Troubled Teen

My sister found this photo a couple of weeks ago.   I am thirteen, standing on the street with a cigarette, obviously looking for trouble. I found it, but that’s another story.

I was a child of the ’60’s, but god knows why I thought it was good to look like this. I remember the place in Venice where I used to buy long silk-velvet gowns for $6. I didn’t wear underwear or shoes, but eye-make-up was a priority.

Can you imagine being my mother? What a nightmare it must have been for her. She sometimes screamed at me, “I only hope one day you have a child just like you!” I’ve tried not to hurl this same curse at my own kids, but teenagers tend to challenge one’s patience and sanity.

At thirteen, I insisted that I was adult enough to do whatever I wanted, but in reality I was a complete idiot. Thinking about Tavi now, I see how focused she is. At least she knows something about something, even it’s all about runway fashion. I was an empty vessel, rebelling against authority with all my might, with no other interests or concerns.

I used to blame my parents for how defiant and out of control I was, but now I’m thinking that teenagers have to be awful, if for no other reason than to break away and live their own lives. If they weren’t awful, you might not encourage them to move the hell out of the house.

But some teenagers are more awful than they need to be. Were any of you as awful as me? Or even more awful? Do any of you have an awful teenager of your own to try not to kill deal with? Please share with the class!

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63 Responses to “Troubled Teen”

  1. Eli Says:

    Gosh were the 90’s awful to be a teenager – the internet was coming out, in its unfiltered chatroom glory (asl?), I was a rollerblade wearing weirdo, I loved climbing trees and had the scars to prove it, hated junior high and my family. I would never want to be 13 ever again.

    I do love that Tavi is tag :)

  2. Theresa Says:

    Only 6 months out of teenagerdom- I am definitely still awful and reveling in it.

    I like to think of myself as a future “prodigal son.” I like to think that my rebellion will reap some kind of enflated glory. I want to taunt my parents with visions of future glory. but mostly I just want them to believe in it the way I do (sometimes.)

    Underwearlessness and eyemakeup abound. Thanks to your influence and WendyB, I’ve also discovered red lipstick. I can’t wait for the future when I can hate my current self without feeling defensive.

    For the record, I think you look beautiful. But I self consciously “allow” you to discount my opinion. I have a lot of those and most them are pretty stupid.

    I can’t wait to have kids and attempt to raise them differently than my parents raised me. The truth is, when that time comes, Im petrified to discover how unnecessarily cruel I am to my parents (particularly my mother.)

  3. Theresa Says:

    that sounded very angsty but six months is not enough practice to entirely leave teenagerdom behind.

  4. Bex Says:

    You looked lovely then too!

    My parents just shipped me off to boarding school. That straightened me out. Or so they thought…

  5. arline Says:

    I was awful, anorectic/bulimic and at once defiant. I loathed anything that looked like authority, yet I really wanted love and approval too.

    I seem to have come into the world angry. Luckily I have moved through the brunt of it, and have forgiven a lot.

    The one I have to forgive, is that 15 year old, who is still alive and well inside me.

    I am the one who has to love and approve of her.

    At times, I am a little bit envious of those teens who seem to have good relationships with their parents, and who also have great focus other than self destruction. However, my path was my path (still is) , and it serves no one for me to compare.

    I am just glad I am not a teen anymore.

  6. KC Says:

    I think you look lovely – i was a 90’s child,
    my photos are nowhere near as stylish – floral dresses with scrunched socks, happy pants and cargo pants, little cami’s and faux fur jackets – shudder.

  7. WendyB Says:

    This picture is too gorgeous. You were MADE to cause trouble!

  8. WendyB Says:

    Really, I can’t get over this. Send me a poster-sized version for my ceiling at once.

  9. skye Says:

    Gorgeous picture, making trouble looking glamorous as usual SW!

    I was awful, definitely. I got on detention for “flouncing” once, that’s what the teacher wrote on the slip. I think she told me to go class and i flounced off, and she gave me detention for it. How awful I must have been (and obviously flouncing was the very, very least of it).


    Wow, beautiful photo. I love it…

  11. Alicia Says:

    I wish I had rebelled. I have no sense of direction now. LOL.

