The Problem With Naming Generations

The Problem With Naming Generations

Calling me a "Millennial" can make you hate me without even knowing me.
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There are hundreds of articles titles "Millennials are..." or "Why the Baby Boomers Were the Best Generation." All of them appeal to a specific audience though no more popular than the call to denounce a group because they are 'different' than yourself. As a 21-year-old, I am considered a millennial and I'm proud of that. I grew up with jump ropes and chalk and using my imagination to entertain myself all day. But I also had a GameBoy, I religiously watched Saturday morning cartoons and was familiar with an assortment of other electronics.

Because my birthday falls between 1980-1996, I'm lumped into a group with all other Americans born during this time. I'm considered to be "innovative" and "good with technology" but I'm also "lazy" and "entitled." I'm "disillusioned" because apparently I grew up thinking I was better than everyone else, which makes me stereotyped into specific categories when in actuality I'm of the first generation that is projected to make significantly less than the previous (which includes our parents). Most of the older generations assume I am Democratic and liberal (which to be fair, I am, but that's not because of the year I was born in...). They think that I have no idea what the value of a dollar is and that I'm selfish and only concerned with studying during the week, partying on the weekend.

All of these things that I've pointed out could be true for some people, but they're not restricted to age or 'generation.' They somehow have persisted into our cultural assumptions of people and we use them to limit others, to explain our own actions or failures, and worst of all, we use them divisively. We use them to plainly state: "You are different from me, therefore you are worse that me."

This is a huge problem in our culture because now, as in all previously trying times, we should be thinking less about ourselves as different, and more as the same. The environment is falling apart and very few people care or realize it. The United States has been at war since I was in kindergarten and it has become so normalized that we even forget it's still happening. Minimum wages are not sufficient to support a healthy lifestyle and there doesn't seem to be a good way of solving that issue. We have a presidential candidate who is running his campaign on fear and hate. These are huge issues and instead of uniting us, they are setting us at even more odds.

I recently read an article that talked about "Generation Z," which is composed of young people and children born after 1995. The article described how they are better than Millennials (who have apparently been a part of the workforce 'forever' now when in actuality, I am still in college and have yet to be of legal age to vote in a presidential election...) because they have been born into technological advancements that seem commonplace to them, a culture of acceptance (LGBTQ movements, feminism, etc.) and that they are bursting with untapped potential because they are yet to go to college or enter the workforce. Again, these may be true. But some "Generation Z-ers" are still in elementary school. How is it even possible to tell six-year-olds who have just learned how to read and think for themselves that they embody these characteristics? It isn't.

Instead, labeling differently aged people like this only causes divisive rifts between them. "Baby Boomers," the generation born after World War II feel entitled to call "Millennials" lazy because they have been raised differently than them. While the older generation may have trouble with computers and resent their infiltration into the workplace, younger generations had no trouble incorporating them into their daily lifestyles, let alone workplace. "Generation X," which loosely has birth dates falling between 1960-1980, may feel like their rights are viewed as lesser than the generations before them who they think had more simplistic work lives and better access to the "American Dream." Or perhaps they feel that they are better than others because some of them are nearing retirement or are comfortable in their career, unphased by the economic upheaval that will heavily affect the young people of this nation.

All of these factors allow people to dehumanize older or younger generations to an extent. If you don't believe, check out an article about "Millennials" and look at the comments section. People on both sides get pretty heated about this idea. Whether you agree or disagree with me, it's obvious that treating people poorly because of when they were born (something they had absolutely no control over) is unacceptable and small-minded. But somehow, it's a trap that many of us fall into, myself included.

I'm not asking you to dismiss the concept of naming generations. It's already happened and more than likely, it will continue to persist in our culture as a result of its obsession with naming and understanding everything. Instead, I'm simply asking you to think about your grandfather, classmate, niece, uncle, friend from work, professor, or anyone who is important to you before you classify them as "this" or "that" just because of what media and popular opinions tell you to do. While I will probably continue to smile at memes about generational naming, I'll take it with a grain of salt. You should, too because you are intelligent and have a brain.

