Fourteen-year-old Matty Jobarteh, from Hyde Park, thinks someone’s appearance makes an impression but personality keeps it going. “If someone looks pretty, people are going to make them memorable but if the person is arrogant and irritating, it doesn’t make any sense,” says Jobarteh. Even though we all want to look good and are attracted to physical beauty, many teens say that personality is the more important asset. Someone with great features may turn heads in a crowded room, but, teens say, it’s those whose personalities draw us to them who will win our deep affection and esteem. Lansana Fofana, 15, from Dorchester, thinks physical appearance is a very shallow thing. “For example, someone can get into a terrible accident and destroy their looks and also people grow old – their good looks start to vanish,” says Fofana. “What is left? Personality.” Bintou Conte, 16, from Mattapan, believes that looks do matter at some point because if you’re going to marry somebody, appearance counts. On the other hand, she says: “Those who have the best personalities are the winners in life.”
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Kianah Moss, 14, from the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, often sees dispatches about perfect relationships on her Instagram feed. “I believe that those kinds of posts are real,” says Moss. “When I am in a relationship I want something like that to happen to me. However, I do not expect it to happen.” Some teens feel that social media pressures them to live up to a certain storybook standardin their relationships. A few of the popular sites that feed the images are Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook. Kharliyah Ortiz, 14, from the O’Bryant, has Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram apps on her mobile phone. “I go on social media every day,” she says. Ortiz figures that about 25 percent of the time she is on Twitter she sees tweets about perfect relationships. Still, she says she’s never felt the need to meet somebody else’s expectations. “I don’t want a boyfriend that does what a picture on social media does or says,” says Ortiz. “I just want a relationship that will have both mates be able to work with what we have and not live up to what the Internet says.” A popular picture trending on Twitter showed a text message a boy had sent to his girlfriend containing a Victoria’s Secret bag outside her door. Meryl Bantefa, 14, said she does not want to live such a fantasy life. “I don’t want a relationship where my boyfriend has to buy clothing for me before we go out on a date,” says Bentefa, who attends the O’Bryant. “I do not expect anything like that to happen to me because it isn’t real.
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Julia Malita, 16, from Boston Latin Academy, lost her great grandmother a few years back. This death was prepared for; the great grandmother was 107 years old. Knowing that she’d die, the great grandmother asked her family to wear colorful clothes to her funeral. Of course, no one did. This was Malita’s first funeral and recalling seeing her great grandmother in the casket, she says, “I remember she looked like an angel. I know that sounds corny.” Now that the time has passed, Malita has moved on. She takes comfort in knowing that her great grandmother is in heaven and is still alive in memory. Grief: Intense sorrow caused by loss of a loved one. It’s the stress that comes with death that gets to teens. There are many ways of dealing with loss, and one of the best ways is to just release it, specialists say. It’s never good to keep things trapped inside, they say. Sometimes, just crying is the best way to get over death, teens say. Pamela De Jesus, 14, from Boston Community Leadership Academy, hasn’t lost anyone close to her. She believes that when you die, you just die. “Death isn’t good because you could lose someone loved or have feelings for,” she says. “I thank God that hasn’t happened to me personally.” Jeff Hines, 18, from Dorchester, lost his cousin to cancer last summer and isn’t over the death yet. He continues to think about him. “It’s been really hard but getting better,” says Hines. “I loved him.”
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Cesilia Bwahama, 15, says she has never been insecure about her dark skin. She believes many teenagers prefer lighter skin because of pressure from society and from peers. “Features are what make people attractive, not shade or color,” says Bwahama, from Brighton High School. The idea that light skin is superior to dark skin has been around for years, and, for example, was used to divide people of color during slavery. Today, many teens of color are insecure about their skin, some even refusing to date people with darker tones. Emyliana Rivera, 16 , says she’s always been comfortable with her light skin. Although she believes every shade is equal, she has her own theories on why people would think differently. She thinks people are too influenced by images promoted by the media. “The media almost never includes dark-skinned people and very uncommonly advertises them as beautiful figures,” says Rivera, from McKinley Preparatory High School. Anna Ngyuen, 14, feels teens also learn from their parents to favor the lighter-skinned. “You are born loving every kind,” says Nguyen, from English High School, “and die loving a few.”
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Audreyana Washington, 15, of the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, says she spends about eight hours a day on her smartphone, checking social media websites and reading. “My phone is interesting and it keeps me connected to the world,” says Washington. In 2009, teens spent an average of two hours and 15 minutes on their cellphones, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study. But some of today’s teens more than double that. It can depend on whether they have Internet, cable, or a smartphone. Fifteen-year-old Jasmine Cruz, from West Roxbury Academy, says she’s on her phone some 10 hours a day, browsing social networks and playing the game Candy Crush. “I use my phone a lot,” says Cruz, “because it’s easier and faster than the computer.” Nautica Mosby, from the Harbor School, says she uses her smartphone about four hours a day. Mosby, 16, says she does not have a television in her bedroom, nor the Internet at her house. She uses her phone to play games, watch videos, read, and go on Instagram. Mosby says she limits the time on her phone. “It’s boring and I get tired of it,” she says. She prefers, she says, to draw and write.
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