What if You Woke Up and You Were a Teenage Girl?

You’ve received gratis what everyone wants: a second chance at a first start. But why hasn’t Clay returned your text?

You wake up one morning and suddenly you’re a teenage girl. Not a teen idol like Taylor Swift or Rebecca Black, but a regular, run-of-the-mill teenage girl. This might have shocked a lesser man, but you’ve seen or read all of the great body-switch comedies:  Freaky FridayThe Change-UpSwitch, the remake of Freaky FridayThe Metamorphosis.

Instead of freaking out à la the principals in Freaky Friday, you realize that this is a great opportunity. After all, your previous stint as a teenage boy was nothing to write home about. You were eczema-riddled, marble-mouthed, clinically depressed, and a regular Mr. Puny-verse when it came time to change in the locker room.  “If only I could have been a girl,” you remember yourself thinking. It would be so much simpler.

You take a deep breath, roll out of bed, and stumble toward the bathroom. Things are looking up for you.  You’ve received gratis what everyone wants:  a second chance at a first start.

But why hasn’t Clay returned your text?  It’s been nine days, after all. What’s his problem? You had such a great time that night. He told you that you were pretty cool, and you told him he was pretty cool. It was all so very cool. From time to time, you find yourself glancing wistfully at your last textual encounter:

 u: u r so cool

Clay00: u 2

u:  u 2 lol

Clay00: yah u 2 lolol

You devote an hour to showering and preparing yourself for school. You never spent more than ten minutes on personal upkeep when you were a guy—and it showed, given how terrible you looked most of the time—and initially you’re uncertain about why you’re now lavishing so much attention on yourself. It’s not for your own well-being, is it? No, it can’t be: Deep down, you still couldn’t care less about how you look. It’s for everybody else.

When you arrive at school, you find yourself plugged into a social network unlike any you’ve encountered before.  Previously you had just loathed everyone around you  and spent the time you weren’t paying attention in class thinking about how great it would feel to get your cherry popped or how much you’d like to reconfigure the lineup of your woebegone Cleveland Browns franchise in Madden ‘07’s “Dynasty Mode.”  Now you’re worried about what Katie thinks. And about what Katy thinks. And about what Katie thinks about Katy. Then there’s Cate and Kate. What are they thinking about Katie and Katy?  And where is Clay? Why wasn’t he in homeroom?  Should you text him again?  Sure, another one can’t hurt.  Just to be sure, right?

u: where r u (5 minutes ago)

u: where u at (4 minutes ago)

u: hey where r u (2 minutes ago)

u: just thinkin about u (1 minute ago)

u: hey (1 minute ago)

While engaged in these heavy cogitations, you ignore all of the invisible, pathetic ciphers who—if you stopped to consider them for even a second—would remind you of the teenage geek you once were. You’re not being mean or short-sighted, though:  these people simply aren’t part of the scene that you’ve been scrutinizing with such intense focus.  Katie, Katy, Cate, Kate, Emily, Emme, Em, and Emmy are.  So are Clay, Stone, Wynn, Sharpe, Haden, Braden, Haden Braden, and the other not-so-beta males who warrant your notice.

By sixth period, you’re exhausted.  How could anyone keep track of so much information?  Who knew that every interaction was so fraught with power and status implications?  And this is the very moment when the rubber hits the road—or, to be more accurate, when your chair squeaks in a manner not entirely dissimilar to a poorly-stifled fart.

Emme says something to Em.  Em then says something to Emmy.   Katie, Katy, and Kate begin whispering not-so-sweet somethings to one another.  A note may or may not have started circulating.  Is there anything on Facebook?  Check it.  Oh, that’s wonderful:

Emme Ann

2 minutes ago near School

lol she tooted xoxo

Emmy Anne, Emily Anna, and 3 three others like this

 This is exactly what you don’t need. Why are they doing this to you?  Was it really the squeak-fart that made them turn on you, or was it something else?  A secret sin you’ve committed? Perhaps you didn’t laugh at, wear, or do the right thing at any point during the previous six hours.  And what is wrong with Clay?  He was supposed to be the one, and he hasn’t answered any of these texts!  Everything is spinning out of control, and it seems like you’re never going to recover.

The thought of doing this all over tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow—every tomorrow for as far into the future as you can project—is too much to bear.  Yeah, it was just as awful being a teenage boy, but at least the life of a loser didn’t require so much effort.  But wait!  A text message has arrived:

clay00:  sorry babe phone got stoled n brokeN sup 2day???

12 hours into your change-up/metamorphosis/freaky Friday-ization, you reach the following conclusion:  Guys have it so easy.

