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A bunch of fresh teenagers were having a discussion when I saw them. Dressed swag, some of the girls had their hair high up in a bun while some had the coloured layers open. Their earrings floated on their shoulders. The giggles were sharp and noisy and phones flashed every now and then. I kept a low-eye watch on them as one of the girls was like my own. In a little while I noticed her leave the group and find a quiet corner for herself. Her eyes was glued to her phone the instant she separated from the group. Sensing she needed some time, I let her take it. Slowly I made my way to the bench she was sitting on. As soon as she spotted me, she had a big smile across her face. Being my friend’s daughter she had access to my home and heart like it were her own. She had turned 14 in summer. “How come you are not in that group?”, I asked her pointing to where she was standing some time ago. She had no clue I was watching. “Ah that! They were having a discussion on the television series F.R.I.E.N.D.S and I am not following it. They thought I was weird that I was not into it.” I looked at them again. Were they old enough to watch it in the first place? They were all around 14-15 age group. Even if they were licensed to watch it, did it give them any right to call my friend’s daughter weird just because she didn’t follow it? I kept her company that day until she found herself back again but it got me thinking, how many kids are there around the world who are thought of in similar ways only because they are not following the cool trends?
On another day I saw a cousin’s daughter, a young adult wearing really short clothes that she wasn’t comfortable in. I generally watch the children because I have them too. My motherly instinct works automatically (sometimes annoying to have me around ;)). She kept pulling her dress probably imagining they will hide her upper thighs. I had seen her in short clothes before and it wasn’t like she was uncomfortable wearing it. I wondered what was it this time around that she was so conscious about. Then I saw the group she was in. All skinny girls. She was the only girl who looked like she ate food. I couldn’t talk to her as openly considering how the new adults shy from such sensitive topics with aunts and relatives. This thought was further sought when I reached home. How many youngsters are out there who dress as per someone else’s need?
Is peer pressure something the teenagers and young adults are equipped to handle? How can we talk to them? How can we tell them that physical appearance is not everything?
Peer pressure is not gender specific. It happens to both boys and girls.
They need to know that it’s alright to be short, tall, thin, fat, fair, dark, rich, poor.
It’s normal for some to have thick shiny hair while most don’t. It’s okay to not be following the latest trends in fashion, relationships and television series. I remember I grew up wearing ill fitting jeans and baggy T-shirts. It didn’t hamper my confidence in any way. Sometimes I still do wear clothes like that. (Although I don’t upload pictures of such days on social media!!)
It is not uncool to not be in a relationship.
What matters is the person that they are. The person that they will be in a few years. If they have empathy and compassion instilled, that is all it takes to make a beautiful journey. Superficial beauty and talks fade. Beautiful memories stay.
Make the early years of adulthood pleasantly memorable. Learn to say NO to smoke, alcohol and sex before you know how to handle it. (Permit age 21 and I would like it to be higher as my kids grow up!!)
Shed all the inhibitions related to physical world. Be a happy person.
About the Author : Raksha Pai is an author, blogger, thinker, co-founder of Medisense Healthcare.
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