You Got It Going On

You Got It Going On

Redefining beauty in today's age.
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I spent this past Friday volunteering in my aunt’s classroom at her elementary school. Going with her required me to wake up far earlier than I am used to, which meant that the last thing I was concerned about was my appearance. However, I put on my nicest pants and threw on a professional shirt. To be honest, I was worried more about arriving on time than anything else, due to my perpetual history of tardiness.

About an hour after I got there, I was sitting in an exhausted trance in an undersized blue chair when I heard a chorus of whispers filling the classroom. It wasn’t until I heard the loud groan of the word “Ewww,” that I lifted my head.

Apparently, most of the girls in the classroom were asking their fifth grade, male counterparts if I was pretty, and their responses were not so positive. I made pretend not to hear them as they commented on my short hair, furry eyebrows, and tired, pale face.

However, after about two minutes of this, I found myself growing increasingly more insecure and excused myself to the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror.

As a disclaimer, I have never planned on writing about looks or appearances, because, for the majority of my life, I never thought that it was really worth discussing.

But, as I was looking at myself in the mirror in the elementary school bathroom, I started to wonder how strong the patriarchy was with this situation; that I, a grown-ass woman, was made insecure by a group of fifth-grade boys.

They were overpowering me with their perceptions of beauty, probably ones that they have learned from television or the Internet. Granted, the opinions of these 10-year-old students did not upset me. Rather, it was that the standards of female attractiveness had extended to such a young age. It was starting to feel helpless.

I was a paraprofessional for a middle school class this summer, and I met a beautiful eighth-grade female student who confided to me that she had been hospitalized for an eating disorder that school year. She told me that all of her friends were skinny and pretty, and that it was hard to believe that she was attractive in the way celebrities look. Besides telling this student how much I admired her for her strength, and reminding her that her body is just a case for her soul (that elicited an eye roll from her), there was not much I could do.

There are people my age who are struggling just as much as this young student was. Insecurity is not something that just disappears with age. It’s hilarious and accepted to Snapchat your friend a picture of your four chins at an unattractive angle, but nearly sacrilegious to go on a date or out to a bar without 30 minutes of preparation to look "presentable."

If you look at it objectively, it just seems like an overly confusing and altogether unnecessary game to play. And if you're like me, and perhaps a little exhausted, it’s easy to quit this game prematurely.

In order to create any sort of outward change, it's important to understand and sit with our own opinions and perspectives as to what we feel beauty is. By doing this, we are better able to distinguish both what we value and how much we value it in a person.

I went through a period in my life where I chopped all of my hair off because I did not want to feel “pretty” anymore, mostly because growing up, I was told that long hair was beautiful, like Tova Benjamin writes about in her article.

I wanted to wear asexualized clothing and detach emotionally from any sort of romantic situation because I wanted be seen as an actual person, as opposed to somebody with boobs and a nice face.

Tavi Gevinson expresses this idea in her really good article. But then, over time, I came to realize that by doing this, I was only letting society/the patriarchy/whatever win. Who can really determine what is feminine, when it comes down to it?

Only yourself.

I can be incredibly feminine and beautiful without having long tresses and perfectly lined eyeliner. You best believe that you can, too.

It would be one thing if it was just something our generation is doing, but it’s a whole other thing for it affecting people younger than us, who are still determining and crafting what beauty is in their eyes.

That day in class, a quiet fifth-grade girl could have heard her male classmate outline in what ways I was not pretty. And, in return, she could have committed it all to memory, taking serious note that perfectly maintained eyebrows warrant male approval. That makes me worried and, ultimately, powerless.

So, my call to action is to tell you, readers (regardless of gender), to do you. Go braless or bare-assed, or treat yourself to that new MAC palette and wear the shit out of it. By doing you, unapologetically, somewhere the wheels will begin turning and perspectives will begin to shift. And with that, I am pretty sure that there will be a fifth-grade student, somewhere, who is going to benefit from it.

Cover Image Credit: As featured in Rookie Magazine's Tumblr Page

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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Meditation Is Not A Perfect Practice, But It's Still Worth Your Time

You'll thank me later.

nczupek
nczupek
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I began doing yoga a few years ago, and I instantly loved it. The combination of stretching, mental relaxation, and emotional release is amazing. It creates a sense of zen and peace in my life that I can use during the stress that comes from school, work, and everyday life. But the one part of yoga that I am not in love with is the meditation aspect.

I absolutely dread meditation. I do not know what it is, but I can never quite seem to get my mind to quiet down. No matter how hard I try, there is always a million thoughts running through my brain. "Did I finish that homework assignment?" "Am I breathing too loud? Can other people hear me?" I become so focused on other things happening around me that I just can't seem to calm down and relax.

But meditation is not about just clearing your mind and going completely blank. It is about focusing on a single thought, object, or intention and just allowing those emotions and feelings to overcome you. Focusing on one intention in your life allows you to become focused and re-centered. Meditation is not a set in stone practice, it is adaptable based on each person's needs.

There are seven general types of meditation: loving-kindness meditation, body scanning meditation, mindfulness meditation, breath awareness meditation, kundalini yoga, Zen meditation, and transcendentalism meditation. Each of these general types can be adapted to fit ones specific needs in that time. All seven of these meditations offer stress release options to help with daily stressors and inconveniences.

There is no perfect way to meditate. Meditation can also be as simple as just closing your eyes and simply breathing for a few seconds while focusing on one important thing in your life to help you remain grounded. There is no one set meditation type that works for all people. Some people enjoy all of the forms or even several of them, while others such as myself strictly enjoy the body scanning meditation.

The body scanning meditation focuses on scanning the body for areas of tension and to encourage the release of tension in that part of the body. Once the release occurs, the whole body can begin to relax even more. It usually starts by focusing on the toes and relaxing then moving up the legs, the torso the arms to the fingertips, and all the way through to the tip of the head.

My ideal meditation type is not for everyone. Playing around with the different types of meditations is the best way to find an ideal type of meditation that fits what the body needs. Unlike with most things, practice doesn't make perfect. Practicing the art of meditation just helps to refine the overall calm and zen that is felt.

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nczupek

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