Sponsored Content

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Oliver Lee Bateman

Good Men Project contributing editor Oliver Lee Bateman is a columnist for Al-Jazeera America and Made Man Magazine. His writing has been featured in Salon, The Atlantic, Johnny America, Stymie: A Journal of Sport and Literature, the U.S. Intellectual History Blog, STIR Journal, Mic.com, and NAP Magazine. He is also one of the founders of the Moustache Club of America and Penny & Farthing, two blogzines specializing in flash fiction and creative nonfiction that he co-curates with web developer Erik Hinton, medical consultant Nathan Zimmerman, and freelance writers Christie Chapman and J. R. Powell. Oliver is a lawyer as well as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. Follow him on Twitter @MoustacheClubUS or on Google+.

Comments

  1. “Yeah, it was just as awful being a teenage boy, but at least the life of a loser didn’t require so much effort.”

    Er… I think girls who do this kind of stuff find it entertaining. That’s why they do it.

  2. David Byron says:

    See, the one thing I learned from watching Freaky Friday and the rest of those movies is if you body swap with someone do NOT go to school or work that day. Call in sick! Going to school is a rookie mistake.

    But if you were a teenage girl wouldn’t you be tempted to “spread the wealth” with all those poor geek boys? Why not be generous with what you’ve got?

    • Julie Gillis says:

      Are you seriously saying that the thing someone should do if he woke up in another’ person’s body is let geek boys have sex with it? Or is that a tongue in cheek response?

  3. This piece assumes that you would lose knowledge and experience gained in your previous life while your personality was also changed.
    So the person waking up as an teenage girl would be someone else. Not me.

  4. I don’t buy it that girls have it harder than boys do….different sure….that girls get their problems heard publicly and privately ….sure. That girls don’t have to lock down their emotions as much as boys do…sure. That society cares more about their wellbeing than that of the boys sure.

    Not every girl is the social butterfly described ….and some boys are.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      I think Oliver knows it’s not necessarily harder, just different. Just as when most of us were young, we didn’t have this torturous social media to follow us around and remind us of every zit. Not necessarily harder, just different.

      We had those notes that the clever girls knew how to fold up to look like a heart, or a cootie catcher, or a star. And you’d find one in the hallway and open it and it would say, “Joanna is such a slut” or “Joanna is so stuck up” (stuck up means the opposite of slut in teen-speak, btw). Somehow a girl could be called both in one day!

      But definitely as hard to be a teen boy.

  5. Ya, you forgot the parts where you get groped and that slut rumor is going around school about you that “clay00″ started and then you’re told you can’t play on the boys team and they call you a dyke.

    • Just for some balance. Ya forgot the parts where you rejected someone’s advances, she calls you a faggot and spreads a rumour that you raped her, and you were beaten into unconsciousness behind the school’s athletic field by the football team.

      • Julie Gillis says:

        My goodness high school has gotten dramatic!

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          I just wrote something similar above! High School was dramatic when I was there, too. You were a slut, stuck up, or a “lez” all in the same day. And they mean three completely different things, and are all somewhat mutually exclusive.

    • What is the suicide rate of teen boys vs teen girls?

      “In the U. S., at age 10-to-14-years boys
      commit suicide almost three times more
      often than girls; at age 15-to-19 five times
      more often, and at 20-to-24 almost ten
      times more often. This means that one female
      commits suicide for every four males.
      These gender differences may be due to the
      fact that suicide is often associated with
      aggressive behavior, which is more common
      in males. The strong social connectedness
      of girls is an additional protective
      factor.”

    • DavidByron says:

      Just to be clear: those are not things happening to you right now are they?

      • No way am I trying to belittle the statistics, but women attempt suicide more often than men and have reported higher rates of depression. The only reason men commit more is because they choose more dangerous methods.

        http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=84760

        So when I find people throwing up the statistic that claims men commit suicide more than women in some comparison thing as a who has it worst, I just have to point that out.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          I concur on Sarah’s reading of the stats. A more accurate set of stats to assess what they’re experiencing might be measurements of depression in teens (in various forms, eating disorders, cutting, anxiety disorders, etc).

          Also, let’s not forget what we all know: even if one group is seen as having it “worse” (the typical feminist dialogue), it doesn’t really matter in the end. Teens’ misery is important and it matters.

          • Being dead or alive at the end of the day matters……At least in my viewpoint…….So we should spend more to minimize girls attempts vs. minimizing boys deaths? Am I reading that right? Girls tend to attempt suicide as a cry for help…..Boy don’t expect any help and just get it over with. Adds up to males being the disposable sex…….even here.

          • Spidaman3 says:

            It’s especially paradoxical that in countries that have more happier people also have high suicide rates compared to other nations.

