. And I’m beyond grateful that time in my life is over. Except for the rad bedroom I had in my parents’ basement. I miss that every day.

I’ve long thought of horrendous vanity as something all young people must go through in order to grow beyond it. But now I’m not so convinced. We smacktalk today’s kids all the time, with their need for instant gratification and their gadgetry and whatnot. But I think they’re getting at least a few things right. For one, I think most of them are a lot more mature than I was in the vanity department.

And look, I know there will always be that douchey guy who takes ab selfies in the school bathroom between classes (and the girl who loves him). He went to high school with me, too, minus the iPhone and the social media outlets for his douchery. But in general, lately, I really am seeing more things I like about young people today.

Like, I’m seeing more young celebrities of average, healthy weights. I especially like celebrities who refuse to lose weight for a role if the character isn’t specifically written as a person afflicted with a sickly skinny disease. I also like seeing fat people in movies. Half of the people I know are fat. Fat people are real. I want my characters to feel realistic.

I’m also seeing more teeth that are the color of teeth and not burn-your-retinas-with-my-smile white.

And I’m seeing more hair that is not-blond. Breaking news: Most post-pubescent human beings look freakish with Marilyn Monroe hair. And if we’re being honest here, Marilyn Monroe looked freakish with Marilyn Monroe hair. Have you seen pictures of her before Hollywood ate her? She was perf.

I like seeing boobs on young women (hold on, I’m going somewhere with this) that appear to exist within the laws of physics. Yes, I think the age of the antigravity rack (both the ridiculous Wonderbra and surgical strains) is ending. I’m seeing tits that are proportional to ass. That’s how nature works you know. You rarely get big tits without a big ass. Young people grasp that, apparently. Or they’re rebelling against their mothers who got boob jobs and now their middle-aged jowls get stuck between their 20-something melons. Is that mean?

This might all be a grand rationalization for having stepped off the color train, myself. Or for the fact that I’ve been waiting for boobs since 6th grade. Still, I think there’s something beautifully dichotomous about today’s youth. These high tech hippie kids. This emerging geek culture where books are cool and gamers get laid. They’re just so much smarter than I was at their age. And I’m pretty sure that’s not something my parents said about my generation.

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As not to leave you hanging

For those of you who follow: I won the lottery. BRCA negative.

I feel twenty years of wonder and worry physically streaming from my body, out my eyes, mostly. I also feel intense guilt because the only other woman in my family who stood to inherit the mutation is now alone in this in a new way, right before the first of her surgeries.

To give you an idea of what sort of human being she is, she spent her childhood watching her mom fight to survive, over and over. Then, after losing her mom, aware of her own odds, she became a Hospice nurse to help other families through similar experiences. I can’t think of any way to describe her selflessness that doesn’t feel like an incredible understatement. So please just send positive vibes her way.

And thank you, medical science. Keep on it.

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