  12. Dru Says:

    No thirteen-year-old should look that gorgeous- if my thirteen-year-old self had known the girl in the picture, she’d have simultaneously envied and girl-crushed on her. And great lord your hair is glorious- I can’t name too many people who could wear white flowers in their hair and look badass instead of hippie or daft.

    Like Eli and KC, I was a 90s child – and I could be awful (to be fair, my parents were pretty awful in their own right, and helped my awfulness reach heights it would never have otherwise achieved- thankfully they are much nicer now. Also, distance from them helps keep me sane).

  13. Dru Says:

    As for rebellion, I ran away from school once, but no one caught me out- there wasn’t any special reason for it besides wanting to break a rule to know what it felt like. That and the fact that my parental units never let me go anywhere that wasn’t school or home, and it got a bit stifling.

  14. Jamtart Says:

    What a beautiful girl! The 1960s would have to have been the best time in the history of civilization to have been a rebellious teenager. I didn’t rebel in my teens (my parents wouldn’t let me). I left it until my mid-twenties and did much more damage than would have been done if I’d been able to get the angst out of my system a decade earlier.

  15. TheShoeGirl Says:

    That photo is AMAZING… you look like a fucking goddess. Love it! Yaaaw!

    Um, ya so I was a terrible teen for sure. I remember thinking I was so tough with my plaid pants and wife beaters and creepers and dog collars and my stuffing of my bra. Oh and all that paired with multi colored rubber bands on my braces just screamed bad-ass I’m sure.
    Wanna hear a funny secret- One year I thought I was SO bad-ass and so anti main stream that I dressed as a dead Gwen Stefani for Halloween. I dressed as her with slit wrists and blood all over my bejeweled “gwen” wife beater. Proudly telling everyone at my high school that No Doubt sucked and were a bunch of pop music pussy posers.
    Isn’t it ironic that I now work with her??… what an asshole I was.

  16. Leslie Says:

    I wasn’t a rebellious child. I never smoked, did drugs, swore, danced..anything really. When I was thirteen, the only thing I was concerned about (and what made me ‘rebellious’ in my parents’ eyes) was whether or not I was going to have enough time to spend time with my Internet friends playing online video games, therefore not spending enough time on piano playing, studying, etc. Thankfully, as I segued into 14, I forgot about computer games very quickly. I also realized that I sucked at communicating with people in my grade and I thought that they were all morons.

    Have I changed? I don’t know. I certainly try to be less judgmental. But it’s a little difficult considering the fact that I still think that the people surrounding me are utter idiots. The only thing that’s changed is that I’m now aware that I’m probably as idiotic as everyone else (damn).

    I don’t think I’m going to be rebelling anytime soon à la Jamtart, but I think it’d be pleasant to be alone for awhile. Moving away from my family and semi-friends, that’s as extreme as I get. Ha.

    P.S.. Post more pictures of young you (please).

  17. Sarah P Says:

    The photo’s beautiful and wistful and incredible – and makes my own teenage years even more depressing Godammit. I was brought up in a deeply religious family, and although I had a perfectly lovely little face I was tremendously fat. Add to this the religiouswear (no makeup, no jeans or trousers, a lot of drab unornamented long skirts I made myself ‘cos nothing else would go round my arse), the crippling insecurity at not being able to talk to anyone at school about pop music or TV, & spending every lunchtime in the school library, I only fucking wish I’d caused my parents trouble. By the age of about 16 I was middle aged – I never, really, had a youth. (All of which is horribly self-pitying considering I was loved and looked after, but, you know…)

    I hope any teenage daughter of mine raises hell, so I do.

  18. hammie Says:

    Of course you were beautiful, still are.

    Sis, while I think I was kind of intense and I definitely regret my falling out with ImeldaMike (Senior Year) – Time has taught me that my parents really were arseholes and I was probably a lot nicer to them than they deserved.
    And they drove me out of the house at the age of 18 and 1 month to the other side of the world where I had to survive with all the skills I learned growing up with their appalling selfishness, discouragement, criticism and guilt.

