I have a terrible tendency to tiptoe around things. A lot. Even in my own journals I find myself sugar coating my own thoughts and opinions in fear of being wrong or being embarrassed later. I tend to write about things that concern me but stay a safe distance from the things that really bother me.
Most of the huge issues right now I am still working through and trying to figure out where I stand in them. But this is a first step towards speaking up for things that I think should be changed over time. If all of us tip toe around and stay silent then nothing will ever change.
One thing that has become increasingly disturbing to me right now is a lot of the things that girls are told, both growing up and once we are grown. We are constantly told what it is appropriate to wear, or to say, or to do. I understand that we have come a very long way, but there is still a ways to go.
I’m tired of being told, “No, you can’t wear that. It will turn heads.” I know what that means. It means that boys will maybe look in the wrong places and think the wrong thoughts. Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to wear immodest clothing or do inappropriate things but I am tired of being restricted because of a fault that isn’t mine. It is hot outside, I want to wear shorts. My legs are long, it is extremely hard to find some that are comfortable and modest, that don’t make me look ridiculous. Not to mention that the restrictions on boys clothing are barely any if at all.
I have met so many girls who struggle with depression and insecurity. Some of them have even considered suicide. All of them are beautiful, but they refuse to listen to me when I tell them that. I believe that part of the reason is because of all the standards that we are expected to live up to. The media and Hollywood only shows us supermodels who have strict diets or plastic surgery. We are always fed the idea that that is what beauty looks like. It is not.
When we try to imitate the girls we see in movies or magazines, we are told “You wear too much makeup, that dress is too revealing, you need to act your age.” But when we wear an oversized t-shirt and running shorts we are told that we aren’t putting in enough effort, that we are plain, or that we will never find a boyfriend. Hey guess what, I don’t want a boyfriend, and if I feel like wearing makeup it’s my choice not yours. The same goes for not dressing up or trying everything that the media shows is “Hot”.
Here’s an idea: What if instead of criticizing girls for wearing tank tops when it is hot outside, we start teaching our sons that girls are not sexual objects. I’m very sick of being told what to wear according to a guy’s possible opinion.
I’ve even been told by guys who are my friends or people I look up to that I look bland or I should wear makeup. I’ve heard my friends told the same things. People say, “Ew, girl you need to shave.” Why are girls required to shave and keep up a time consuming and expensive ritual when guys are not?
If you are a male and you spent five minutes on your routine in the morning, please don’t go up to a girl and make fun of her for taking five minutes too. And if she took two hours, then consider the fact that she might actually be insecure about her looks and she wants to look good for herself, NOT for you. Or maybe she just likes makeup or clothes. That is not a sin. It’s the same as you spending hours at a time on a video game.
And the sad thing is, we are also told these things by other girls. In fact, more often than not these remarks come from girls, not boys. There is so much comparison among females that you’d think it was a disease. When someone says, “Oh your hair is so beautiful!” please just take the compliment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a girl reply to a compliment with, “No that’s not a thing.” What kind of response is that? If someone gave you free food would you look at them and say, “No, you can’t do that. I’m not good enough.”?
This may sound like a small thing but it’s more important that you may think. Every single girl I have ever talked to about this agrees. It’s not that hard to think twice before you sneer at a girl because her bra strap is showing. Oh wow women have female body parts and wear women’s clothing too. What a surprise.
Guys, we wear what we like to be comfortable in our own skin. I like wearing earth tones, lots of bracelets, little to no makeup, and a feather in my hair. I’d rather be comfortable than “cute”. If you have a problem with any of that, leave it in my suggestion box so I can ignore it.
Girls, let’s stop shaming and bullying other girls. We’ll be a lot stronger if we work together. Beauty refers to the inside more than the outside. I’ve never met a girl I didn’t find beautiful in some way. We do have voices. Wear your favorite shirt, because it makes you feel like yourself and forget about what people might think.
If I ever have a daughter, I will teach her that she is beautiful no matter what other people say or think. I will teach her to respect and lift up her fellow sisters all around the world. She will be allowed to wear what she feels comfortable in as long as it is appropriate. And by appropriate, I mean that she can’t just walk around in barely anything but she shouldn’t feel ashamed to wear summer clothes in the summer or skinny jeans in the winter. She will know that her body weight or skin color or height have nothing to do with true beauty. I hope she will be strictly her own person and feel confident that way.
I have a lot more I could say on this subject, but I’m just practicing raising my voice a little so that I don’t get too afraid to raise it at all. I’d rather be criticized for the things I believe in that regret my silence, when my voice could have been helpful. This is a little protest, a small rant, but together with the voices of others it might one day do some good. This is just about double standards and social norms which need work but there is so much more than that. There are so many women out there who’s voices are not being heard or are being silenced. Let’s start listening harder.