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Gina Pia Cooper: When we chatted the other day, we talked about young women who have eating disorders, and about the insecurities young women experience. We talked about physical appearance, and the choices they're going to make for their careers and their lives. What do you feel is the best way a young woman can empower herself so she need not go through the pain?

Aleksa Palladino: God, I think it's a mixture of so much. I think that parents don't really understand what it is to raise their children any more.

Gina Pia Cooper: And why do you think that is?

Aleksa Palladino: Well, I don't know. There's so many reasons.

Gina Pia Cooper: Do you think it has something to do with the world being very different from when they grew up?

Aleksa Palladino: No, I don't. I think that to me sounds like an excuse. I don't know, you know? I haven't raised a kid yet. But to me, that sort of sounds like a copout. Because, yes, you know, the music is different, or your kids are doing drugs and having sex a little bit younger, but it's still the same shit you know. Kids are still going through the same shit you did, and maybe it's, you know, two years younger or whatever.

I don't really think people are looking forward to being parents as much as they should. Is that fair to say? I donít know. But it's kind of like the chicken or the egg. Is it that parents are raised in a sort of hands off way themselves, and then they do that to their own children? Or is it that their own parents were too strict, so they want to give their kids more freedom, and inevitably, you know, the kid comes out like wishing it had its parents' attention? Itís kind of like no matter what you do, youíre kid's going to at some point wish you did something different. But it is so important, I think, for parents to just be there for their kids. If a kid slams a door in your face, you fucking tear that door down! You don't give up and like sit in the living room and whimper.

Gina Pia Cooper: And so how one can feel more empowered at that critical age?

Aleksa Palladino: I think a lot of that has to start with the family at some point. A few years ago, I would have thought that this was complete bullshit, you know? Like when I was like a teenager, really into all the stupid shit. I thought it was bullshit too.

But it really does start from the family. If a kid feels like they have something that they belong to, or at least some place that they don't have to pretend that they're something else, or be ashamed of who they really are, then that's at least the beginning of a strong individual.

So often, people are just kind of waiting for their kid to flip out and do something wrong. And then, you know, lecture it or punish it, or scream at it, or hit it. That's not a process of learning.

So I think a lot of kids just wind up being in the dark. By the time you're a teenager, you think you know everything. To you, you do know everything. But what you really need is the very simple sort of tools to beat the self-esteem issues, to beat the peer pressure. Because everyone's going to be subjected to it, or victimized by it, for a little while. I don't even like the word victimize. Scratch that. But like ....

Gina Pia Cooper: Exposed ....

Aleksa Palladino: ... you're going to be exposed to it, exactly. And chances are, you're going to fall into it. But it's how far, you know? And I think that it's kind of unrealistic to say that kids won't be doing drugs, that kids won't having sex, that kids won't be bulemic or anorexic, or wish that they were something else.

So much of the teenage experience is trying to kill yourself slowly. And they know it as living. Yeah, I'm going to live, yeah, okay.

I do think that no matter what kids think, that they're asking for attention when they do stuff like that. Because you sort of feel like, okay, I'm an adult when you're like fifteen. You think you have your shit together, and you can take care of yourself, but you feel a sort of falseness, a false sense of empowerment.

But really what I think people are afraid of is, that, you know, okay, I'm fifteen, but I still feel like I'm five sometimes, and like I still want my Mommy sometimes. And like, how do I say that? How am I going to like say that? So instead, I'm going to really fuck myself up, so my Mom has to take care of me.

Pants by Tunji Dada NYC.

Gina Pia Cooper: And let's say someone isn't lucky enough to have the family in place, where you at least have the grounding at home, even though you're exposed to whatever it is you're exposed to. And I think this is true for a lot of young people. What do you think is a way of trying to muster up the resources in one's self, without the backing or the safety net of a stable home life, to sustain yourself through the hard times, and not lose your self esteem, and then get through as a whole individual into your early twenties?

Aleksa Palladino: Right. I mean, my home life definitely wasn't stable. My mom traveled a lot, so that I didn't really like live with her too often. I grew up with my grandparents essentially.

So I think that the thing that really saved me, that was sort of an outside influence, aside from whatever I could get from family, was for me art. Music, and film, and just art, you know. Having some way to express yourself. Having some way to sort of make sense with what you have.

And all of your confusion, and all of your anger -- really pain essentially, you sort of just try to learn from people. You learn from people that you've never met, like Bob Dylan to me has taught me some of the most valuable lessons. And I've never met the guy.

It doesn't have to be a first hand thing. I think that there's always something different that sort of touches someone, and gives them some sort of strength to be who they are.

If you have some sort of hobby, where you are expressing how you feel. It's just being always on some level in touch with what you're going through. And not completely blocking that out. If it has to be like in your room at night, with the lights out, where you just sit and like really think about what's going on, and maybe you even cry to yourself, then that's fine. But people have to like not shut that shit out, because that just kills, you know.

Gina Pia Cooper: It won't stay down.

Aleksa Palladino: Oh no.

Gina Pia Cooper: You will be dealing with it later.

Aleksa Palladino: It won't stay down, and even worse, it'll show itself in everything you do. And you won't even remember how you got there. It's just hard. Like growing up is hard. And it doesn't get easier. I just moved out of my Mom's house this past summer. And like it's hard. And it was totally my decision. I wanted to move out, and get my bills paid on time, and stuff like that. You definitely feel closure on the only life you've known thus far. And that's like very sad and very beautiful all at the same time.

Leather Pants by Carla Dawn Behrle.

Stylist: Kathy Martinez

Makeup Artist: Mikio Kawashima. 212-222-0855

Hair Stylist: Leor Asuline.

Copyright 2000 Cooper Multimedia
All rights reserved.
Where to find the clothes credited:

Tunji Dada NYC is available at Clutch USA, 678 Broadway, 2nd Floor, NYC. 212-353-1999.
Patricia Michaels 505-751-1536.  Read Fashion Finds' article on Patricia Michaels by clicking here.
Carla Dawn Behrle, 89 Franklin St., NYC. 212-334-5522.  Read Fashion Finds' article on Behrle leather by clicking here.

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