Use it.

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Terrors Behind "Toddlers & Tiaras" - Beauty Pageants Need To Go!

Why Honey Boo Boo is not the girl we should be idolizing...

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Honey Boo Boo is famous for her extravagant persona, extreme temper tantrums, overwhelming attitude, and intense sassiness. All of these qualities are shared by many other young girls who participate in beauty pageants - not just in "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" but also in TLC's notorious "Toddlers & Tiaras," a show that depicts the horrors of little girls who have dedicated their childhood to winning the crown.

These shows, and the pageants they glorify do nothing but force girls to grow up too quickly, send negative messages to viewers and participants and pose health risks for the girls involved.

Therefore, beauty pageants for young girls should be abolished.

The hypersexualization that takes place in these pageants is staggering. Not only are young girls' minds molded into having a superficial view on beauty, but they are also waxed, spray-tanned, given wigs, retouched in pictures, injected with Botox and fillers, and painted with fake abs and even breasts.

Sexy is the goal, not cute. Girls of ages 2-12 wear skimpy clothing, accentuating only their underdeveloped bodies. A 4-year-old girl on "Toddlers and Tiaras" once impersonated Dolly Parton with fake breasts, another dressed as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (so basically, a prostitute), and another even pretended to smoke a cigarette to look like Sandy from Grease.

In Venezuela, people are so obsessed with pageants that they send their daughters to "Miss Factories," to train them to win. At these factories, underage girls undergo plastic surgery and hormone therapy to delay puberty in attempts to grow taller. In addition, they often get mesh sewn onto their tongues so that they are physically incapable of eating solid food. This idea of taking horrific measures to look slimmer is not unique to Venezuela. A former Miss USA explained that she would "slather on hemorrhoid ointment, wrap herself up with Saran wrap, and run on a treadmill with an incline for 30 minutes to tighten her skin and waist up." Many countries, including France and Israel have banned child beauty pageants because it is "hypersexualizing." Why has the US yet to follow in their footsteps?

Additionally, the pageants strip their young contestants of a childhood by basically putting them through harsh child labor. Oftentimes, girls as young as 18 months old participate in pageants. There is no way that a girl under 2 years old has the capacity to decide for herself that she wants to participate in a beauty pageant. Not to mention, education often takes a backseat in pageant girls' lives as long practice sessions interfere with sleep and homework. This causes long-term distress for the contestants, including widespread unemployment for former pageant girls.

Moreover, these pageants tie self-worth and self-esteem to attractiveness. They teach girls that natural beauty and intelligence are not enough, when in actuality they should be doing the opposite. In fact, 72% of pageant girls hire coaches to train girls to be more "attractive."

Finally, these pageants pose potent health risks for the girls competing. Not only do intense rehearsals interfere with their sleep cycles, but they are also impacted by the harmful methods taken to keep them awake. One example is Honey Boo Boo's "go go juice" - AKA a mixture of Mountain Dew and Red Bull. She is known for drinking this continuously throughout pageant days to stay awake and energetic - but the health risks associated with the drinks, let alone for such a young girl, are completely ignored.

And, the future health problems associated with pageantry cannot be looked past. Participating in beauty pageants as kids leads to eating disorders, perfectionism, depression - in fact, at least 6% suffer from depression while competing. "The Princess Syndrome," as Psychology Today calls it relates to a small study published in 2005 that showed that former childhood beauty pageant contestants had higher rates of body dissatisfaction. This sense of dissatisfaction can so easily be translated to more severe mental and physical health issues, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. The average BMI (Body Mass Index) of a Beauty Contestant in the US in 1930 was 20.8, which is universally in the middle of the "healthy" range. In 2010, it was 16.9, which is considered underweight for anyone.

So, despite the entertainment these shows and pageants provide, they should most definitely be stopped due to the immense amount of issues they cause for those involved and those who watch.

Although Honey Boo Boo is (sadly) considered one of America's sweethearts, her experience in pageantry has certainly not been a positive influence in her life nor in the lives of her fans - and this is the case for nearly all young pageant girls.

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