From birth control to body hair, our Love Letters panel of diverse women (now in their 20’s and 30’s) share their personal experiences from high school and beyond- and the advice they wish they had received growing up. Catch up on the ‘best of’ highlights below, and click the links to view more perspectives on each topic.
On Feminism: “What does feminism mean to me now? I don’t have the tidy philosophy that I did in high school or college. But, in practice, it means making choices – sometimes hard choices, like staying at work – to keep myself economically empowered. It means not setting myself up to be screwed if something happened to us or to him. It means protecting myself against pressure to stay with him for economic reasons.” –Miss Rosebud [read more]
On Parents: “If I was required to drink a glass of milk at dinner, I wanted to know why, and if it was so healthy, why they weren’t drinking one, too. And it was my body, why did they get to dictate what went into it… I needed a logical answer to every question, and I was also keenly aware of what I felt to be “injustice.” That they had complete authority, which seemed like a grave injustice to me, and I was constantly fighting them. The more I argued for autonomy, the more my parents tried to control me, and the more I rebelled from their control.” –Miss Peony [read more]
On Dangerous Relationships: “I was seemingly in control of every aspect of my life except this one, and I didn’t want anyone to know because a.) I loved this person and thought I could help him learn how to love and trust someone, since he had been abused as a child, and b.) I was embarrassed: I was a confident, smart, funny, no-nonsense feminist. This went against everything I believed in and the life I had built for myself.” –Miss Bluebells [read more]
On Body Image: “I took a fine arts class and learned about perspective. I learned that the closer you are to a thing, the bigger it looks. Period. This made logical sense. Your body looks huge because you are close to it. Physically, emotionally, and psychologically. You are physically incapable of seeing yourself the way you exist – you are too close to it. Letting go of this allowed me to really dive into a commitment to listen to what’s going on inside.” –Miss Callalily [read more]
On Partying: “The reality is you have your whole life ahead of you to drink, so there’s no real reason to get the ball rolling so early in the effort to be cool. However, I’m not here to be a total square, so I will say this: if/when you decide to drink be sure to do so in spaces that are safe and that you have some buddies who can keep track of you. Learning to drink is a terrible game of trial and error.” –Miss Lilac [read more]
On Becoming An Adult: “I had a plan and I was determined to follow it, but life (as it so often does) throws curve balls. I am so far from that plan, it’s almost laughable. I think for the most part I am making peace with that. Ten years out I have suffered the losses of childhood friends through death and distance, and I have had amazing successes. I do struggle with what I thought my life would be and what it is.” –Miss Hydrangea [read more]
On Popularity: “My advice about popularity is that it seems so important in high school, but then you graduate, and none of the popular kids are the ones whose lives you want later on in life. At least coming from a public school, it seemed that the popular kids didn’t seem to be the ones to go on to good colleges, have great careers and live in exciting cities. Frankly, the “nerdy” ones seem better off now that we’re in our 30s.” –Miss Rosebud [read more]
On Freshman Year of College: “While all of my friends managed to get their sh*t together in time for class the next day, I was not able to. I hardly ever went to class and rarely studied; I expected my natural intelligence to carry me through the midterms and finals, but it just wasn’t enough. About halfway through the year, my midterm grades started coming in and they were all terrible. The thought of dealing with the mess of my life was terrifying, and so I kept drinking…” –Miss Peony [read more]
On Hooking Up- And Sexual Assault: “It is totally ok to be sexual as a young person, but be protective of your desires and know what you’re comfortable with. Nothing and no one is worth feeling ashamed the next morning. “Maybe” means no, and “no” means no, period. A full on ‘Yes’ is the only consensual way to agree to sex, and even in the middle of it all, you can always stop. I bet Beyonce would feel the same.” –Miss Magnolia [read more]
On Dating: “Looking back I recognize that I learned from every relationship, so I know that they were important. The most important lessons that I’ve learned have been: Never tolerate a boyfriend who comes between you and your family, or one that makes you feel uncomfortable talking about the things you are thinking about, or one for whom you must make excuses to your friends for. People can be interesting and still be nice.” –Miss Callalily [read more]
On Body Changes: “As a teenager, I felt really awkward about my body. When I entered high school I resembled a dodge ball with toothpicks sticking out of it, but then sprouted 4 inches and dropped 20 lbs by the end of sophomore year. This was not for any real effort, just how things went. However, that early phase awkwardness defined how I felt about my body from there on out.” –Miss Lilac [read more]
On Birth Control: “I was always a big fan of Yasmine birth control pills, probably because the name invoked the image of a sexy gypsy woman riding on a magic carpet (which I most certainly was not.) I was hugely displeased whenever I received the generic name-band of the same thing, with a grey faux-suede case instead of the sultry lavender pouch. Taking the pill was easy enough for me to remember when I had a solid routine going, but not so great if I did anything out of the ordinary…” –Miss Bluebells [read more]
What topics would you like our Love Letters panel to weigh in on? What advice would you offer? Share your thoughts in the comments below.