You Asked It

Just Wondering

We unqualifiedly (but very sincerely) answer questions from you.

Since my best friend started dating this boy, she’s virtually pushed me aside. I figured it would be a temporary thing while she learned to balance everything out with having her first boyfriend, but that has not been the case—they’ve been dating almost a year now. How can I ask her to pay more attention to me without asking her to choose between me and her boyfriend, and without seeming selfish and needy?

When I was in middle school, my best friend and I were obsessed with the Ouija board (stick with me here, I promise this has something to do with your question). The thing was, though, I was controlling the planchette the whole time. How did I know? Because every time we asked a question, the answer would always be exactly the answer I had in my head. Like if I asked, “How many boyfriends will I have?” the Ouija board would respond with the number “458.” I was always more boy-crazy than my friend and was usually the one who asked boy-related questions. She asked questions like “What kind of superhero will I become?” and I asked questions like “When will I have my 1000th kiss?” Once she asked the Ouija Board if she would ever get married, and I shamefully admit that the thought of my best friend marrying someone and being that person’s best friend instead of my best friend scared me, so I forced the Ouija board to say “no.”

In college, whenever my friends started dating someone new, I was mostly happy and excited for them, but there was always a little part of me that felt really sad, like I had lost something. And in a way, we do lose a little something when our friends start up serious relationships. Sometimes it’s just the little things, like a friend who used to text you 50 times a day might text you just 10 or 12 times a day. Or maybe your friend who used to be free every weekend to hang out is suddenly free only every other weekend or every other other weekend, and even then, when you finally hang out, it might not be just the two of you anymore. The thing that bummed me out the most was the thought that once my friends were in serious relationships, I would probably no longer be the last person they spoke to or thought about before bed, because that privilege would probably now go to their new significant other, and that felt so sad.

The point is: you’re not selfish or needy for wanting to spend time with someone you love and care about. It’s normal to feel that way. In fact, it would be weird if you weren’t at all upset about your best friend’s spending most of her time with her boyfriend and not making time for you.

I’m someone who generally feels awful when I try to I bottle things in, especially when they’re important things. And wishing I could spend some time alone with my best friend definitely ranks as A Very Important Thing. If I were you, I would probably just try to have a conversation with her, and tell her sweetly, but honestly, how I feel. It can be scary being vulnerable and laying everything out there in the open, but every single time I’ve done it with someone, I’m always glad afterward.

I would tell her how happy you are that she’s found a great boyfriend and that you know she’s really busy juggling everything she’s got going on, but that you just really miss her. And you especially miss hanging out one on one with her.

I’m going to say something so corny that it’ll make you want to throw tomatoes at me, but you should just tell her what’s in your heart. If she’s a good, true friend, she won’t mock you or judge you or think badly of you if you tell her how much her friendship means to you.

Chances are, your friend has probably been so wrapped up with her boyfriend, that she probably doesn’t even realize you’ve been feeling this way for almost a year now. And chances are, if she’s a good friend, she’ll be so glad you told her. I know I would. —Jenny

Why is being skinny so important to so many girls? Why is it portrayed as such an amazing thing in the media? —Ava, Minnesota

Hi Ava! There are several answers to the “skinny” question. And all of them are, in my opinion, pretty ominous.

The first answer is this: If people can get you to worry about how skinny you are, they have already taken away a substantial chunk of your time and energy. Seriously. Look at how many “solutions” there are to the problem of girls not being “skinny enough.” Are you doing yoga? Are you running? Are you swimming? Have you gone vegetarian yet? Have you gone vegan yet? Have you tried eating only meat? Are you using diet pills? Are you drinking diet shakes? Are you wearing slimming clothing? Have you tried fasting? Have you tried surgery? Have you tried spinning around counterclockwise while saying “I want to be skinny” backwards 300 times? You’re not trying hard enough! Try harder! Be more skinny!

Oh my god, it is TOO MUCH WORK. Exercise is nice, and you should definitely do that, and healthy food is really super, too. But I also like to, you know, read books, and go to movies, and learn things. And all of that is stuff I would not have time to do if I worried full time about being skinny.

But this relates to another unpleasant fact, which is: if people can get you to worry about being skinny, they can get you to buy things. They can get you to buy books about how to be skinny, and magazines about how to be skinny, and clothes, and exercise equipment, and gym memberships, and all the rest of it. “You should be skinnier” is the core premise of an entire industry. Not a small industry. So if you are really focused on being skinny, you are ideally funding someone’s summer house in Florida, and he is going to go run over a manatee with a jet ski or whatever, and do you know how grateful he is to you, for buying his jet ski with your subscription to his brand-new diet plan that will finally get you skinny? Not a lot! That dude runs over manatees! He’s a jerk!