    I’d like to say that they gave me the skills to cope with how I live now, but my best lessons in life have come from trying to be as much NOT LIKE THEM as I possibly can.


  19. Esz Says:

    Wow you look so stunning!! LOVE the photo. Just reinforces the idea that the 60s would have been an awesome time to be a teenager 😉

    I wasn’t too rebellious…Though I did have a penchant for heavy music like Slipknot and wearing baggy boys jeans. Then when I was 16 I realised I had a pretty good body and the boys like that and swung in the opposite direction wearing clubbing clothes to school. THAT moved onto dance music and party pills right until only a few years ago….not so rebellious cos my parents were always pretty open minded! Hehe.

  20. dust Says:

    I was “allowed” to rebel as long as I was good in school.
    My Dad was a rebel himself, so he wasn’t too interested in details. Once, or twice, I ran away with a band. Once I was in the band. My dad didn’t know, so we were siting in front of the TV and suddenly, here I am performing and giving interview. He was angry but proud, later he collected all articles and recorded all TV stuff. My rebellion became a mainstream.
    Later, when I didn’t become a scientist as I was supposed to, I went to big world to study fashion, on my own. When I got my diploma, I wasn’t a rebel anymore, i was officially a designer.
    What have I learned: never stop looking for trouble!
    My Dad would agree…he was 67 and diagnosed with cancer when my brother caught him “on the pile” with a lady that wasn’t his girlfriend, his rebellious charm and cool were still irresistible for grannies.
    I miss him…

  21. Sheri Says:

    I read a fabulous article about adolescence once, in which the author points out that the hardest thing about it is that you are caught up in a lot of things that you know on some level don’t really matter, but at that moment they do, or you have to at least act as if they do. I remember feeling this in high school.

    On the flip side, my oldest son, who is about to turn 20, told me over his Christmas break that “now that he’s over all his teenage angst he’s realized that I’m not really that bad of a mom after all.” Now that’s praise!

  22. boops Says:

    i used to fight constantly with my mother. she never wanted me to leave the house, and i was (and still am) so curious about people and the world beyond our block. it was always a battle of the wills. i don’t find myself regretting how i behaved. i was a good kid, well behaved in school, good grades, a team player, helped those you needed it, etc… but i was a teenager, how was i supposed to have some perspective when i hadn’t experienced most of life, and my own mother seemed to be hindering my attempts to do so. to this day, though i know she loves me, i don’t think she ever really liked me.

    it feels good to get that off my chest. thanks.

  23. Ann Says:

    First of all, you were and still are one of the most breathtakingly beautiful women I have ever seen.

    My teen years are the reason why I chose to remain childless. And I was a pretty good kid! I have no idea how one raises children in this world, and has them grow up to be functional, kind, intelligent, aware and contributing members of society. I know I would fail miserably, because I’d want to kill them for coming home an hour past curfew, which is the least of what most kids do. Bless all you moms (and dads) out there!

  24. Jill Says:

    13! Wow…I had glasses and braces!

    I rarely went to high school…I hated it. I went to an Agricultural based school…FFA (Future Farmer’s of America)…the girls used to follow me in the halls and sing Uptown Girl. It wasn’t funny. So, I skipped quite a lot of school and went to the beach (Galveston was only a 30 minute drive). All the boys I dated were surfers and bad boys. When I actually went to school, we would stop off at the Stop n Go, fill up a slurpee cup half way and fill the rest with vodka. Probably explains my tolerance for alcohol today.

    All of this said…I never once snuck out of the house. My parent’s always knew where I was and just tolerated it. I guess they thought I would grow out of it.

  25. Tor (fabfrocks) Says:

    You look so beautiful! Incredible hair!
    I was all angst and trying to fit in – I could go from goth to indie kid to skater. I eventually settled into my role as fashion obsessed retro drunk!
    I wonder how my poor parents kept up!

  26. Jenni Says:

    Jesus, alot of 18 year olds (myself included) don’t look half as good as you did at thirteen! As for rebellion…I guess my parents allowed me enough freedom and trust me enough to let me do what I want so I don’t really feel the need to rebel from anything- I choose when and where I go out, and I have enough foresight to realise that I really REALLY have to pass my exams in order to go to university and move out in 6 months. I probably shouldn’t go out on too many all nighters, but you’ve got to have a few good memories to look back on don’t you?