        • The only reason men commit more is because they choose more dangerous methods.

          thats incorrect, as in societies with strict guncontrol, like mine in the uk we still find alot more males commit suicide. ‘Men are nearly three times more likely to take their own life than women. In men under 35, suicide is the second most common cause of death in England and Wales. ‘
          http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Suicide/Pages/Malesuicide.aspx

          -
          .
          -

          In the U.S, male adolescents commit suicide at a rate five times greater than that of female adolescents

          In the U.S, male adolescents commit suicide at a rate five times greater than that of female adolescents, although suicide attempts by females are three times as frequent as those by males. A possible reason for this is the method of attempted suicide for males is typically that of firearm use, with a 78-90% chance of fatality. Females are more likely to try a different method, such as ingesting poison.[3] Females have more parasuicides. This includes using different methods, such as drug overdose, which are usually less effective.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teenage_suicide_in_the_United_States#Sex_ratio

          Here in the UK, where we do not have common access to guns, and so that factor is removed from the sex ratio disparity. Young males still committed more suicide. With Hanging and poison identified as the most popular methods for both.

          “Suicide rates in those aged 10-19 in the UK declined by 28% in the seven year period from 1997-2003, shows a study published today in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
          [snip]
          Despite the decline, however, suicide remains more common among young males than young females. For every one adolescent female (aged 15-19 years) who commits suicide in the UK, there are three adolescent males, the study revealed.
          [snip]
          The majority of young people were aged 15-19 (93% of the sample), and overall, the most common methods of suicide were hanging, followed by self-poisoning.
          [snip]
          Over the seven year period, only 14% of young people who committed suicide were in contact with mental health services in the year prior to their death, compared to 26% in adults. Again, there was a marked difference between males and females, with 20% of young females in contact with mental health services compared to only 12% of young males.

          “The low rate of service contact in young males is particularly interesting. Young men currently have the highest rates of suicide in the UK, and yet they are least likely to seek help,” said Windfuhr. ”

          http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081022211024.htm

          • When one feels totally worthless, why would you seek help? Males in western societies have little inherant value……what we do has value…..what we are has none.

        • “No way am I trying to belittle the statistics, but women attempt suicide more often than men and have reported higher rates of depression. The only reason men commit more is because they choose more dangerous methods. ”

          *twitch*

          you know the reason girls/women attempt suicide “more” than boysmen do?

          BECAUSE YOU CAN ONLY COMMIT SUICIDE ONCE

          Why does nbody seem to get this? Not only is every attempt by one girl counted, arbitrarily inflating the “girls who are suicidal” statistic but the “successful” attempts by men are not counted as attempts. the two are treated as completely separate statistics when they aren’t (neccessarily)

        • David Byron says:

          Not to get into the who gets it worse thing but….. people don’t just try to kill themselves once and then if that doesn’t work that’s the end of it. Women may chose methods with lower success but they get there in the end if they don’t recover first. Some suicide attempts seem to be intended to fail but these “pleas for help” often lead to lethal attempts. As for the greater rates of depression in women it’s hard to tell if that is just a higher rate of diagnosis because women see a doctor more often and doctors are more likely to see a woman as depressed.

          • But at the end of the day shouldn’t we measure the success of whatever intervention method that is used by how many lives are saved? by that simple metric society is failing men at 4 times the rate it fails women. Men are conditioned to be stoic…..one day maybe I’ll post my own outragous example of that. Society needs to stop failing men and ignoring their needs

        • No way am I trying to belittle the statistics, but women attempt suicide more often than men and have reported higher rates of depression. The only reason men commit more is because they choose more dangerous methods.

          http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=84760

          So when I find people throwing up the statistic that claims men commit suicide more than women in some comparison thing as a who has it worst, I just have to point that out.
          So while we’re pointing things out then let’s also bring up how (at least in the States) the majority of the discourse around depression is about women. There are articles and studies popping up these days with data on men and depression that would leave you thinking depression in men was just discovered. (In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ad for anti-depressants with a male).

          Which is a stark contrast to how the medical world is painted up by the you know whos claiming that medical science is modeled around male being the default and female being the variation. If that’s the case then why are people acting like depression in men is a new phenomenon?

          At the end of the day regardless of the fact that female may try it more by the numbers of male and female deaths we can clearly see that females are having a better chance at getting help. And I also think that this, “The only reason men commit more is because they choose more dangerous methods. ” is worth looking into. Going for such a dangerous (or should we more certain) method is clearly a sign that one has given up and thinks they are beyond help.

  6. pillowinhell says:

    Interesting to note that in both gender switches, the guys went from being run of the mill to, in one case hot and very wealthy and in the other more socially popular. Not saying that these stories don’t have some truth to them, but I really question how representative they are. Why weren’t you a geeky girl? Why weren’t you the least popular girl in your grade trying to out run the people who want to kick your ass? Why weren’t you menstruating?

