We Asked a Teen About Shaving, Dating and Being Yourself in High School
UK-born Alice Wade, age 16, is trying to teach herself how to code. She wants to make films about food activism, global warming and feminism. She’s already got a head start in the movie-making department: check out her YouTube channel, where she concepts, creates and edits all that you see. Know what else is cool? She’s holding a mock march around her school in England because she won’t be able to attend January’s Million Women March in Washington, D.C. “All the younger years are going to carry ‘Pussy Grabs Back’ signs whilst singing along to the Menstrual Cramps,” she told me in MR’s third Ask a Teen Interview. “I can’t wait.”
No worries if you’ve never heard of the Menstrual Cramps; I hadn’t either. That’s why this column exists. And to meet the cool-ass young women of our future.
Hi Alice! Tell me about yourself.
My parents live in Miami, but we’re British. I was born just outside of London, then we moved to Australia, then to Singapore, then Miami. I currently go to a tiny boarding school in England which is basically a nunnery. The only boys in my life are Ben and Jerry.
Wow, all over.
Yeah, we move a lot. It’s hard for me to say where I’m from. I don’t feel British because I’m like a citizen of the world. I guess that sounds a bit naff. I’ve picked up certain things from all the places I’ve been to. In Asia it was spicy foods, and I had this amazing teacher who was into filmmaking. That’s how I got into it.
What’s that like with making/keeping friends?
Every time we move I have to make completely new friends and start all over again. It’s quite fun; you get to change yourself every time you move. But it’s really hard to stay in touch. I follow all of these people on Instagram but it makes me feel left out, so I feel like I have to distance myself. It’s strange. Social media should make you feel way closer, but it does the opposite.
Instagram is a cool platform for young people to share their ideas, but it’s terrifying. I think young people secretly scared of it. I went to a lecture where the speaker said that by the time my age turns 80, we’ll have spent 20 years of our lives on our phone.
That’s crazy. You made a really cool Instagram video for this “Ask a Teen” contest — we were blown away by it. And you mentioned filmmaking earlier.
I have a twin, and she and I make quirky videos where we take things that are boring and make them wacky.
On Instagram I made a video about cutting off my hair. When I cut it off, I kept the pony tail because I knew it would come in handy —
You kept the ponytail?
Yes. It’s in Miami now. It’s quite gross. So I stuck googly eyes on it for this Instagram competition and it won. Every week they do these competitions and I won, and suddenly thousands of people swarmed my Instagram account. It was crazy.
Tell me more about cutting your hair off!
Hair is this great thing that you shouldn’t be afraid to mess around with. When I was thirteen, I cut my hair into a pixie. Everyone thought I was in a crisis, but I wasn’t. I was just fed up with girls at my school looking exactly the same. I also stopped shaving when I was 15. It was about deprogramming myself from everything. It’s just hair at the end of the day, but we don’t talk about it. Even in shaving ads, they don’t shave anything. They shave skin. It’s so weird.
I’m a bit of cliche to be honest.
Everyone wears black puffer coats and black skinny jeans and Adidas at my school, desperately trying to fit this mold because they’re afraid of standing out. My twin and I wear the craziest things. Sometimes we get it really wrong. But you should experiment when you’re young.
You’re not a cliche. What’s your ideal outfit, even if it doesn’t exist in your closet?
[Groans] I knew you were going to ask this. A big faux pink fur jacket. Bright so that I can stand out. Faux, because I’m vegetarian. Obviously. With the shaving thing. [Laughs]
I have big feet — they’re like flippers. I’d want to find a pair of big, furry clogs. Normally I have to get men’s shoes or order online. And a slip dress. And loads of jewelry. Big hoop earrings. Sounds horrendous.
What’s it like being a twin?
It’s intense. It’s a strange thing because you have such a tight bond. I call my twin my wombmate. What’s hard is being the same gender at the same school. We’re always being compared to one another even though we look nothing alike, and we’re a package deal. If one of us gets invited somewhere, the other person has to be invited, too. Teachers call us “Twades,” as in “twin Wades.” That can be hard, trying to figure out who you are when you’re a part of someone else.
What’s the dating scene like at your school?
I go to an all-girls school. It’s fun and you don’t have to wear makeup or put on this front or care if people see you looking gross. But if you see boys, you don’t know what to do. They’re these alien creatures when you’re in an all-girl schools school. The only male around is the tennis coach. It’s great, but it’s a bit of a bubble. I have friends who are dating — they meet their boyfriends through socials with other schools. But I am not dating anyone. It’s weird, you know, you watch all of these coming-of-age films and they’re all dating when they’re 15 or 16 and so we think it’s normal. There’s definitely a pressure. When you hit 16 it’s like, “Go.”
How do you stay true to yourself in high school? I remember that that can be hard.
You have to separate who you want to be and who others want you to be. You have to prioritize things like dressing for yourself. It’s way easier said than done. Something like cutting your hair, it seems like such a menial thing, but I think it signifies…strength.
With Instagram and influences like Petra Collins and Tavi, it’s easier to dress for yourself. Amandla Stenberg inspires me to not care about what others think, and that trickles down to the way I dress and wear my hair. It’s all about attitude and “screw it, I’m a teenager, I’m going to experiment.”
You have to surround yourself with other people who feel the same way. Then it’s easier. You’re all looking like freaks together and that’s fine. You’re part of a gang. There’s this feminist band called The Menstrual Cramps, they have this hit song called “My Bush Aint Your Business” — just find people who want to sing “My Bush Aint Your Business” with you.
What do you wish adults would ask you?
“What do you think?” We’re not asked that enough about important issues. Adults are so fascinated about their own thoughts. I rarely get asked, “What do you think about this? What would you do in this situation?” When they’re generally interested, that’s a good feeling.
We pop out like a little spark into the world. We’re rebellious and unsatisfied with the world. Teenagers are really good vessels to articulate emotions because they feel things in such deep ways. My love for Ryan Gosling runs deep. But as we get older, our little fires die down as our priorities shift to money and we begin to settle. And that’s the problem. We need to retain our angst and frustration because when we get into positions of power, we’ll have global warming on the top of our to-do list, underlined three times.
I guess that’s why social media is powerful, right? Everyone has a voice now.
Everyone has a voice. But not everyone has a ear.
What are you most excited for? (In regards to absolutely anything?)
Tomorrow I’m sculpting a massive army of pregnant women out of jelly. It’s gonna be epic.