What the hell does it mean to be hot? After my four years at East Grand Rapids High School, this question still remains unanswered. I was too tall, too fat, too loud, and most notably not blonde. All of these characteristics changed my schooling experience for the worse. Was I really loud and annoying? Or was I just not the standard they wanted me to uphold.
The standards put on teen girls are impossible. You have to be hot, but also cute but not too cute, because then you would not be sexy. You need to dress well, but not too well, because then you are trying too hard. You can wear makeup, but it has to be natural, because if not, you have a cake face. You need to be smart, but not smarter than the boys, because then they will feel inferior, and you need to be quiet, but not too quiet, because being shy is unacceptable. The list goes on and on and on.
The insecurities that are placed on women at a young age are unbelievably harmful. Growing up being told you’re too much, too tall, too loud, too smart, will only make young women feel less than. You can argue it all you want, but our society oppresses women. A woman is told she is calculated; whereas a man is strategic. The double standard is unfathomable. As children we are told to dream big; we can do anything under the stars; and we’re unstoppable. Somewhere after puberty, that changes. We can no longer be who we want to be and do what we want to do. There’s a rulebook that no one anticipated.
Even though no matter what we do, we will never live up to the standards men set for us. This is not a poor-me tale. Women do not need to meet the standards that are set for us. Beauty comes from within. It is a clique but it is true, the most pleasing-looking women with an ugly soul are ugly. We have shown time and time again that we are greater, stronger, and more beautiful than whatever those outdated standards want us to be.
Even though we all know we can deify the useless standards they are still imprinted upon us. As humans, we all just want to be liked and cherished, and it’s hard when everyone around you who is the standard is receiving the love that you want. There are some people out there, men especially, who will not give you the time of day unless you reach their standards. I’ve seen it and I’ve experienced it. Men talking to you and then as soon as someone who fits their standards more walks past, they are gone. Or turned from you in a group conversation or blocking you out from the rest of the group. You could infer from those experiences that maybe they just do not like you or you annoy them; it’s not always about looks, right?
Unfortunately, we all have biases so it is about looks. There must be a way to solve this right? There is no way to erase bias from someone’s mind.
But if we start teaching young boys how to be nice to all girls and not just the ones they find attractive then it will snowball from there. On the other hand, young girls need to be taught not to put up with anyone’s crap. They need to be shown how beautiful they are individually and uniquely. It is not fun to be like everyone else, I know that from first-hand experience.
Being different is what makes you special, and if teenage boys in your class want to call you annoying, fat, and ugly – you don’t have to let them. Once you know your worth, you will see how meaningless those words are.