  27. annemarie Says:

    You are 13 in this picture? Holy shit!! You are the most glamorous 13 yr old I have ever seen! And look at that skin! That hair! Such a beautiful girl.

    Hammie’s comment summed up my lot too. My mother was/is a manipulator extraordinaire and convinced me that I had ruined her life and that I was irredeemably evil. I only began to realize how badly she had fucked me up when I was in my early twenties.

    I was aright as a teen– in spite of what was said to me about me, I gave very little trouble. All I wanted was to be invisible. I barely spoke, just read and read and read, went on very long walks, smoked a lot of weed. I was quite morbidly depressed and thought about suicide a lot, but I didn’t care enough about life to want to leave it. It was just comforting to think that I could. It made me feel as though I had at least some power over my fate.

  28. Dru Says:

    Shallow question, Sister- how did you get those flowers to stay in your hair? Do tell, please.

  29. Jenny Dunville Says:

    Sis- lov the pic! It brought back many memories. Late 60’s early 70’s I LOVED makeup (forbidden by my parents “trashy”). I tried my damnedest to look like Twiggy or Jean Shrimpton. I even shoplifted makeup. No shoes for me either, preferring to dance barefoot. The only way to maintain peace in the house was to simply stop telling my parents anything about what I did. It is the job of teenagers to be a pain in the ass, but I have to say, I enjoyed my teenagers immensely and look back on that time fondly. Much to laugh about.

  30. hoochiegucci Says:

    I was right up there with you sista….

  31. Lauren Says:

    Sister, I have to say you were a gorgeous 13 year old (even with the cig)!

  32. K-Line Says:

    Firstly, you were a gorgeous child of the 60s. I was very people pleasing in my adolescence (as I remember it), but my own daughter goes her own way. She has been acting like a teenager since she was 4 – in some ways never grew out of the tantrums – and it’s a really frustrating / challenging element of her personality – and our dynamic. I struggle with it. So I’m a bit nervous about the actual teens. Though I figure I have a lot of practice under my belt.

  33. Lottie Says:

    I’m fifteen. I’m a god awful teenager. Typical really!

    I quite like your outfit actually :)

  34. patni Says:

    Wow! you were a good looking 13! I found the trouble too. I drank a good bit, usually during school hours, skipped a lot of school. I tried to set the school on fire once. That is a long story. I smoked of course, even though it was gross i just felt it was the right image. Dear god. I ran away from home at 16 and went to India. I broke the hinges on all the doors in our house by slamming them.
    I am now (well) over 40, get along great with my parents, but i am still enraged at the world around me sometimes.

  35. patni Says:

    and……I never got the make up down though. I used a LOT of black eyeliner and black lipstick and kind of left it at that. Some times i made my hair green with food colour. I think i have the makeup/ hair colour down better now.

  36. Make Do Style Says:

    Wonderful gorgeous photo. That photo is a diamond just like you SW.
    I’d have been scared of you but admired you from a far. I’d probably gone and got cigarettes for you if you told me to. In return you’d have amused yourself with deriding my fame school behaviour and heckled me when on stage. But you’d have come to all my parties and probably have fancied my dad! Love you teach xx

  37. SwanDiamondRose Says:

    i agree, you do look lovely. all lost in the parking lot.

    and badass, moi? i keep trying not to post one of the 1st shoots i did with friends. i’ve posted and deleted it once. i used some of my 1st model dollars to buy thigh high custom made 4″ heel lace-up-the-front patent leather dominatrix boots. this is at 15. we did a shoot, me under the influence of even badder type individuals of course, with me in those, under a lightning bolt projection, i was actually well covered but in unmentionables, and was toting a real [though plugged up] machine gun. machine guns are heavy, especially in 4″ heels, and i kept falling over. looking back at that, i am speechless.

