Asian Girl Problem #87: Surviving Puberty

When she was a teenager, my mom’s personal hygiene routine was something like this:

1. wake up
2. wash face
3. brush teeth
4. brush hair
5. on Saturdays, go to the bath house to take a long shower
6. wash face at the end of the day
7. maybe wash feet

She used the same bar of soap on her body, hair and clothes.* No shaving, plucking, hairstyling, sunscreen/lotion, makeup, deodorant. I’ve accepted and come to love her refreshingly low-maint (or some may say lazy) attitude now that I’ve got my shit together, but man she could’ve saved me so many growing pains if she simply knew what it took for a modern girl to get ready.

Yeah I eventually bought razors and contained my boobs, but that awkward pubescent girl still surfaces, especially when I’m hanging with ladies who grew up getting manicures and going to brunch to celebrate “becoming a woman.”

The first time I got my period, my mom verified that the blood was coming out of the right hole (I’ll leave it at that), took me to my room and told me I could get pregnant now. For months, I wondered if she meant it could happen at any time, or only during days I bled.

The first time I bought deodorant, it was in retaliation to Sharina, my frenemy, who asked me what kind I used in front of everyone. They had agreed that they preferred the baby powder scent, but I wasn’t about to follow the masses, so I think I said “Mine has no smell.” I was sure they knew I had no idea what deodorant was. But a trip to the supermarket that night solved that. Too bad I never got to talk about it again. Nor do I use or need it anymore.

The first time I did anything about my leg hair was in seventh grade, trying to cut them off with a pair of nail scissors. I was fed up with wearing long pants for gym, and it was really obvious which girls hadn’t started shaving yet because they were still suffering in the summer heat. (Including my Muslim friend who Sharina had made fun of for smelling like soy sauce all the time. “It’s weird, you’re Chinese, and you don’t smell like soy sauce.”) After that failed, I think I stole one of my dad’s.

The first time I tried to tame my eyebrows involved the same nail scissors. It was a success, in the sense I still have my sight.

The first time I wore makeup was in tenth grade at the cosmetics department of Nordstrom, where my friend talked me through eyeliner, shadow and mascara. That was and is the extent of my foray into makeup.

And there was the time my friend and her mom took me for my first bra.

But hey at least I didn’t have helicopter parents. I got to bond with other females and friends during those awkward milestones and learn about sex from what I picked up in the locker room. And now I leave the house every day and pass for a well-kempt female. Kids are resilient.

*She’s still a germ-hating neat-freak, which is a whole other story. Or read this amazing primer.


One thought on “Asian Girl Problem #87: Surviving Puberty

  1. Pingback: Asian Girl Problem #108: Never the Flower Girl | Asian Girl Probs

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