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GIRLS: PORTRAIT OF CHANGE // Jennifer

Jennifer Reed, age 13, eighth grader at Tyrone Middle School in St. Petersburg. Family: Mother, Angela Allen, 36; brother, Dezon Reed, 14; father, Dezon Reed Sr., lives in Chicago

I'm beautiful. I'm fine. I've got pretty-color hair. I've got a pretty shape. I don't have big feet.

I think I'm a good friend. I have a good heart. I'm kind of silly. People just like me _ I don't know why. I just make people laugh.

I've got a lot of little cliques at my school but I've got two best friends, named Khalilah and Nefertiti. They're in eighth grade. She doesn't like Khalilah, so we call her Khalia. I like to go to the mall. I like to go to the movies. I like going roller-skating.

My grades are important. I got honor rolls. What I have in school really reflects what I get to get in life. I get more privileges. I want to be a cosmetologist or I want to be a juvenile judge. I like gym and technology and math. All the rest are stupid but I have to do 'em and make good grades.

I like running track. I can run fast. I'm doing cheerleading. I cheer for volleyball and basketball. And then I'm going to run track.

I'm really active. Me and my friend Nefertiti, we like to run and jump and all this other stuff. She's kind of mad because she's the only one in her (gym) class who likes to get up and do things. Everybody else is trying to look pretty for the ugly boys. But they (the boys) aren't even worrying about it. They go and they're out there playing basketball and football. The boys aren't even looking at them. They're into their game instead of staring at girls. Why should I sit up there and try to look nice when nobody's looking at me anyway? When you do it (play), it's more fun. You get to know (boys) better, so they become your friends. Instead of sitting up there looking stupid. Hmmmphh . . . People!

My dad lives in Chicago, since we were younger. In the summer we go up to Chicago and stay with him.

(My brother, Dezon), sometimes we sit down and talk. He tells me about what he does in school, what you have to look for, about the teachers. He ain't that old, so I can still beat him up.

My mom, she's like a friend. I can talk to her about anything, unless it's something that I did wrong that I will get in trouble. Most kids won't tell their mom stuff like that. We have a lot of conversations about different things that I need to know and she tells me. She's not afraid to tell me.

(Some adults), they don't listen to you. You will be trying to talk to them, but you want to have eye-to-eye contact. You'll be like, nevermind.

Last year was like gangs and stuff (at school). A lot of people had to be expelled for bringing drugs or something. Nothing has happened this year. Sometimes last year you didn't want to wear certain colors because people would think you're with the Crips or you're with the Bloods if you'd wear all red or all blue. Now you can't bring bandanas showing any colors.

I think I look fine just the way I am.

"I dress nice every day," Jennifer says. "But I don't want to hang out with people who all they look at is your clothes. There's a clique where all the people wear nice clothes (at school) . . . but most of them are ugly people, ugly and mean."

Angela Allen, left, and daughter Jennifer both say their relationship is very close. "She likes to play around," Jennifer says of her mom. "She's fun to be with."

On the first Sunday of the month, the girls in the Young Disciples group of Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church wear white dresses. "I pray every night," Jennifer says, "and I go to church most every Sunday."

Jennifer tries on clothes with friend Khalilah Clark at one of their favorite stores, the Body Shop, at Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg.

In Jennifer's bedroom, she and cousin Natasha Allen goof around.

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