If you’re like me, you’ve probably misspent the majority of your youth dabbling in a variety of illegal substances. You also probably justified allowing an acne-ridden boy to stick it in multiple orifices of your body, because as long as it wasn’t the vagina, it wasn’t really sex. You also probably told everyone you went to prom stag because you didn’t want to be tied down, when in reality, it was because no one asked you.
My point is, I once had a lot in common with most of you; that is, if most of you happen to be angry adolescent girls with a grudge against authority and a penchant for not showering for several days at a time (not as any nod towards conserving water or saving the environment, but simply because you’re lazy). Also because, let’s be honest, at some point we’ve both shoplifted something. All teenage girls do.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, shoplifting is wrong. But then again, so is being sexual attracted to all five underage members of the boy band One Direction, but that certainly hasn’t stopped me. The need to shoplift is built into all teenage girls the same way the need to rebel against their mother is, or the desire to wear overalls with one of the straps undone is (it was the early 2000s, okay!). But why does this need exist? I asked myself this question one day (when I probably should’ve been showering or at least putting on pants) and I came up with a few reasons.
The Thrill (!!!)
Contrary to what I expected, my teen years were not at all like Dawson’s Creek, or The OC, or Gossip Girls. I’m not really sure what kids are watching these days, but chances are, your life is not at all like how they portray it on television. Because of this, we feel the need to create drama, or some type of thrill that makes us feel more important than we really are. Some people turn to drugs; white adolescent girls in the suburbs turn to shoplifting (or an eating disorder, but that’s another article entirely).
After the realization that Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t coming for me sank in, my life felt empty. (I’m talking about Titanic-Leo, not current, slightly bloated-Leo. Although, don’t get me wrong, I’d still hit that.) Therefore, I had to find something to fill that void. That’s where stealing candy came in. Naturally, as a chubby pubescent, five-fingering chocolate seemed like the route to start.
Pretty soon, I was hooked. Not just on the candy (who wouldn’t be?), but the thrill of shoplifting it. Adrenaline would course through my body as I grabbed a Three Musketeers bar, slid it into my pocket, and made my way to the exit as unassumingly as possible. Would this be the time I got caught? Would I make it out unscathed? WOULD THE CHOCOLATE MELT IN MY POCKET BEFORE I GOT A CHANCE TO EAT IT?? These were all important questions I asked myself.
Another reason why teenage girls steal is simply because they’re bored. As I said, life is not at all as it appears on television. I mean, yeah, there are the football games and the dances and the house parties (or so I’m told, I wasn’t really popular enough to be invited to these things), but there’s also a lot of in-between time when not much happens, which leads to complete and total boredom. I once stole a Power Rangers watch from the United Dairy Farmers ice cream shop down the street from my house. Why a Power Rangers watch? you ask. Because it was there and I was bored enough to see if I could get away with it.*
I think we all know that having too much free time on our hands often leads to poor decision making. For example, 90% of my romantic relationships were the result of simply wanting someone else to be bored with. Too much free time equals poor life choices. I’m pretty sure it was this same formula that contributed to the Glitter screenplay being written.
*I didn’t get away with it, by the way. My mom found the watch and made me return it and apologize to the old lady behind the counter. I cried and the lady felt so bad, she gave me free ice cream. So really, I guess it was a win-win situation, because the chubby girl of my youth much preferred dairy products over a good accessory. My, how things change.
Finally, and most obviously, greed is a big factor in why teenage girls shoplift. You always want what you can’t have, so why not steal it. Lindsay Lohan does it with fur coats and Angelina Jolie does it with men—it’s really not that big a deal. Being an adolescent girl is hard enough, what with the periods and the boobs and the hair in new places. Who has time to worry about actually paying for things? When a new pair of shoes calls to you, you don’t wait around to earn the money, get the check, cash the check, and then buy the shoes. No. You put that pair of shoes in your Jansport backpack and do your best to look inconspicuous as you saunter out of your local Target.
As a teen, it’s essential that you look cool and hip, otherwise you end up sitting in the bathroom during lunch and hanging out with the school librarian because you have no friends and no one else to talk to. Or so I’m told, anyway. Sometimes parents don’t understand the importance of keeping up with the latest trends, or why it’s perfectly reasonable why you need a $200 purse. Enter shoplifting. It makes perfect sense and you’re ultimately saving your parents hundreds of dollars. It’s almost charity, really.
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Now, most of you are probably wondering if I still shoplift. No, I don’t. First off, I earn enough money to buy the things I want—and I’ve realized that if I don’t have the money for it, I don’t really need it. Second, once you’re 18, it’s a lot harder to get out of a conviction if you’re caught (only if you’re a real person though; if you’re a celebrity, you’re fine). So no, I will never shoplift again (unless I get famous, then I’m Winona Ryder-ing my way through life). I don’t, however, condemn teenage girls from shoplifting, because I believe it’s a perfectly natural way of growing and maturing. Also, how else are you supposed to get those Lucky jeans? Or that silver bracelet? Or that Kit Kat bar?