POM: April 12
As a teen I used to complain about having to dragged off every weekend to our family’s cabin. Silly me. How many sixteen old girls would have loved having a community pool to hang out once we were done waterskiing? No wonder my parents were a tad irked with my complaints at times. Aah–sixteen year old girls with a pool to themselves (mostly) and hoping a cute boy or two (we actually needed three) would chance by and liven up our weekend. This poem is so about our baby oil tan days.
The Summer I Was Sixteen
"The turquoise pool rose up to meet us, its slide a silver afterthought down which we plunged, screaming, into a mirage of bubbles. We did not exist beyond the gaze of a boy..."
Beautiful poem, but quite disturbing, too. The idea of a woman not existing without the male gaze. I wonder how much of that is created by a patriarchal culture. But it’s still a beautiful poem.
Teenage girls, as we know, have a very different lens on the world. I see your point though. Do guys feel the same way at sixteen I wonder.
A friend’s 16-yr-old son says “no.” But that is only one data point. If I used myself and my nieces and friends as data points, those who played sports and enjoyed strong relationships with their fathers, had higher self esteem than those who didn’t. The sports gave them a sense of accomplishment that depended only on their internal drive and external skills, and the strong relationship with their fathers gave them confidence that they would be loved by a man no matter their external appearance. When I was 16, I barely existed without the male gaze. By the time I graduated from college with an engineering degree (age 25), I had overcome that feeling. I think it’s so ingrained, the way we tend to compliment little girls on how they look rather than what they’re doing. I’ve learned to focus on what my nieces have done or are doing, their accomplishments, rather than tell them I like what they’re wearing or how they’ve changed their hair.
Sounds like you had some pretty idyllic summers!
Born in June makes me a summer child.