You are the captain of your ship

When I was young, I decided I was going to wear dresses exclusively. I was in third grade, and obsessed with American Girl dolls* and Little House on the Prairie. I need to fact check this with my mom, but I'm pretty sure I told her at the time that I'd like to be Amish because they only wear dresses? The point is, I loved dresses.

*Molly forever.

My brother was a year older (still is), and the boys in his grade started making fun of me by calling me "dress girl." While that is an offensively uninventive taunt, it's also pretty harmless as far as insults go. Still, I was mortified. That was the first time I made the connection that standing out and/or drawing attention to myself = humiliating.


I've been spending my whole life working to reverse this mindset (a social anxiety diagnosis and corresponding medication sure helped!), but it's still there. And sometimes my desire to ~*be myself*~ is at odds with my pathological need to blend in. It's either: Listen to the voice cheering "just do the thing!" or the one screaming "whatever you do, don't draw attention!!!!"

I was planning to post pictures of my favorite issue of Teen People—Dec/Jan 2000, the second annual style issue—on Instagram this week. But my photos didn't really capture the magnificence of the magazine, so I decided to film a short video instead.

This was a somewhat rash decision that was heavily influenced by the fact that I was home sick, hyped up on DayQuil, and hadn't spoken to anyone except my dog all day.

I'm deeply uncomfortable in front of the camera, which makes me feel like a very bad millennial. I don't know my angles; I only know I'm supposed to know them because of that Drake song.

Putting yourself out there on the internet in the world is simultaneously feeling totally naked, and then feeling like an idiot that anyone would even care that you're naked. You know? Being a woman dealing with social media and vanity and ego and ALSO camera angles is hard.

I came across this old editor's letter of Atoosa's at a time when I needed it most...both in 2004, and now. She may have written it in a pre-selfie era, but it's still incredibly relevant today.