Which relates to part three: if you worry about being skinny all the time, and buy all the things, you are never actually going to achieve magical “skinny enough” status. If you take this to an unhealthy level, you can get really physically sick and die. So you can be both “not skinny enough” and “too skinny,” literally. But no matter how much weight you lose, you are always going to turn on the TV or open a magazine and hear the message “Be more skinny!” Even if you work on being thin like it’s your full-time job, no one ever shows up at your house with a trophy, like, “Congratulations! You did it! You can stop worrying and feel good about how you look, because you are now skinny!” So it never ends. You keep buying things, and you keep worrying and wasting energy you could be using on becoming a Supreme Court Justice, and it lasts for the rest of your life, except that after a certain point people also start selling you fancy moisturizers because it turns out you are now “aging.”

I think “skinny” is portrayed as an amazing thing in the media, and something girls should aspire to, in part because it is very rare. The people who are best at “skinny” are people who have a genetic predisposition to it, and who are also models or actors that literally work on their appearance as if it is their job. Which it is. (And, even they get Photoshopped to death. Nobody’s a winner here.) That means a ton of the women we see as “sexy” or “fashionable” are living a lifestyle that we will never live, and have genetic gifts that most of us don’t have. And we see them, and we see that everybody knows who they are, and that people are constantly sending all this love their way, and they’re rich and go to fancy parties and hang out with our favorite movie stars and have cool jobs, and we think, wow. How much more people would love us, how much happier we would be, if we were skinny! It’s not about being “attractive.” (People typically find different things attractive. Those whose personal definitions of “attractive” exactly fit the most popular definitions are people who completely lack imagination, or who see girls as “trophies” rather than as people. People like this are, universally, bad dates.) It’s about the idea that looking a certain way guarantees happiness and security. It doesn’t. Look at Lindsay Lohan. But this idea—that all of the richest, happiest, most loved people are very skinny—puts us in a position where we become poorer, less happy, and less likely to love ourselves. And guess who benefits from that? Two teams: the one that wants girls not to reach their fullest potential, and the one that makes money off of girls buying things. Girls think it’s important to be skinny because rich adults profit from girls’ thinking it’s important to be skinny. And that is how it is. That is not, however, how it has to be. Save a manatee; eat a burrito. Is my lesson for you today. —Sady

How do you get over body issues if it seems everyone is constantly sizing you up and criticizing you? Like, how do you define your body as your own?

You really…kind of just do. I think at some point you just say to yourself, “This is my body and the only thing that matters is how I feel about it, so screw everyone else!” All my life I have been a li’l chub. The worst experience was when I was in elementary school, because kids LOVE to say mean things to you.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I became comfortable with my body, but I think it was when I started dancing. I took a dance class in the fifth or sixth grade. Later, in high school, I was the leader of our dance team and on drill team, where I had to wear short skirts and do high kicks on the football field. I also performed a lot during college. Having to constantly be aware of moving my body and using it as a tool to express myself made me become best friends with it. Nobody could move it (shake it!) like me. It was mine.

Although I stopped dancing (my life’s regret!) I think that comfortableness with my bod stayed with me. I started going to the gym, doing yoga, and doing Zumba this year, and it’s made me become best friends with my body again in a different way. I want to be healthier and I want my body to be stronger than ever before. But everything I do in my life and how I feel about myself is for me and not for anyone else. You just have to ask yourself, whose life are you living, anyway? —Marie

Does growing up ever get easier? I’m 15 and I’m so terrified of every aspect about growing up: going to college, getting a job, living on my own, having kids, and it goes on and on. Do you ever feel comfortable with it, or even excited about it?

Yes, it does get easier. And no, it doesn’t. The wonderful thing about getting older is that it happens incrementally. By the time you’re a senior in high school, the idea of going to college will still be a little bit scary, but you will also be ready to do it. And then you will move into a college dorm and be surrounded by so many exciting new people that you will forget within a week that you were ever afraid. Everything else is light years away—think about a newborn child, who goes from not being able to hold up its own head at birth to talking and walking by two, going to school by four. Those are big, big years. You too are having big, big years right now. I met my husband when I was 22, and told him I was going to break up with him in six months. Instead, six years later, we got married. Things change over time, and those things include your fears and your dreams. The key is to tackle one thing at a time, the next thing on the horizon, whether it’s taking the SATs or deciding what to do this summer. The other things will happen when they need to, down the line, so don’t worry about them now. You may not end up doing all of them, so why freak out about having these kids who might never exist, you know? When you do begin to feel scared, which you will, know that it’s OK, and totally normal, and an important part of the whole enterprise. After all, if you never get scared, it means you’re never doing anything new, which doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

Love, Emma S.

