It’s four exams down, eighteen to go. In all honesty, I’m exhausted. I hope you are all well, and, as usual, I am here for you all 🙂
Even if you happen not to have been born a millennial, it will come as no great shock for you to hear that young people agonize over, despise (and even face severe mental conditions as a result of) their appearance. Or rather, the obscured image they hold in their mind’s eye.
Percieved as shallow at a superficial analysis, concern and insecurity are often misinterpreted, understandably, but perhaps not justly, as vanity. Labelled as arrogant and vapid, many young adults are trapped in a world of angst, pain, misconception and anguish regarding the reflection that stares back at them each night in the bathroom mirror as they wash their face and brush their teeth.
Teenagers have always faced and endured emotional turbulence, undoubtedly-but since these times, new issues have arisen; namely, the media. And in parallel to these societal adaptation, support and understanding must also increase proportionally. Being sixteen enables me access-and, primarily, a personal insight into the world of the internet, living in a time that can only be considered The Dawn of the Tech-Age.
I imagine, perhaps to some degree naively, the angst that cloaked self identity thirty-or-so years ago to thinly resemble this: fifteen year old girls flicking through magazines, watching their favorite idols on Top of the Pops, wishing to resemble the prettiest of the women; the ones whom everyone either wished to be with, or simply, to be. Adolescence has always been clumsy, awkward and somewhat humiliating for the sufferer; there is no denying that. Nowadays, however, if you make a mistake, it is there for the world to see, forever. The competition, the pressure to look “acceptable” is immense, greatly emphasised and encouraged on Facebook and Instagram.
Having passed through a time of my life where looks were crucial, comparing myself pointlessly and needlessly against the girl sat next to me in maths, I have learnt a life lesson: that looks really are not everything. And young people, particularly women, need to be offered a change in perspective.
Of course, if you’d have informed my slightly younger-incredibly cynical-self of this fact, I would have shrugged it off as utter nonsense; something that sheltered and well- meaning elders preached in an attempt to boost our confidence. Retrospectively, there was more truth in the words that they spoke than I gave credit for. I was wrong, and here is exactly why:
Back in the days of hiding scars, attempting to perfect my hair, my skin, my makeup, I strived to accomplish an delusional look with ever-distancing goal posts. Even at the time, I knew it was a mug’s game; that images and adverts were photoshopped, that personality and kindness were the fundemental aspects of a person. On a conscious level, I knew: but that didn’t change how I felt deep down, beneath all of the intellectual conclusions I’d drawn.
It wasn’t, in fact, until I’d worn a short shirt and been accepted for my external appearance that I realised that I was still pretty, despite having what society (wrongly) deems to be “flaws”. Those who loved and appreciated me couldn’t care less: and those that did care-well, quite frankly, could go and get fucked. What could such narrowminded and dim-witted human beings usefully offer, anyway?
The truth is, when you fall in love with someone’s soul their entire face, the shape of their figure, becomes more attractive. I have been repulsed by the idea of sleeping with someone at first sight, but their seemingly out-of-nowhere clever, witty, humerous remarks and the kindness that spills out of them when they help an old lady up off the floor somehow changes everything. And vice versa, I have adored conventionally beautiful and somewhat stunning people, only to be let down by a dull, bitchy, cruel and uneventful personality. Just like that; the attraction has faded.
I’m not saying that those commonly accepted as attractive don’t have it easier; sometimes, they do. More people may smile at them in the corridors, they may be given unfair leeway regarding deadlines and assignments, their alluring smile may win them the occasional upperhand at a job interview-but often, beauty can be an anticlimax when taking the entire overview of the person into account. Perhaps because they’ve recieved better treatment, been more popular in high school corridors, they lack spark and originality.
And that’s where us “geeks, us “nerds” and us “misfits”, often left on the outskirts of childhood socialising, take over and grab the baton. It is not that such people cannot categorically be good-looking, rather, they are deeper, wiser, more intuitive, than their outer appearance defines them to be.
Models look good in clothes; intellectuals change the future of the world and the lives of those who inhabit it.
Anorexia is the biggest killer of all mental health conditions currently accepted by leading health professionals. Globally, the western world is facing somewhat of an epidemic: among men and women, boys and girls, the old and the young. Although genetic and other psychological issues inevitably contribute, relentless bombarding of images and concepts in the media harms the lives and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands each year.
Let’s make 2017 the year we challenge the media. We are all worth so much more than our outer cases.
Stand to be counted.