Sixteen going off seventeen

Nov. 11, 2010, 12:17 p.m. | By Sebastian Medina-Tayac Helen Bowers | 11 years ago

Four days. Three challenges. Two Blazers. Two magazines. One mortifying, scandalous, flirty, awkward, stylish, tedious, allergenic competition. For one week, we wore uncomfortable clothes, put ourselves in uncomfortable situations and made complete fools of ourselves. "Why?" you may ask; because apparently it's "in." Inspired by the popular blog the Seventeen Magazine Project, in which blogger Jamie Keiles lived by the "gospel" of the magazine for a month, Chips staffers Helen and Sebi religiously immersed themselves in the lifestyle mandated by Seventeen and Esquire magazines. In flirting, dating and fashion, we tried, and we survived. But in the end, only one of us was truly magazine-worthy. This is our story.

The pajama day protest

I guess Blair just isn't ready for high class. My day was interrupted with such dialogues

"Dude, Sebi, what's with the fancy clothes?"

"It's Sebastian now. What fancy clothes?"

I shouldn't have been surprised. Esquire magazine's idea of a Monday wardrobe was penny loafers (without socks), a fitted navy blue blazer and slim cut jeans. Turns out it was pajama day, the most comfortable, relaxed, flannel-filled fashion day of the year at Blair, and I stuck out like, well, a guy who wore a blazer on pajama day. "Where's your school spirit? Are you protesting pajama day or something?" asked an interested sophomore in my third period.

"No, it's for a school project, sort of," I deflected.

GQ magazine had a few tips on cologne. I'm a scent guy -I like smelling fresh, and I think it's a big deal to the ladies. Most magazines I've read have agreed, but maybe I overdid it.

"Sebi -" a colleague of mine said.

"-Sebastian," I corrected him.

"You smell like my aunt," he said.

I ended up waking home barefoot due to the discomfort of my loafers. It's hard to be classy. Don't be fooled, ladies; men's fashion is no laughing matter.

Clothing Crusade

My outfits were based on Seventeen's hottest trends: black and white, animal print, army jackets and high-waisted dresses.

Not enthusiastic about spending all my money on a new wardrobe, I skipped off to Value Village, hoping to find fashionable outfits.

Clothes, I thought, wouldn't be too hard; all I had to do was wear them. What I was more concerned about were the high heels that I would have to wear.

Throughout Seventeen Magazine, girls are encouraged to wear high heels with every outfit. After all, high heels dress up an ordinarily dull outfit and give your posture a boost, so I had to give it a try. The first day, I wore one-inch heels that didn't bother me at all.

But the next pair of heels I borrowed, three-inch stilettos, were so unforgiving that my feet started bleeding by eighth period. For the rest of the week I struck a compromise: a pair of knee-high boots with a two-inch heel. They weren't as much of a fashion statement, but they were a lot more manageable.

Man Food

As one who is very interested in the culinary arts, I am frankly appalled at what little faith Men's Health magazine has in male cooking skills. The magazine suggests the "Torta Dog," a revolting bastardization of two classic dishes: the hot dog and the taco.

The recipe is described as a "hit of protein" more satisfying than "carrots dipped in peanut butter." It better be: it's 11:56 p.m., and I'm hungry.

Following the one-step recipe in the magazine, I microwaved a hot dog for 30 seconds, threw it on a tortilla with cheese, bacon, and hot sauce, rolled it up, and nuked it for another 30 seconds.

After what felt like an eon, it was ready. And it was good. Maybe it was the combination of cheese, bacon, beef, and hot sauce (which can't go wrong). But maybe it was something more profound; a small spark of cholesterol ignited inside me a roaring fire of manliness. Before I knew it, a craving I had never felt before had been satisfied.

War paint

After flipping through dozens of Seventeens, I selected my make-up looks for the week. Monday morning I applied the eye shadow for ocean eyes, which is supposed to draw attention to your eyes and make them look mysterious and cool. As I left my house, my eyes were itching quite a lot, which confirmed my fear: I was allergic to eye makeup. For the rest of the day I went around with swollen, red eyes. I did get comments on my new eye-style, but they were more along the lines of, "Hey, what's wrong?" rather than admiration of my new, hip look.

Hurting flirting

How exciting. I had a consequence-free lunch period to flirt with the ladies in my V-neck sweater (which is very "in" these days, according to GQ) - and get graded on it. For the entertainment of my readers, and at the expense of my chance to get any phone numbers, I decided to use one-liners borrowed from Esquire's "Allegedly Clever Pickup Lines" list online. To pull them off, I had to adopt Esquire's suggested cool, confident attitude. No fear. No mercy. No numbers? No problem.

I started with: "I love your shirt! Did you pick it out or do you just have a fashionable boyfriend?" That one failed. I think I may have come across more as wanting to be a platonic gay best friend rather than anything more.

My more successful line was: "The only thing your eyes haven't told me is your name"

Most of my reactions were pity laughs I think, but those lines are pretty cute. An especially successful encounter resulted in a two minute conversation. Maybe she thought I was funny. Maybe I am.

Fall of the flirting empire

Now that I was a Seventeen girl, I was excited to try some flirting tips, and hopefully have guys following me around with jaws dropping and eyes popping out. But the tips failed by a long shot. It would probably be just as effective to tattoo the word ‘desperate' on your forehead than to use the Seventeen pick-up lines. My first tip was to bump into someone and say, "Oh I'm sorry! I'm such a klutz around cute guys!" When I tried this, the boys' eyes narrowed confusion, and mouths dropped open in horror.

The one tip that produced results was writing a flirty note in class. According to Seventeen, you should use a fun colored pen, but nothing too girly, like pink. You should also be very flattering in your note, using cute and flirty lines like, "I love your shirt," and, "You make this class so much less boring." When I tried, "I love your shirt," my new pen-pal wrote back, "Thanks, I will like wearing blue so much more now." Not quite up to par with Shakespeare's sonnets, but at least I got a reaction.

So after all the sweat, blood and make up that went into this contest, only one of us could come out on top: Sebi. He had more success with flirting and fewer complaints about the fashion aspect of the project. But there were some extreme circumstances that prevented Helen from becoming a fashionable femme fatale — not being able to wear make up without swelling, walking around Blair with blisters and bruises on her feet. Fashion and Helen were just not meant to mix, but Sebastian seems to be a born fashion fiend, walking the walk, talking the talk and succeeding in everything almost effortlessly, with the help of GQ and Esquire.

Sebastian Medina-Tayac. More »

Helen Bowers. More »

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