High School

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In high school in California, Rebecca Romijn performed in musicals and was encouraged to try modeling, but she was hesitant. "I didn't think I looked right for it," she says. "I was very gawky, really uncomfortably skinny. I looked like a young colt trying to walk. Or that's how I felt," she says. "My body always hurt from growing too fast, and I had terrible posture. I'd layer my clothes to make myself appear heavier. I just wanted nothing below my neck to exist. I was very insecure. I wanted to be on the swimming team but I was too ashamed to put on a bathing suit in front of the other students."

Original article: Detroit News

Former model and girl-about-town Rebecca Romijn can be seen in the upcoming summer release, X-Men 2, where she plays the blue-bodied Mystique. But let's go back to 1990, when 17-year-old Rebecca was affectionately called "the Jolly Blond Giant."

When I Was 17:
I graduated from Berkeley High in the class of 1990. Berkeley High was like a mini-university. It was huge. There were like 4000 students. It was an open campus so you could leave if you wanted to. You could schedule your own classes, pick your own teachers - if you wanted to do all your classes with your best friend, you could do that. If you wanted to get a great education, there were some amazing programs. Berkeley High had the first African-American Studies department in the country.

When I Was 17:
I took this great class called Social Living, taught by a teacher named Nancy Ruben, which was really intense. It was more than sex ed. She would bring in an AIDS patient who was dying. She would have us write letters to ourselves, and we could post-date them for whenever we wanted them sent to us. So if you wanted them sent to you on your graduation day, she did then, and if you wanted her to do it in ten years, she would do it then. So I did mine for ten years from the date that I wrote it, and I had all my best friends write letters as well, and I put that in the envelope and I got them a couple of years ago. I wish I had been a deeper person at the time. My letters ended up being all inside jokes and gossip. There were some good things in there, like stuff going on in my family and stuff going on at home, and how I felt about things. But for the most part, all the letters that my friends wrote me were just inside jokes that made no sense; I couldn't remember what any of them were based on at all. Our teacher would also bring in a heroin addict who was really, really not doing well at all, to come in and talk to us about the dangers of drug addiction. He would just look like a scary monster. It made everything real for us. It wasn't just a story in a magazine or an image in a movie, it brought it right down to earth, and it was right there in your face. I think that was what Berkeley High was like in a nutshell. It was really multi-ethnic; it was like a good cross-section of the real world there.

When I Was 17:
We didn't have a typical jock crowd. It's not like the football players were the cool ones; I don't think the football team won a game the entire time I was in high school. You weren't cool if you were a cheerleader - at all! From my memory, anyway. I was friends with lots of different types. I sort of bounced around, and I had friends in the "popular crowd" but I was also really in with the drama people. There were amazing jazz musicians that won all sorts of awards all over the country. They would play in San Francisco jazz clubs, and on the weekends I would go and watch them perform.

When I Was 17:
I sprouted. When I started high school, I was relatively average for my height, maybe a little bit shorter. And the ages of sixteen and seventeen, I probably shot up five or six inches. And I had always been flat as a board; I had no boobs to speak of. All of a sudden, I was growing so fast, I got boobs and I didn't know what the hell was going on with my body. I was a late bloomer. I got my period late and everything. Everyone always told me that I was way too skinny so I was really insecure about that. I would wear layers and layers and layers of clothes to pad myself up. I would always tie sweatshirts around my waist to make my butt look bigger. I would ask my friends about what they were doing to diet, and I would do the opposite. Bagels with lots of cream cheese. I was so insecure about my body. And it hurt - I remember being in physical pain a lot because I grew so fast. I remember wanting nothing on my body below my neck to exist, basically.

When I Was 17:
My friends and I would hang out. The Berkeley community theater was at our high school - it was a huge theater with these steps that wrapped all the way around it. So we would hang out on these steps forever, after school, every day. And on the weekends, we used to have a lot of house parties, based on whoever's parents were out of town. I remember the smell of Nacho Doritos combined with beer and Coca-Colas - that combination really reminds me of being seventeen at a party. So gross!

When I Was 17:
I was a pretty good kid. I didn't get into that much trouble, but I did fight with my parents. I was always losing my keys, and I would knock on the door and wake my mom up to come get me - my parents were divorced and lived a few blocks from each other - and she would get so mad at me for waking her up. Finally she was like, OK, next time that happens, don't bother waking me up. And I'm like, Well, what else am I supposed to do? And she's like, I don't know, just don't wake me up. So the next time it happened, I went and slept on the back porch, and my cat slept on top of me to keep me warm. At four in the morning, my mom comes out, furious, saying, "What the hell are you doing back here?" and I was like, "You told me not to wake you up!" And she's like, "I was not serious!"