  38. Eliza Says:

    I started a Gay/Straight Alliance at my high school after having a knife held to my throat in an empty classroom for defending my gay male best friend. That was considered rebellion; I “made myself stand out from the crowd” and “asked for trouble” by challenging bigotry and bullying. I was too miserable and square to participate in the conventional self-destructive venues of underage drinking, drugs, and casual sex like my sisters. I made the honor roll, read too many books, never broke curfew and rarely went out with friends anyway, wore too many black clothes maybe. What I considered integrity and self-expression were harmless but unrelateable to my parents. They sent me to psychologists and tried to keep me back from college.

    Angst extends far beyond adolescence. I’m far luckier than friends who were physically and mental abused or kicked out of their homes, but it hurts at a spiritual level all the same. My parents love me because they would consider themselves bad parents if they didn’t.

  39. Nic Says:

    I was rebellious, but it was more about the injustices of the day. My parents would basically say, “if you don’t like it, go live in Russia” WTF? Also being gay in a small redneck town was not easy.

  40. Faux Fuchsia Says:

    You look gorgeous and very Sea’o’Shoes in this outfit….I’m shocked that no one else has noticed the obvious similarities: great top, long thick dark hair, floral hair arrangements, cigarette, artsy photo. Twins.

  41. Mark Says:

    I can’t stand how much you rule.

    Age 13: I wore ball caps with wings, or horns, or antlers coming out of them. I thought I was the shit. I was wrong. I also had a “Mr. Bill” T-shirt that I thought was pretty cool. Then I switched to preppy–and here I am preppy again, almost 30 years later.

    You were living life at 13. I was in the bathroom, jerking off to Jockey underwear ads, or playing Space Invaders on Atari.

  42. Kate Says:

    Sister Wolf you are absolutely beautiful. I was nineties child of hippie parents, so rebelling at school was expected, nigh, encouraged. I didn’t do too much rebelling at home – my parents generally loved my thrifted, doc marten’d outfits and liked my bedraggled friends. I’m also lucky in that they weren’t crazy or manipulative – were actually beloved by all my friends for their attitude and the interest they showed in the minutae of our lives. As long as I got the grades to get into university – anything went. Like Skye I once got a detention for “flouncing” (maybe an antipodean thing as I’m NZ) after being told to leave the class to wash my makeup off. I was only wearing mascara, but the natural fair skin and dark lips drove my crazy classics teacher insane. I also got told to stay away from school the day the prime minister came to open the new science block – it was the middle of the first Gulf War and they were worried (rightly) that I might wear all my anarchist badges and shout ‘no blood for oi’ during the ceremony. Bless.

  43. Bevitron Says:

    Sister Wolf, you were (and are) just beautiful! And thirteen?!? I’d have been awestruck by what I’m sure I would’ve seen as your sophistication and I would’ve despised/admired you for it. I was awful, but not the good, interesting kind – hopeless! Ugly and big-butted and a total music geek. All I ever did was practice & prepare music lessons and do homework and wear stupid clothes and get stupid hairdos.

    I do think teenagers need to be awful for a while. I wasn’t allowed to be that kind of awful, the figuring out how the world works kind, and it had the effect of making me REALLY awful in the worst kind of way – whiny, fearful, naive, hesitant, yet demanding. I got over some of it (many would disagree), but I give an inner cheer when I see teenagers pushing buttons and stepping over lines.

  44. Aja Says:

    I wish I had rebelled more. I think my parents were expecting great things from me as far as teenage rebellion goes and instead all they got was an angsty book/theater dork with a penchant for writing smutty literature. Damn. My time could have been spent much more efficiently.

  45. Dru Says:

    ^Faux Fuchsia: I actually think Sister Wolf looks more like Queen Michelle than any other blogger, for most of the very same reasons as you (fabulous dark hair, porcelain skin, obviously not giving a fuck whatever anyone thinks of what they wear).

  46. Queen Michelle Says:

    I didn’t rebel against my parents as they were quite open minded, but I rebelled against The System. I didn’t even know what The System was, I just knew I didn’t want any part of it so I wrote letters to everyone from MP’s to US Senators moaning about everything! When I wasn’t moaning about The System, I was skateboarding and listening to thrash metal.

