Thursday, March 31, 2016

“What It Really Means When You Say, ‘You’re So Pretty’” by Kelly Shepherd

I believe that women deserve to be treated equally to men and shouldn’t be held back by the unspoken “rules” of society. I recognize this because unknowingly, I am judging the girls around me in a way that I am truly ashamed of. I look around me and I see every single girl in this school trying to find her place, whether it is that she wants to be noticed or she wants to be in the background. Both are completely fine, and these girls that I pass in the halls every day are going through things very similar to what I am going through. They should be able to express themselves and figure out who they are without the opinions of those who aren’t entitled to ones affecting the way that they act, dress, or carry themselves. Every girl that I see has a different style and a different way that they carry themselves. While these things may seem completely opposite at times, we are all affected by the media. Every day we hear, “You need to be skinny, but still curvy. Tall but not too tall”, so every single day we look in the mirror and we compare ourselves to the celebrities that we see in the movies, on TV, or on the stage and we look at the body types that are the opposite of our own. What I see around me are girls that change themselves so that they will appear attractive, sexy, or even smart to people that do NOT matter. Our whole lives we grew up hearing “oh you’re so pretty”, which is a kind thing to say; however, this statement causes us girls to think about what makes us cute or pretty rather than things that are more important, like our intelligence.

Women’s bodies are sexualized and we are brought up thinking that we cannot show our skin because it might be taken the wrong way. At school, where we are supposed to be learning how to be accepting and treat others in a way that we want to be treated, there is a dress code that says you cannot show your shoulders. This is only true for women though, I look around and I see guys in muscle shirts, showing their shoulders. Why is it that when a girl shows her shoulders, it might be distracting to our male classmates? These guys that we grow up with only hear that women’s bodies are a distraction and it is our fault for deciding to show our skin. This belief that guys have that the way that we dress makes them irresponsible for their own actions is similar to the reasoning that some rapists have that the girl was “asking for it” because of the outfit that they wore. I am not saying that this is a direct cause and effect relationship because not every guy is a rapist; however, I am stating that men should be held just as accountable for their actions as women are.

Young women grow up seeing unrealistic ideas of beauty everywhere that they look. We try to stay positive and think, “We are perfect just the way we are”, however it is extremely difficult because all over the tabloids and the internet, we see headlines like “How to Lose That Belly Fat” and “Are you Beach Body Ready?”. Society is contradicting itself when they say love yourself then have headlines like this. At the end of the day, women need to be able to express themselves in a way that makes them happy, no matter how society sees them. I believe that if society lets up on the extreme body images portrayed and stops airbrushing models in the magazines, women will be able to feel comfortable in their own skin again.

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