When we were stuck in our tween or early teen years, it usually felt like looking like a grown-up was impossibly far away. And so we turned to magazine tips and our own clever ideas regarding things to do to look older as a teen surviving in the early 2000s.
If you were anything like me, you were probably tired of being rejected from R-rated movies and looking like somebody's dorky kid sister. Sure, you might have had braces, unruly frizzy hair, or those tinted wire-rimmed glasses, but that didn't mean you had to look your age. You were a teen (or nearly there), and with that meant you now had a plethora of weapons you could work with to flub your age: makeup and fashion.
And flub we did. We worked our hair into popular new trends and dyed it to look more mature. We rummaged through makeup drawers to darken our eyes like we saw TV sitcom stars doing, and tried on weird new colors that we thought were oh-so-grownup. And to compliment all that, we wandered away from the junior section at the department store and tried on the intimidating new styles the older girls were wearing. Does this all sound a little familiar? Below are 11 things many of us did to look older as pre-teens in the early '00s.
1. Woke Up Early To Dabble In Hair Trends
Coming to school in our natural frizzy hair wasn't helping us break out of our teenage bracket, so to give ourselves a boost of maturity, we'd wake up early to play around with new hair trends.
I, for example, would rise at 6 a.m. to try to flip my layers outwards á la Drew Barrymore, and it would take me a whole two hours because I had no idea what I was doing with that blow dryer.
2. Blasted Our Hair With Hairspray
Once we got our hair just so, we needed to keep it frozen for a full 24 hours, which is where the Aqua Net came in. Chances are your mom blasted her mane with the stuff (my mom def did), which is why we were led to believe that we'd look more mature with crunchy bangs.
3. Tried Frosted Lip Gloss
If you weren't quite ready to jump headfirst into lipstick (talk about intimidating), then lip gloss was likely the shallow end of the pool, so to speak. But slicking on a pink tinted gloss wasn't going to do much, which is why we needed to up the ante with some frost. Frosted pink lippies made us feel the way our childhood babysitters looked: Grown up, impossibly cool, and totally foxy.
4. Tinkered In Mom's Makeup Drawer
My mom's makeup drawer was a giant question mark to me, filled with pots and tubes and palettes that promised to make me look womanly if only I knew how to hold those weird brushes properly. So whenever I wanted to look like I might pass for an R-rated movie goer, I'd poke around in there and experiment.
This is why I now have pictures of me at 15 wearing frosted silver eyeliner and brown metallic lipstick. If that's not what an adult looks like, then I don't know what does.
5. And Stole Mom's Perfume
Elizabeth Arden Red Door, $29, amazon.com
While we were snooping around in her department store makeup drawer, we might as well have swiped some of her eau de toilette on. We'd feel every inch a grown woman, smelling like lilacs and fresh linen... and not the usual sparkly strawberries or vanilla overkill tweens were encouraged to soak up.
6. Dyed Our Hair
I bet most of us could think back to that first drugstore dye kit we bought and smile with equal parts nostalgia and pain. So many zebra streaks. So many cool, 20-something-worthy zebra streaks. Or so we thought.
7. Put On Clothes We Were Totally Uncomfortable In
I can't tell you how many sheer shirts, crochet bell sleeve tops, and uncomfortably low-cut blouses I bought from Charlotte Russe, Forever 21, and 5-7-9. I had every intention of swapping out my hoodies and graphic tees for them, but every time I put them on I blushed scarlet in my bedroom mirror and whipped them off. They went into my bottom drawer, earmarked for a day when I felt mature enough.
8. Put On Puff Bras
Now, I know not every Millennial girl did this, but a quick way to look like you weren't a baby was to get yourself a bust that didn't resemble mosquito bites. And to do that you had to get reinforcements. Sure, we could have gone the sock and tissue route, but we'd all seen enough cartoons and teen movies to know what happens when one does that. That's where our puff bras, water bras, and gel bras came in. We were 15 one moment, and then 16 and a half the next.
9. Put On An Ungodly Amount Of Eyeliner
Grownups wore eyeliner. Badass chicks who skipped senior class homeroom wore eyeliner. All the big sisters in your favorite sitcoms wore eyeliner. Ergo, if you wore the stuff, you would be mistaken for an adult. And so you bought a black crayon, and went absolutely ham on your peepers. You had the emo raccoon eye down-pat, and you felt fabulous.
10. Showed A Little Bit Of Skin
Here was the formula to not look like you still bought clothes from The Children's Place: Put on low-rise jeans (preferably ones with no back pockets), show a little bit of hip bone, match it with a shirt that just skimmed your belly button, and then never bend down or sit the whole day. It was a foolproof technique.
11. Got Rid Of Body Hair
To stop looking like someone's dorky little sister, we had to dive headfirst into the terrifying world of body hair removal. Wax strips, sharp razor blades, mysterious foams that somehow melted our hair: Oh, my. While some of us spent a confusing couple of weeks figuring out how to shave our leg hairs without looking like we just lost a war, others went straight for the obvious game-changer: The eyebrows. And the more Pamela Anderson-esque, the better.
Whether you decided to dye your hair, try on revealing clothing, or begin to dabble with makeup and hair trends, it's hilarious to look back and see how we tried to hurry up and grow up.
Images: Disney (5); Jive Records (1); Paramount (1); Amazon (1); Capitol (1); Dualstar (2)