  47. Minzhi Says:

    ok, you might have enough of this word already, but you looked gorgeous.

  48. Deni Says:

    Sista Canis Lupus you look marvelous, then and now. A bit of a hellion, you were, aye? And still are . . . bravo!
    As for me I must have had oppositional defiant disorder when it came to my parents (or any figure of authority). I resented everything about my parents and wanted nothing to do with them as a teenager. We, my parents and I, clashed on every front. There was no peace while I was in my teens. Now I miss them and see them in the full context of their culture and era (which wasn’t my culture and era). What the fuck did I know as a teen anyway? What the fuck do I know now in my 50s? (Did I just mention my age?) It was all about SDRnR stirred not mixed with a bit of politics. But methinks if it wasn’t for that teenage angst and rebellion the world wouldn’t turn!

  49. Miss Cavendish Says:

    Gorgeous image! Total California cool.

  50. erika Says:

    I was one of those teens that was a good girl and into everything. Student Givernment, Drama Club, Honors classes. I went to an all girls school. I also smoked and drank but I managed it. My real downfall was at 16 I made the dumb mistake of discovering boys and everything went downhill fast. If I had to do it all over again I would have definitely waited until I was much wiser, like now in my 30’s. Or maybe some day when I do wise up about boys.

  51. Sonia Luna Says:

    Sister Wolf you were a stunner, and you did indeed looked like trouble, and still do!
    I was considered the black sheep in my family, in retrospective my rebellion was rather mild, I sometimes wish I’d given my parents something to really worry about, if anything to have funny anecdotes to recount at parties, but I loved them to much to really go for it, plus being Italian and catholic the guilt was strong (thankfully I grew out of that!).

  52. Denise (denisekatipunera) Says:

    you’re beautiful.

    i never got the chance to rebel. Guess am living a boring life. hihihi.

  53. Sister Wolf Says:

    This has been so fascinating! So many different ways to rebel, and so many of you seem to have had an innate understanding of how far it was safe to go… unlike me.

    I am also AMAZED by how much everyone likes that photo!!! I hesitated to post it, since all I can think when I look at it is: “what an idiot!” xoxo

  54. Amber Says:

    I’m 17…I just wanna ask-does it (meaning life in general) get better?

  55. Dru Says:

    Amber- take it from a twentysomething oldie who had an awful time at seventeen, yeah it does. Especially after you’re out of high school (you mentioned you’re 17, so I assume you’re still in school).

  56. Aja Says:

    I second Dru. Amber I couldn’t be paid enough to go back to 17 years of age. I wish I hadn’t cared as much when I was there, but by comparison, your twenties are AWESOME. Chin up!

  57. Marmalade Wombat Says:

    So pretty. You could be a cover for a vampire book. Maybe you should hammer a paperback out and stick this on front. vampires are big right now – you can tell because all the tv crime shows are running episodes involving vamps.

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  61. KD Says:

    Wow . . . people say that they bunked off of school so casually! I could never do that. I’m 16 now and my hair is henna-d and I wear lots of eye makeup (navy mostly) and I think I look pretty teenager-y but other than that I am not a teenager at all. I have never done anything remotely illegal other than ducking the turnstile at the train station – and a policeman stopped me, so I haven’t done it since. Sure I have friends and a pretty good relationship with my parents & sister but I am a bit of a loner. This sounds super pretentious/hypocritical but I feel like the vast majority of people are insanely predictable, even when rebelling. My idea of going out is to museums. I’ve never been to a party and my parents are pretty liberal – its just that I’ve never been invited to one! I have a feeling that I’ll look back on my teenage years relieved that nothing too bad happened but sort of sad too (assuming it stays the same). I know a lot of girls who’ve never been kissed or been in a relationship, but I still feel like I’m the only one. Adults think teenagers are way more sexually active than they actually are!

  62. KD Says:

    Also I know that comment was super late but I was browsing the archives and wanted to comment on this post.

  63. KD Says:

    One more thing: I don’t know but I wish I did how people my age get into “clubs” or dancey places! I want to go but I also don’t want to risk getting mugged in a sketchy neighborhood. And I am way too scared of authority in general.

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