Hair Towels and Hip Teens (and Then There's Me)

7:30 AM

I used to think I grew up too fast.

Look at the facts: I quit computer games on my own sometime in the early teens, I replaced my steady diet of horse and pet series with à Kempis and Luther, and I felt awkward among kids my own age--what’d we have in common? And so I felt grown up, far above the elementary and faddish. I was proud of my nerdy accomplishments. Talk about denial.

Then, making faces in the mirror on the way to a CLEP exam (with those cool college kids), it hit me: What cool teenager exposes herself to roadside ridicule by scrunching her nose at her rearview reflection? What grown up lady goes about with no purse and no eye shadow? What mature woman hates coffee and shopping? How’d I get along in life without learning to do my hair or coordinate colors until sixteen?

Seriously, kids. I didn’t do nothin’ with my hair until last year. Pictures to prove it. And I dared call myself “woman”?

This year at camp, hanging out in The Girls’ Bathroom: A Social Place®, I realized I lacked the most basic female skill: putting one’s hair up in a towel wrap. As the big sister, I’m supposed to initiate these things, have the fashion mags memorized, take over the shoe shopping. My poor, poor sisters. For almost seventeen years, I’d never successfully put my hair up in a towel—nor have I the slightest clue how to apply mascara, curl hair or diet. Things were pretty bleak. And when I met all these towelled heads, I excitedly burst out, “How do you do it?”

Blank stares. Someone said something to the effect of “How do you breathe, girlfriend?”

So I’m not very grown up at all—no boyfriend(s), iPods or Facebook. Not very sophisticated—no French twists or nail polish on Tuesdays. Not very culturally literate—what’s a Kardashian?


In the eyes of the world, I’m still a little girl in most cases. Stunted. Unaware of my social potential. In my world, bad people can become good, the world can be changed and hugs should be given by the hundreds. Boil it all down to this: innocence.

The worst word I knew up until a couple years ago was “shut up.” And believe me, if you applied that word to me, I would go home and cry. Stupid was the lesser of two evils—well, didn’t your mother tell you not to say it too? I didn’t even know what bad words were, though the alphabet seemed to play a big role in defining them. When I stumbled across my first bad word in a how-to publishing manual (yes, I planned on being published by my fifteenth birthday), I wondered why on earth they kept repeating the same meaningless word over and over again. It was the dumbest literary move I’d ever seen. Oh, the innocence of fourteen-year-old children.

Some of it’s that unsocialized homeschooler syndrome—that geeky part, that Anglo-Saxon literature lovin’ part, that what on earth is a blind date part. But honestly, there were homeschoolers in that girls’ bathroom would did the make-up and the towel wraps, read the magazines, shopped the shoes. They knew.

So I think it’s just me, a totally random, innocent person who hasn’t the slightest idea how to function in a world of hipness.

I confess: I’m ignorant of everything essential to modern womanhood. But you know something? It doesn’t bother me. A bit. I’ve got the bare essentials: a brain, a love and a purpose. I know who I am—a girl who doesn’t operate according to fads and fashions (not to say I couldn’t benefit from a proper curling iron). I won’t ever be called cool. My sisters won’t call me at midnight to figure out what to wear to church the next day. I’d stick out badly in the Big Apple. I may not be as put-together as the average American girl.

Oh, I am definitely not as put together as the average American girl. My brain hasn’t been organized for years.

But I’m innocent. That’s freedom. Frankly, I wouldn’t trade that for the whole world.

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21 impressions

  1. I remember spending time with other homeschoolers who were a lot more worldly (maybe I should say world-wise) than me, and not understanding something they were vaguely hinting around about. At first it bothered me, but then I was like, do I really want to know? :)

    And for the record, I still think "shut up" is a rude, awful phrase. I don't think I've used it since I was about 13 or 14. Don't even get me started on profanity- it's my biggest pet peeve. You know something is wrong in the world when preschoolers not only know swear words, but know exactly how to use them in a sentence.


  2. Same here. I'm often "looked down" on because I don't know certain bad words, or don't have a boyfriend. But really, are bad words and boyfriends what you really need? I'd much rather have my bread making skills and knowing how to wash dishes than the latest fashion, or hair styles.

  3. Amen. My sentiments exactly.

    When talking to my brother on Skype the other day, he asked me if I was wearing makeup. (I guess it must have been the lighting.) When I answered in the negative, his reply was, "Okay, because that would have been weird."

    At almost 20, I do wonder sometimes if I ought to start wearing a little mascara just to be a kind of normal. Mainly I'm worried about the huge shock it will be to everyone when I finally do give in and figure out the whole makeup thing. On the other hand, it's probably already too late to avoid putting people through that shock, so why worry about it?