    I ran with some of the geekiest guys in my highschool and a lot of juvenile delinquents. We talked about our lives, and things were hard and different. How would you feel if I as a feminist constructed a story about boys that played as heavily into the stereotypes as this one did? I couldn’t, because my best friends in highschool were male and it would be a slap in the face to everyone of them.

    As for the stats about male suicides and violence against them, I wholeheartedly agree it needs to stop, that boys and men need support and that the stats need to be set out where people can see what’s really going on. I’m trying to find the source study for the prevalence of female rapists…if someone here knows, can you drop me a post?

  7. wet_suit_one says:

    For my part, if I were suddenly a teenage girl with my own mind intact, I have always wondered just how many orgasms females could have in a row. I’d do my darnednest to find out.

    Needles to say I wouldn’t be leaving the house for a few days. I think I’d have to learn how to walk again too. That lower centre of gravity bit would throw me off kilter. And my god, having bosoms! OH MY!

    I could go on, but you get the gist of it…

  8. As someone who is not far past their years of being a high school girl, I can say that I thought neither side seemed exceptionally appealing nor horrific. Rather, different people were dealt different cards and played them very differently.

    I was an extremely confident, involved, academically successful 16 year-old girl who took about 15 minutes to get ready in the morning and spent more time debating politics that obsessing over drama. Although I like college more than high school, being a 16-year-old girl is not a universally challenging nor miserable experience.

    But I had friends who would say that this very, very accurately describes their high school experience. But neither side can be generalized.

  9. this is exactly what teenage girls are like. they care about their looks, boys and text messages. that’s it. all they think about. they’re too horribly self-absorbed to pay attention in class.

    well done.

  10. Cool story. :) To me this story says “Everyones’ problems are different, and its easy to think you have it harder than those on the other side of the fence” (Until, that is, you wake up in their shoes heh!)

    No, I did not think he was ACTUALLY saying ‘girls have it harder.’ It appears to be like a humor at the end. Grass is always greener? Anyone ever hear that phrase? Hello? haha. I don’t understand how so many people could misconstrue this story into something debate-worthy. He’s so clearly being fair to both sides, commenting on the difficulties of being a TEENAGER, for boys and girls alike. And how both sides always wish or ponder about being on the other side. derp.

    • Couldn’t have said it better myself. :)

    • That’s an astute comment, BEK. Let me clarify a few things for everybody else, though:

      1) You’re all absolutely right that men and women have an equally difficult time in middle school and high school. That’s simply an awful stage in all of our lives, and one best left completely in the past as soon as it concludes. What’s happening in this slight little piece is that the narrator realizes his life as a lonely loser, which was no better as a girl than as a boy, was easier when he was a boy because he didn’t find himself worrying as much about the social network in which he was embedded. But *I* don’t think that; I think that it’s just as hard to be a lonely male loser as it is to be a female loser who is more aware of what other people were thinking (not, of course, that all females are losers, or are more aware of what people are thinking than men, or spend an hour getting ready for school/work, etc.).

      2) I didn’t mean to suggest that this girl has it any better than the boy she once was; she may, in fact, be a nerdy “A” student at the very fringe of the clique of Cates/Kates/Katies she’s so concerned about. What I tried to focus on was the difference–slight, of course, and exaggerated here for the sake of humor–between how men and women seem to relate to the other people in their environment. If anyone was offended, I do apologize: quite a lot of this piece was intended to elicit laughter rather than serious contemplation of either the boy or the girl sketched herein.

      3) My fiancée nixed any discussion of menstruation, masturbation, sex, and the like in the piece. I believe this was an exceedingly wise decision, but I do apologize to anyone who expected to read about these things.

  11. Willie Albechillie says:

    If I woke up and I was a teenage girl I would piss my pants.

  12. Anonymous says:

    To be honest, girls don’t have it worse. And neither does guys. Each gender and its tendencies really sucks. Guys don’t just worry about videogames. Being a loser is much worse than stated in the story. It lowers self-esteem a lot. If I got a note saying I’m a geek loser etc. it would feel worse than being called gay because I know the former is true, personally. I know for a fact I’m not gay, but I play a lot of videogames and am only good at 2 1/2 sports. Jocks end up being good at 5, generally speaking. I don’t have a chance with any girl in or near the popular category. Being a guy is worse than it looks. Being a girl is just as hard I’m sure.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I started thinking about these things after reading a recent article on the Good Men Project’s website, a place I visit often because their mission is powerful and I spend hours, even days, mulling over much of what I’ve read there. The article, by Oliver Lee Bateman, is called “What if You Woke Up and You Were a Teenage Girl?” (http://goodmenproject.com/families/boys/what-if-you-woke-up-and-you-were-a-teenage-girl/). [...]

Speak Your Mind