Lessons learned from a 13 year old


It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to talk with a 13-year-old girl. Despite being the mother of someone who was once 13, it was a bit unsettling for me. Why? Because there were so many things I wanted to tell and teach her but I realized she had to learn these on her own.

For instance, I wanted to tell this 13 year old that in 10 years, the bullying won’t matter anymore. But I couldn’t do that. This is her story.

Ammilyn Dieta, a 13 year old from California, models, acts and dances. Next year, she hopes to join a beauty pageant.

Like many 13 year olds, Ammilyn Dieta has had her share of bullying, self-doubt and crumbling under pressure. It’s been tough, said the young model, dancer, singer and aspiring actress. “When people at school learned that I model, they ask, ‘Why aren’t you wearing makeup? Why are you wearing ordinary clothes?’” said Ammilyn, who lives in California with her Filipino parents.

“It’s just school. I look at makeup as a form of art. Obviously, I wouldn’t wear it to school.”

Ammilyn had ballet and tap dancing lessons for nine years. She’s had acting lessons, too. She likes singing, which isn’t a big surprise because her father is a music fan and her uncle (her mom Amelia’s brother) sings in a band.

Ammilyn jokingly says her father Steve is “stuck in the 1980s” but attributes her love of music to him.

I asked Ammilyn what problems a young girl like her faces these days and bullying is No. 1, which isn’t very surprising.

But more than that, the pressure of being a straight A student got to her.

“I always want to do well in school but I also have other activities, like dancing and modeling, so it’s tough,” said Ammilyn, who visited the Philippines recently.

She began ramp modeling through the sponsorship of Kids Dream Design and Miss Philippines USA, both Los Angeles-based. She has already participated twice in a Fashion for a Cause occasion held annually in LA.

She also dances and wants to act. She also sings, citing Michael Jackson as one of her favorites.  Being in the Philippines was therapeutic for her. Seeing relatives and being at family gatherings reminded Ammilyn of how therapeutic it was to be with family.

“She’s a brave girl because she’s not ashamed of telling people of her emotional struggles being a teenager in the 21st century. I can say she is getting better through regular self-therapy, coupled with the love and support of her family and friends. She also wants other people to learn from her own story,” Ammilyn’s mom Amelia said. I went into the interview expecting to meet a 13 year old so full of herself and her problems and issues. As I’ve mentioned, it’s been a long time since I talked to one. Instead, I meet someone very level headed, a young person who could teach me a thing or two.

Ammilyn tells me what her dreams and aspirations are.

“I want to continue modeling. I want to act and play volleyball. I want to study psychology or anything science related,” she said.

Ammilyn said she plans to join the Miss Young Philippines pageant next summer, with mental health and nature as her platforms.

I intended to ask Ammilyn about makeup and beauty since she is a model. But she said she usually only wears eyeliner and mascara.

Instead, she tells me about her 16-year-old cousin who is her go-to when she is faced with problems. “She’s always there for me and it’s very easy for me to talk to her because she’s just three years older and she’s been through the same things I have. I appreciate how understanding she is,” Ammilyn said.

I realized I don’t have anything to teach this girl. In fact, she taught me a thing or two.

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