I’m the kind of person who hates telling other people what they like.
For example, I once told a guy in high school that The Killers are one of my favorite bands, and he asked if I was a Satanist, because it sounded like a death metal band that sacrifices small animals. Now he is in college and probably dancing in a basement with 75 other white people to Mr. Brightside.
Another time I told a girl my age that I was really into 80’s metal bands. Motley Crue (yes I am aware that I am missing the accents on the O and U. I am not tech savvy), Skid Row, Ratt, etc. She was "popular", so naturally she gave me a fake smile and laughed – she thought I was weird and awkward and would rather not be seen with me. 2 years later she confidently donned a Motley Crue Tshirt at school, and people were like “Wow! So cool! So alternative!"
I know I sound like a terribly prestigious hipster who thinks she liked everything before it was cool. That isn’t the case, it’s just that a lot of the things that I got side eye for – especially music – ended up being “cool” only after people laughed in my direction or took snapchats of my clothes. Mom jeans? Dr. Martens? The “thrifty” trend? Mumford and Sons? The Killers? Being a “nerd”? Liking old hair bands? Scrunchies? Jeans with the pockets cutout? Being a feminist? Fishnets? I got made fun of for liking this music or wearing these clothes or thinking this way – and then the same people who poked fun at me adopted many of the trends they laughed at.
To be petty, some kindergarten sorority sisters once tormented me for having lips that looked too big for my face (and still do). As I recall, they said that I was a Bratz doll and they were Barbie dolls, and that Barbies were so much prettier. I think that this year I will send them coupons for lip plumpers, or maybe recommend them a plastic surgeon who will allow them to be Bratz dolls, since that’s what everyone wants now. Because for the same reason I cried as a kindergartener, people are paying to change themselves.
A more recent example stems from social issues. I remember being with a group of students in high school, and we were asked to divide ourselves into minimum wage supporters and dissenters. I was one of two supporters, and at the end of the discussion I pretended not to hear them making stereotypical liberal jokes. “Oh no! The oceans rose a half a centimeter!” and “Who cares if dumb people make 7.25 anyway?” are the ones that have stuck with me. Fast-forward a couple of years and these same individuals are writing novels in their Instagram captions about how important climate change awareness is.
When I expressed concern about the wage gap between genders, a girl said that I was being a "whiny bitch" and that the gap was a myth. Less than a year later she snapchatted her "The Future is Female" Tshirt.
It’s like, people in grade school have a period of conformity. A period where every girl in the 6th grade has to wear skinny jeans and an Aeropostale shirt, or in the 11th grade when everyone wears a north face jacket, leggings, and boots. If you come out of this phase too early, though, you are subject to ridicule. How dare you not wear the uniform? How dare you listen to music that’s not on the top 100 list? How dare you wear your individuality on your sleeve? And they make fun of you and laugh at you until they themselves come out of the conformity period and want to become an individual. And then all of the sudden it’s cool to wear “lesbian mom shoes” AKA, Birkenstocks.
By no means am I saying that they are bad people. It is nowhere near a bad thing that more people care about climate change, nor is it the worst thing to wear Birks. It is wonderful that more girls are now feminists. I’m also not saying that I started any of these fads – mainly I just saw pocket-less jeans on Pinterest a year before them.
I am writing this mostly to my younger sister, who still has a few years left of high school’s pettiness. People will ostracize you for your differences, until they realize that they want to be different too. If they make fun of your hair, don’t color it. If they make fun of your hobbies, don’t change them. If they make fun of you, stay exactly the same. You never know what will be lusted over in a few years – you never know if it will be the very things that they laughed at you about. People hate and scorn what they don’t have – and then they want and take what they don’t have.