You Got It Going On

You Got It Going On

Redefining beauty in today's age.
1
views

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

Popular Right Now

I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

869847
views

Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Things Nobody Told Me About Depression, But I Really Wish Somebody Would Have

I was diagnosed with depression six months ago. These are some of the things that I wish I had known sooner.

1971
views

There are a ton of things about having depression that no one will tell you. For example, something that no one ever told me about depression is that I have it.

I was diagnosed with depression in December of 2018 - just six months ago. But my therapist tells me that, based on what I've said about my mental state, I've likely had depression since elementary school, if not earlier.

The fact that I've had depression for so long and not know about it only goes to show how easy it is for one to live with mental health issues and never know it.

The fact that I apparently developed depression at such an early age only goes to show that mental health issues do not exclusively affect people only after they have lived and experienced all that life can throw at them.

The fact that I have had a pretty good life - a loving family, success in academics, never experiencing severe poverty - only goes to show that mental health issues are not always caused by shitty life experiences and traumas.

These are all things that no one ever told me about depression, and things that I never knew until I got to college and took a psychology class focused on mental health issues.

I did not know that depression can hide for years without you ever knowing about it.

I did not know that depression can manifest even in young children.

I did not know that depression can affect even those living happy lives.

These are things no one tells you about depression.

These are things that I had to learn by myself, and things that I am still learning how to compromise with the reality of my own life experience.

It's no one person's fault that I didn't know these things, it was the fault of a societal system that didn't know it needed to be concerned with such things. The early 2000s, when my young brain was developing and learning how to cope with the world, were not exactly focused on mental health in children. By the time people realized that children were suffering from depression and anxiety at earlier and earlier ages, I had already been living with my own issues for years, and I thought that my experiences and interpretations of the world around me was normal - that this was how everybody felt, that this was all normal. I didn't think that the symptoms that our counselors and teachers warned about at the beginning of each school year applied to me.

Nobody told me that depression isn't always sadness and crying.

Nobody told me that sometimes depression is a creeping grey numbness that clouds your brain. That sometimes it is a blurring and a muting of your emotions until you feel nothing at all. That such nothingness is worse than any level of sadness you would ever feel.

Nobody told me that depression isn't constant.

Nobody told me that I would have good days amid the bad ones. That every now and then, a day in a week or a day in a month or a day in a blue moon, I would have all of my emotions sharp and bright and my smiles would be as soft as they were genuine and I would relish the taste of the air around me. That these good days don't invalidate the bad days and mean that I don't have depression after all.

Nobody told me that once I was diagnosed with depression it would simultaneously feel like a weight had been lifted and like a punch to the gut all at once.

Nobody told me the relief that I would feel at the explanation and the knowledge that I might not always have to live like this. That I would also feel my understanding of my life flipped upside down, because if the way I have been experiencing the world is because of a disease, then what does that mean for the validity of my life and who I am?

Nobody told me that there would be a part of me that feared to get better, because who would I be without depression? Without this parasite that has somehow been such a constant throughout my life?

Nobody told me that I would begin to question which parts of my personality are "real" and which parts of me are the depression?

And if those two things can even be separate? And if so, will I ever be able to say I am better, if these parts of me developed through depression are still a part of me once I am "recovered"?

Nobody told me how scary that thought would be.

But what people have told me is that recovery is possible. They have told me that life gets better. That those good days that I used to find - unexpected yet welcome - could become my normal day. That I can be my own person, separate from my depression, and I can grow stronger, and happier, and more vibrant and more driven and MORE.

These are the things that people have told me, and these are the things that I remind myself of.

Nobody told me how lonely depression can be, but I hope that this article might make you feel a little less alone, and a little more prepared, and a little more understood.

I am not an expert. I still do not know everything, and my experience is my own, and in no way represents a majority or speaks on behalf of everyone out there suffering from depression. But I know now that I am not alone in my own experiences, and I hope that whoever is reading this, if you need it, maybe now you can know that you are not alone in yours.

Related Content

Facebook Comments