If you have a question for a future edition of Just Wondering, please send it to youaskedit@rookiemag.com.

21 Comments

  • Marguerite October 25th, 2011 7:46 PM

    have you tried spinning around counterclockwise while saying “I want to be skinny” backwards 300 times? I laughed so hard when i read that- but people do so much just to be skinny – i had 2 friends go through an anarexic stage this summer – it was hard…

    • back2thepast October 25th, 2011 10:42 PM

      Agreed, it is hard. I have some hardcore-dancer-friends, and some of them are on and off and others are just on the edge of the cliff, and there usually isn’t anything you can say to them. It’s hard

  • LoversSaintsSailors October 25th, 2011 8:00 PM

    Good timing.

    I woke up this morning and thought, “man, you’re a little pudgy around the middle there”

    Actually, that’s nice version, what I really thought was “I’m fat” – which I know I’m actually not and who cares if I was anyway?

    I literally woke up, looked in the mirror, while I was still in bed, and thought that.

    What a horrible way to wake up! How mean!

    Immediately afterwards I thought, “Why does it matter? And who says what’s the right or wrong size anyway?”

    And guys? I’m 29. This article is the kind I’ll never tire of reading. Thanks.

  • saranev October 25th, 2011 8:11 PM

    Is there a way to make EVERY GIRL read this? So important!

  • Sphinx October 25th, 2011 8:38 PM

    Everytime I see how some people are so worried about being skinny, I realize how lucky I am. I’m not super thin, I guess I’m just normal, but I never had issues with my weight or body in general…
    But I have many friends who DO have issues, and I have no idea how to help them. It’s sad, because they are all so pretty but don’t realize it. And I don’t know what to say, I can’t really relate with what they’re going through.
    Just saying “Oh, you’re beautiful, you shouldn’t worry about that” doesn’t magically solve the problem,dealing with self image issues is more complicated than that.
    Does anyone have any advice on how to help friends in this situation?

  • sobrina October 25th, 2011 9:17 PM

    I’ve been on the other end of the first question– I was the best friend so wrapped up in her boyfriend, I completely forgot that I had friend relationships too. And that was kind of dumb. But when my BFF told me she missed me, and wanted to spend time with me, I didn’t think she was selfish or needy at all! I realized that I missed her too. I had never stopped loving her or anything, I was just, I don’t know, distracted?

    So our solution was to make a weekly BFF-date. Sometimes we’d hang out as a threesome, with the Boy, but once a week it was girl date time, and we did all the craft projects and silly photoshoots and teen movies that we could only do with the two of us. It really helped our friendship to set up a special time that was for ONLY us, no boys allowed.

  • Pashupati October 25th, 2011 9:47 PM

    ” Those whose personal definitions of “attractive” exactly fit the most popular definitions are people who completely lack imagination, or who see girls as “trophies” rather than as people. People like this are, universally, bad dates.”
    That little bunch of sentences slapped me in the face while reading the otherwise great article.
    I’m sorry about my personal definition of attractiveness fitting the thing. It indeed happens to be influenced by society, just as what I find interesting, but yeah, there’s still a part of my own in this. (then there is the environment-society-nurture/nature-person question)
    Now I understand you mean exactly as in totally, but it would still be offending to stereotype people depending on what is attractive to them if what is attractive to them fit exactly-totally society’s mainstream definition of attractiveness, and at first the wording may come across as “almost exactly” or “similar” to readers, thinking that you (the author) as an exterior person would describe it as “exactly” the same because it’s way closer to what is described as attractive by society than your definition of attractiveness.
    Also, your personal definition of what is attractive doesn’t mean you can’t be attracted to someone different, or that you’d say things that would lower their self-esteem, or that you’d force them to change.
    What I mean is: what makes you physically attracted to someone doesn’t mean anything else than the fact you are attracted to some physical qualities.
    (I hope I’m clear in my words myself but if I’m not my excuse is I’m too lazy to sleep!)