    Loved the post! We have nearly everything else you said in common too. Though, I've known how to do the towel wrap since I was so high.


  4. One thing I want to quick mention as I skimmed through my post again is that I don't mean to imply that it's more spiritual to be devoid of curling iron knowledge. Many more "worldly-wise" girls I know are beautiful's more just poking fun of my out-of-the-loopness. ;o)

  5. May I be completely honest? *leans forward* I don't know how to put my hair up in a towel wrap either. Nor did I know certain curse words that exist until a couple of years ago. I've been called 'sheltered' and received sympathetic looks from folks...but that's okay. Yeah, you ain't alone. :)

    And just FYI, you're pretty awesome at being Bailey and we love you just the way you are, curling irons or no. *hugs*

  6. Haha...Abigail taught me how to put my hair up in a towel (that was before you went to camp, you should've asked me for a tutorial. :)

    Sorry sister, I guess I'm the only one who can sympathize with your amazingly geekiness (it's a family trait, I think.) I still have trouble explaining to people why I don't particularly care if my shoes are cute or not (good grief, they're shoes (!). They're going to get dirty. They take up space - who cares if they match?)

    I (totally) [like] really think [sis] that we should [like] start our [like] new [like] cool blog [like] (seriously) [like] right [like] now. [JK] [girl].

  7. P.s. I'm ignorant when Dad or Chase says, "sorry, I didn't know that word was in there." And I think - Huh? What word? I didn't catch that.

    Thankfully, ignorance comes in handy with bad words. Although Spanish will be my downfall. I was reading a book were this Spanish guy kept on repeating something, which I sadly knew. *grumble*

  8. (in Spanish, I meant) The guy said it in Spanish...

    okay - - I'll leave you alone (I like plastering myself on your blog)

  9. (*coughs* See what I mean about geekiness? You should write a seperate post about your sarcastic sister) - - okay, I'm done with my ranting!

  10. This makes my smile SO much, Bailey. I didn't start doing anything with my hair until I was 14-15 years old (which, by world-standards, is way too old!). I've never browsed teen magazines... known all the popular phrases or words. Innocence is such a beautiful thing... and, honestly, I wish I had retained all of it even longer! As an "adult" now in the adult world, I'm grateful that I was protected and that swear words (you know, like "gosh", "heck", "shut up", etc...) still bother me. ;) Yes, they are "cuss words" in my family too.

    Thanks for sharing this!!! God bless, sister!


  11. Oh, I can identify. :) I know how to do the towel thing, but I hate balancing a huge weight on my head. I use a Turbie Twist.
    And, I still wear NO makeup. I'm starting to think I never will. What's the use, anyway? And it wasn't until my 16th birthday that I finally decided to start putting up my then-waist-length hair instead of ignoring it. And I have trouble being stylish.
    Allison is way cooler than me. ;)

    I, also, was taught never to say "shut up", and to use the word "stupid" very sparingly. I am thankful for my innocence. (Hopefully not proud of it.)

  12. I wish I didn't know the words I know, when I'm visiting my cousins and watching a movie with them, I'm constantly apologizing like Chase and your father, like Bethany said. It's still okay if I don't use them right?

    If only...

  13. I totally agree with Kristin about young kids using swear words and KNOWING how to use them in a sentence. Okay, NObody should use swear words. Bailey, until I started working about 8 months ago, there were swear words I hadn't ever heard of either. Sadly, I had heard a lot before that because of unsaved family-not immediate family, mind you. Years ago, shut up was a very bad word for us, too, but I hate to admit that it slips sometimes. I find myself saying more when somebody teasing me. Not a rude shut up, just kind of like a "get outta here" kinda shut up, you know. Is a teasing shut up still rude? Do you know what I mean? I guess that's debatable. (Is that spelled right? debateable. debatable..aargh)
    I guess in the world's eyes, not ever applying or knowing how to apply make-up is ingnorant. Mind you, I don't think there's anything wrong with make-up. I just think that anyone who thinks you're ignorant for not knowing how to use make-up is probably ignorant themselves-in the things that matter more.
    Bethany, if you ever start talking with the "like" before and after word you say, I'm going to...arrgh, never mind. That drives me nuts.
    Sorry, girls, I don't even remember when I learned to towel wrap my hair *sticks nose into the air*. Probably since I was two. No, seriously, that's how I dry my hair. Very rarely did I blow dry my hair until recently, when I got it seems to be more noticeable when you blow dry it. Just an FYI. My mom told me that. So, blow drying my hair is the most I've ever done...well, I have tried to curl it. That NEVER works. No matter how much hairspray I use, my hair straightens only a couple hours after...
    Diet? Gosh-er, goodness! To me, dieting is no sweets and only veggies and sweets.

