A comment found in my moderation box, to go under 2010's "How to Look Like a Nice Catholic Girl":
I really enjoyed this post with all of its great information!! I am trying to impress a very nice boy at my church so this article was EXTREMELY helpful!! I know I am only 13, but a lot of the topics covered I could very much relate to. Also, any tips for personal style? I love going shopping at thrift stores to find & remake old things into new. Some of my family & friends look at me like I'm crazy when I show off a new creation. Can I still be myself without getting the same crazy looks, or should I play it safe? Thanks, Mia
I am thirty years older than you, and I often think about how cool it would be to be thirteen. You see, you have something that most adults over 25 do not have: an almost limitless capacity to learn. And because your body is still growing and developing, you have the opportunity to help it become the healthiest, strongest and most flexible adult body you can have.
As a thirteen year old, you have at least seven years to go before you need to seriously think about impressing boys with your looks and personal style, falling in love and getting married. And, in fact, your entire life may very well be determined by what you do with these seven years. These seven years are very, very important.
I see that you have a creative mind, and that is wonderful. However, there are better things you can do with your creativity than shop for clothes, alter them and show them off to friends and family. The altering part, I admit, is pretty cool, if you mean that you are practicing cutting and sewing--real and useful skills.
Love of being noticed and applauded is the big temptation of teenage girls. It isn't such a problem when teenage girls strive to be noticed and applauded for your deeds, like getting an A in math, learning Italian or scoring the winning point in volleyball. It's a problem when teenage girls strive to get the attention merely by what you look like. At thirteen, as long as you are clean, healthy, happy and and wearing clean, modest clothing appropriate for your age and the weather, it does not matter what you look like.
Now you may feel disappointed and think I am either crazy or boring, but I remember very well what it was like to be thirteen. I even remember sitting on my bedroom floor trying to make "looks" out of my clothing after studying my latest thrilling issue of Seventeen magazine. I also remember the boy I had a crush on; I even remember his birthday.
But I have had thirty years to think about this, and I have come to the conclusion that the most important things you can do when you are thirteen are to learn, especially languages, to master skills, and to find a sport that you can excel in, even if that sport is chess. Instead of shopping, you could be reading. Instead of showing off looks, you could be showing your friends and family stories, poems or essays you have written on the subjects that interest you most. Instead of altering clothes, you could be doing math puzzles or learning new languages.
To be frank, you do not want to be noticed by boys right now. Any time you spend with boys that does not involve learning school subjects or playing games like chess or soccer is wasted time. At your age, boys are tempted to waste a lot of time.
My article about "looking like a Nice Catholic Girl" is one of the most popular posts I have ever written, but it was meant for women who are old enough to think about getting married in the next few years. The idea was to make women who have been unable to attract church-going men think about what messages their hair, make-up clothes might be sending.
When it comes to adult (20+) women befriending men who might make good husbands, having a nice appearance is only the beginning. It's like having a very impressive looking science project: the science project has got to be interesting through-and-through; it can't just LOOK good. People will notice the project because it looks good, but unless it involves excellent research and creative ideas, readers will become disappointed and lose interest. My post assumes that my adult women readers are already "fascinating science projects" underneath--the results of years of their own study, work and development--and just need some tips to be noticed by the people "at the science fair."
A young Catholic man once said to me, "I understand that girls are interested in me, but why do they think I should be interested in them?" He wasn't just talking about what the girls looked like; he was also talking about their interests and accomplishments. At thirteen, you are embarking on your high school career. If you excel at your studies, and if you excel at at least one sport, you may be able to win scholarships to college. This may mean the difference between a boring adult life and an exciting adult life, between meeting boring men who are not interested in creativity, and meeting interesting men who are interested in creativity. Boys and men who are interested only in superficial appearances, like the clothes you wear, are losers.
This is what I wish adults had said to me when I was thirteen--or if they did and I didn't listen, this is advice I wish I had followed at thirteen. I hope you take it seriously and find it helpful. And I hope you share what I have written (here and in the original post) with your mother or another adult who loves you. Please don't automatically trust complete strangers whose advice you find on the internet.
By the way, that guy I had a crush on when I was thirteen? While I was wasting time thinking about him, he was playing sports and studying. Now he is a wealthy accountant, highly respected in the business world of our hometown. Back then, I wished he would notice me. Now I wish I had worked harder to do what he was doing: working on becoming a better athlete and a successful student!
Grace and peace,
Update for Canadian Readers: Sure, we don't really have sports scholarships in Canada--not like they do in the USA, but making a varsity team looks very good on a resume because it shows you can perform, and work with others, in a competitive environment.