  • Laia October 25th, 2011 9:50 PM

    save a manatee! eat a burrito! YES!

  • diny October 25th, 2011 10:20 PM

    everybody think that i am so skinny. super super skinny. but i think, i have big legs (fatty legs?). yeah, i always think that way. but, i didn’t diet. i eat so much (yeah people, you should know that skinny girls eat so much because our metabolism is fast). then i think, it doesn’t matter how i look like. who cares? i have so much things to do. uni is crazy here. papers, test, exams.

    by the way, i think everybody always think that there is something wrong at their body. do you remember Mean Girls scene, when Gretchen (also Regina!) do not like some parts of their body. so, just don’t think about it a lot. you should take care of your body, also love it! love yourself, your body, eat healthy.

    i always say to myself that i am not perfect. so, i ca forgive myself easily and love myself more! love your self, everyone. if it is not you, who else?

    • Tavi October 25th, 2011 10:25 PM

      1283128th reason why Mean Girls is so great: once in middle school a bunch of girls (myself included) started crowding around the locker room mirror to critique themselves, and finally one girl was like, “oh god, this is like that scene in Mean Girls, I don’t wanna be like that.” So we all stopped. Thank you Tina Fey.

  • back2thepast October 25th, 2011 10:49 PM

    Much more encouraging than the Seventeen articles: love yourself! Looks don’t matter! Pff, I’m a teenage girl, I don’t LUUURRRRVVEE myself all the time. Plus those trashy (yet ridiculously addicting) magazines don’t acquire the Rookie humor :] haahahahah manatees.

  • soybrain October 26th, 2011 9:01 AM

    my friends always tease me for being so skinny, they’re looking at me like I’m going to die or something and hold my wrists and say “omg you must have anorexia or something”, it’s really not fun,though I’m ok with being thin. people think it’s like super important to become skinny, and yeah I understand why, but I think every size is great as long as you’re healthy.

    • soybrain October 26th, 2011 9:04 AM

      (I don’t really know why I’m so skinny ’cause I eat like a horse, more crap than my friends. I’m vegetarian though, but I don’t see how that would cause my weight.)

  • Rhibarb October 26th, 2011 10:53 AM

    I loved the anwser about being skinny :)

  • Naomi October 26th, 2011 1:06 PM

    i so agree with the dancing thing. it makes you aware of every part of your body and you learn to control and move it and it just great generally for less awkwardness and expression and body acceptance etc.
    i love dancing.

  • Maddy October 26th, 2011 1:51 PM

    These were good! The “skinny people have good genes” answer is always worse for me because my sister is way way underweight/stick thin and has always been like that, so I guess I got the worse genes.

    • Anaheed October 27th, 2011 4:03 AM

      Not worse, just different. I know that sounds like a platitude, but the thinking that “skinny” = “good” is so much of the problem, you know what I mean?

  • stellar October 26th, 2011 5:24 PM

    great concept about “one thing at a time”. so true!!

  • connie October 27th, 2011 12:30 AM

    i dunno, i do find this site has a tendency to post a lot of photos and illustrations and videos of a certain kind of long legged, slim, flowy-haired, idgaf girl. and i guess that cant be helped and thats not a conscious decision its just what most of the contributors look like and who inspires them and that seems to be the body type that rules this tumblr-fashion-blog-animated.gif-candyfloss haired-bruised kneeed-pink cheeked-faded photo-flowery subculture world and i guess its not a bad thing its just not quite my thing or quite my body type and thats too bad.

    • chloelrd October 27th, 2011 6:35 AM

      so true! I understand that rookie is doing so many great things, but seeing pictures of all those skinny, beautiful models with perfect hair and features isn’t very helpful! JEEZ SOCIETY!!!!!!!!

  • chloelrd October 27th, 2011 6:32 AM

    this was a great read! Thank you so much! Everything here relates to me or a good friend. I am in my last year of high school in New Zealand, we all have one more week left ONE MORE WEEK, no more high school EVER, for the rest of my LIFE!! Throughout this whole year I was so excited at the prospect of going to uni, and now suddenly the time has come I feel really scarred. I don’t want to leave, I want to stay in this cocoon where we are protected and have good teachers and friends and a school to go to everyday and a mum to cook dinner for me every night. It just feels so weird that all of this will all be over, and I will never see so many of these people I see everyday again. Well anyway your last answer made me feel a bit better, so thanks so much! I’m sure uni will be a blast and summer will be too!