  14. Loved your thoughts. You're not alone I didn't get my nails done for the first time until I was 19. :D

  15. I know it, I so know it. When I took the PSAT at the local high school I felt like I had on a WARNING: AWKWARD GEEK t-shirt.

    Doesn't bother me that much, though, thankfully. :)

  16. Bailey, if this is any consolation, I didn't know how to do most of those things either--and I went to public school! I think it's *because* I was the oldest girl sibling. I didn't have a big sister to show me the ropes.

    Come to think of it, I learned a few good things in that same camp bathroom. = )

  17. I really enjoyed this post. The thing I find most interesting is what specific things are apparently now considered hip or cool and what things are considered essential knowledge for a mature woman. I am an adult and the mother of a daughter and if she ever decides she wants to wear make-up she will have to learn how to do it from someone other than me, because I have no clue. On the other hand, I have to admit I was a little bit shocked and, ok horrified, when I learned my daughter is 11 years old and does not know how to put her wet hair in a towel wrap. I hope you don't mind if I tell her I now know at least one 17-year-old who also didn't know! :-)


  18. Great post, Bailey, yet again! I haven't a clue how to do a towel wrap. I'm sure I'd shock you if you heard what exactly I do most days with my hair after I wash it. *Don't tell anyone* I towel dry it just a bit; then I don't do anything. Just let it dry however crazily. Once it's mostly dry I'll brush it out. That's all.

    Keep writing, Bailey. I apprecaite these glimpses into your life & wisdom :)

  19. I can't
    A.) Curl hair
    B.) Put my hair up in a towel
    C.) Apply almost any kind of makeup (although I do know how to use mascara. I wear it when I leave the house)
    D.) I can't even BRAID my own hair!!! How terrible is that? When I need a braid I get my younger sister to do it for me. I am rather embarrassed for myself. =(
    (Just because I MUST defend myself, ;-) I have to say my hair is kind of short. That makes it harder.)

    I also don't have an ipod, Facebook, or any boyfriends. Seeing how much time I find myself spending on the internet already, I think that Facebook is the last thing I need. I think I would be totally addicted, so why even experiment with draining away my time in that particular manner?

    That said, I guess I'm kind of a girly-girl, or whatever you call someone who likes to dress up. I love shopping, wearing new outfits, and getting dressed up (to a certain extent). I wear pink half the time, think lace must have been invented in heaven, and I do like mascara. I'd probably be one of those girls in the camp bathroom that you just couldn't understand. Sorry about that!

    Funny post, by the way. =)

    I'm so sorry that I am JUST getting around to saying this, but I'm so happy for you! I was delighted to hear that you had been directed to Hillsdale College. Not delighted that you were going to college, per se, but rather happy for you that you had felt God's direction. That truly is a wonderful thing. It's SO NICE to have some guidance and know what you're supposed to do! So, congratulations! (Although I'm sad that it isn't close to where I live!!)

  20. Exactly!

    I am just like this: I don't have boyfriends -- just not interested in them. I wear simple clothing and my hair is in a ponytail all the time -- people ask me, why don't you ever "dress up'' your hair? ('Why? -- did Jesus tell me to?!' I think.) I don't even wear makeup. Get this right: every girl my age I see seems to wear makeup. It hurts to see this. But I know by just being me is right.
    xxx Acacia

    ...Your latest follower!

  21. I am with ya! Love this so much... I can get my hair into a towel, but it is too heavy to stay, so I don't. Makeup is sticky and greasy (my two archenemies) so they do not touch my face. Lip gloss is to eat, not to see. I am frightened by my newfound ability to color-coordinate, and understand when a certain shirt looks nice (no, truly, frightened). My hair stays down, as flat as a brush and two hands will make it, and heels do not hit my feet (unless I have time to play at Payless. It's like walking on stilts). Nail polish goes on once a year, and half comes off through biting, the rest takes a month to flake off. Girls my age with eye shadow are a little....well. Thus far, I haven't met one who knows the definition of "light application", and another non-fashion-savvy friend of mine told someone they looked like a raccoon. The term has sadly stuck with me.
    There is nothing wrong on this earth with waiting a little while, if you are not comfortable with things. My mom despaired of making me look feminine, because I loved horses, proudly labeled myself a tomboy, and denounced lace and ruffles (still do the last). Things got worse when I learned to climb trees and catch frogs, but there are phases that each girl goes through. As long as things do not go to unhealthy extremes, (such as excessive makeup, or lack of hygiene) comfort zones are not necessarily bad. It's just your face, just your clothes. You are a girl, made by God Almighty. That is all that matters.


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