USA National Preteen 2017, Gabriela Norwood, competes during the Runway competition at the 2017 USA National Miss Pageant. Photo: Amanda Ferguson Photography
Middle school is.....weird. You are too young to be a kid but still not old enough to experience the milestones that come with your teenage years. It is a transition period in life where you are starting to learn about yourself and who you will become. Oh, and puberty is a thing... As you walk the halls between class periods, clutching your textbook to your chest in an attempt to hide your awkwardly long arms, you observe swarms of preteens scurrying together between classes.
There are whispers of gossip, laughing and more than a few hormones flying around. Watching this controlled chaos, you may find yourself asking where you fit in. Part of the reason why middle school is so weird is that it is a period of constant change. There is a natural insecurity that comes with change. Change means losing the security blanket of being a child and taking on responsibility and challenges that will prepare you later in life. (Read: How to be a Confident Woman) We want you to feel your best even when going through such an awkward time, so we've made a list of a few pieces of advice to help you thrive in your middle school years.
Create a hygiene routine
Puberty does many strange things to your body. One of those includes going to bed with perfect skin one night and waking up with an oily, pimple-covered mess the next morning. Admittedly, it is terrible and seems like the end of the world when it first happens. However, this is the perfect opportunity for experimentation. One of the best things you can do for yourself is taking care of your skin. There are a lot of really cool products for skin care that you can start to use! Generally, a solid skincare routine to control pimples and shine includes a cleanser, a toner and a moisturizer. A cleanser washes and removes the grime from your face. A toner balances the skin while a moisture hydrates and softens. (Read: How To Establish A Skin Care Routine)
If you find the hormones had a party on your face, causing oil and pimples galore, you will want to look for a foaming liquid cleanser like Simple Kind to Skin Foaming Facial Cleanser. Foaming cleansers break down dirt so they can penetrate deep into pores and remove all the gunk left from the school day. This one has no artificial dyes or perfumes, plus it is packed with vitamins. Also, it is super cheap, so you may be able to slip it in the shopping cart. Toners are used mainly to calm the skin after washing. As a preteen with young skin, you do not want to use anything too harsh.
Neutrogena Alcohol-Free Toner is great for all skin types and is super gentle. Plus, it is super affordable. (Read: 10 Summer Products for Pageant Girls with Oily Skin)
Moisturizers are the finishing touch to every skincare routine. A moisturizer with SPF, like Cetaphil Fragrance-Free Daily Face Moisturizer, is ideal for young skin. The SPF will protect you from the sun's harmful rays that can cause skin cancer later in life. The most important components of a successful skincare routine are consistency and patience. Unfortunately, acne does not disappear overnight. There is no quick fix. It takes consistent use of a skincare routine, generally twice daily, to see results. (Read: 10 Ways to Beautify Your Skin with Natural Remedies)
Of course, there are other aspects to hygiene, like showering every day, applying deodorant and wearing clean clothes. It may seem like common sense, but by not doing these things you are neglecting yourself, which is the worst way to sabotage your own self-confidence. Establish these habits now because they will benefit you long into adulthood.
Miss Junior High School America 2017 Kennedy Whetzel with makeup artist and California High School America Pageant Director Kara Knudsen.
Find your style
By now, you have at least some say in your wardrobe. Clothing is an amazing form an expression. Experimenting with different looks and trends is a pathway for finding who you are. However, to avoid becoming those cringe-worthy middle school pictures in my mother's photo album, experiment with one trend at a time. One of the most common fashion mistakes is wearing too many trends in one look. It becomes overwhelming and the eye does not know where to look. (Read: Top 10 Preteen Fun Fashions of 2017)
If you attend a middle school that requires uniforms, you can still express yourself through accessories! A unique backpack, statement jewelry or shoes provide the perfect opportunity for you to experiment with your look.
Preteen Miss Princess of America 2017, Faith Moise. Photo: Brooke Juda
Experience, not appearance
While taking care of yourself physically is important, appearance is not everything. As editing software has become more advanced, the ability to completely change a person's features has become nothing more than a few clicks of a mouse. The standard of beauty set forth by the fashion industry is ridiculous. In addition, the definition of beauty varies from person to person, making it impossible to please everyone. With that being said, focus your energy on accomplishing more stable goals that have long-term benefits. For example, you could join the soccer team and score a big goal in a match. You could also set academic goals like earning straight A's for the entire year. These goals, once achieved, will give you a sense of pride and boost your self-confidence. (Read: How To Turn Your Passion Into A Successful Pageant Platform)
International Junior Miss Preteen 2017 Fallon Farr and International Junior Miss Princess 2017 Ava Colindres at New York Fashion Week. Photo: International Junior Miss
Now it is very easy for me to sit here as an adult and tell you to just not to succumbed to peer pressure. Ignore it, your real friends would not make you do something like that, etc. But you know what, it is really easy to say that when you have a job, a car and pay your own bills. When you are put in situations facing peer pressure, you do not think long term. You are thinking in the moment and, in that moment, it is really hard to say no. You just want to fit in and be accepted. It is completely natural. However, there is a sense of accomplishment you feel when you refuse to give into peer pressure. It is a feeling of sureness in what you believe in and your own individuality. It is one of the best confidence boosters ever. (Read: Are Your Pageant Friends Helping or Hurting Your Chance of Winning?)
Miss Junior High School America 2017, Kennedy Whetzel, poses with 2018 state titleholders at the photo booth during the Sherri Hill/Henri's/Miss High School America party. Photo: Miss Junior High School America
Middle school is an odd time for us all. There are many unique changes happening during this time, but we know you can and will get through them. How do you or did you stay confident while you were in middle school? Comment below!
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