When I Was 17:
My boyfriend was named Zac, and he was on the crew team. And I just thought that was the coolest thing. I thought the crew guys were the hottest guys. My friend Maya, who also dated a crew guy, and I would go and spend every Saturday morning, at like six in the morning, at their regattas.

When I Was 17:
I had some crazy teachers. The entire Spanish department was insane. One of them had this long blond hair that she would braid and put in a bun, and she would stick garden flowers in it. One day, there was a snail in one of the flowers. It like circled her bun like four times and left a snail trail. I'm serious. Nobody said anything. She was such a weirdo that I think she totally did it on purpose. And then there was another one, who on any given day would proclaim you the worst student he ever had, or the best student he ever had, depending on his mood. It was so confusing; he was like an abusive parent. One time, my friend missed a test, so he let her come in and take it at lunchtime the following day. He told her, "OK, I am going to leave you here to take your test, and I am going to go have my lunch. But don't cheat because I'm going to be on the roof looking at you through the skylight." And she was like, All right, crazy guy! Of course, she ended up looking in her textbook for an answer, and then she heard knocking, and she looked up and there he is, sitting on the skylight, with his bag lunch on his lap, watching her! He would videotape movies in Spanish off his own TV but he didn't know how to set up the VCR properly, so he would videotape them with a camera. Like he would set up a camera on top of a stack of books, and every once in a while you'd see a cat's tail go back and forth in front of the screen. He drove a Yugo, and everyone would make fun of him for it. He'd say, "I will race any one of you to the Panama Canal and back in my Yugo." He totally took it personally.

When I Was 17:
I had three best friends, Susanna, Jennifer and Elizabeth, that I've known since I was really young. And when we were seventeen, we designed a tattoo with all of our initials entwined. We still have it on our ankles.

When I Was 17:
I had a prom dress that was raspberry taffeta with ruffles, long sleeves, a high neck, a low back and shoulder pads. My mom made it. She tells me, "Rebecca, I know you hated that dress, but I made it according to your specifications." I wish I had followed my friends; they all wore little black cocktail dresses. But I wanted to stand out, and I did!

When I Was 17:
I got a clothing allowance of about 35 dollars a month. We didn't have a lot of money and I was a total clothes-horse. I would shop at Army surplus stores and thrift stores, and if I had any extra money, I would shop out of the J. Crew or Tweeds catalogs. I had these bags from the Indian army. I lived in these velvet moccasins from India. They were like two dollars a pair and I bought like fifteen of them. I wore them all throughout high school. I wore a lot of long johns under shorts. Back then, it was all about scrunchies and big hoop earrings.

When I Was 17:
I was a good student. I got a B or B+ average up until I got accepted into UC Santa Cruz. After I got into college, it was like, OK, let's party! School was basically a place to go and meet my friends. The summer after I graduated, Susanna and I went and took a big trip to Europe.

When I Was 17:
I was really into singing. I studied voice privately. I was in the Oakland Youth Chorus, and in chorale in school, and I went to a voice teacher with my friend, Susanna. Several times, he had us go and perform these old standards at a piano bar in San Francisco. I actually went to college as a voice major. After three quarters, I left and moved to Paris and became a model - which was never in my plans, by the way!

When I was 17:
I was politically involved. My friends and I would leave school and join marches protesting the Gulf War. Our school administration totally supported that.

Now:
I'm a Democrat. Hey, I'm from Berkeley! Growing up there, you have a liberal agenda ingrained in you at an early age. It goes with the territory.

When I was 17:
I had this class called Social Living. Once, the teacher had us write down anonymous questions about the opposite sex, and she read them out loud. One question was, "Do girls get turned on by putting in a tampon?" All the girls were like, "No!"

Now:
I totally understand that men are just as clueless about women as women are about men, especially when it comes to sex. There are no "stupid" questions.

When I was 17:
I got really sick from drinking beer the night before Thanksgiving. I spent the night at my friend's house, and the next morning, I did the Walk of Shame home. Then I went straight to bed and pulled the covers over my head. My dad knew exactly what was going on. Every five or 10 minutes he would come in and torture me, saying, "You ready for some turkey? Ready for some gravy?"

Now:
My dad and I can talk about anything. He loves to remind me of the dumb stuff I did!

Original article: Seventeen

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