Charmaine shot by Chloe Nour for our Catalogue Girl series. At school my uniform was full-limb length. Our bodies were covered from wrist to ankle. The classroom in which we studied Home Economics — the essential guide to being a wife — was decorated with pictures of what students had worn before us. We were still as formless and severe. Even as we turned 16 and could legally have sex, the uniform stayed the same, holding us in the same place. Jumpers were lumpy and woollen, shrinking in the rain, giving off the aroma of wet fur.
Every item we wore was a different, childish shade of sky blue. Dulled by its own layered saturation. The highly sellable blend of female youth and sex is everywhere permissible, except for those who are female, young and sexual. What did I want as a teenager?
The same thing that I want as an adult. To be the same as the other, good women, but also special, different, maybe a little bit better. I wanted to be having sex and be as far away from sex as possible. Sex is your shadow the moment you get your first period and from then on you decide that, quite possibly, there are only two types of people in the world: Shoved down the moment you sense it start to tingle.
Now, the same story has emerged again, this time in Christchurch. Funny that we treat female teenagedom as a phase that is transitioned out of, when really, at least to me, it is the thing that sticks.
As a teen, my sexuality was never burgeoning, it was full-on and immediate. Scientific talk of hormones and dropping eggs ran in the opposite direction to what I felt. My insides were exploding.
I was Molly Shannon in Superstar , kissing a tree when there was no one else worth kissing. The one our current teenage girls can grow into has the potential to be so much brighter, freer and healthier.