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An Open Letter to Social Pressure

I skipped all my lunch meals this week. Actually, I’ve been skipping them for a while now. Why? I’ve been saving up to buy concealer and a contour palette. Why? My facial wash isn’t working and I’ve tried all these DIY face masks, but my acne won’t go away; my skin won’t get lighter and I can’t do anything about the shape of my face, especially my nose.

I had to put ice on my legs today because they were sore. Actually, most of my body parts are sore. Why? I’ve been working out every day to get a thigh gap and smaller hips. Why? Confidence is supposed to be attractive, but I have none of that. It’s supposed to be about the personality, but I guess mine’s not good enough. I’m being myself, but guys won’t like me and there’s nothing I can do about my sense of humor, but maybe I can change my look.

I have done so many things for people I don’t even totally know just because I’m the type of person who cares about what others think.

I’ve tried so hard to be the ideal and like able person that you told me I should and have to be. I’ve spent time, money and relationships on trying to be the person I think of when I hear the word “beautiful” or “attractive” or even “fuckable”, but where has that gotten me? Even less amounts of confidence that I didn’t seem to have in the first place. Less friends because I always seem to be “fishing for compliments” when in fact, I was just trying to talk to someone about my situation and more sleepless nights because I’m busy thinking about the right thing to say or the right thing to wear. Does it really matter though?

I watched a video today called “What Every 8th Grade Girl Needs To Hear” and I wish I had watched that video in 8th grade or even earlier than that because girls these days think about dating, body types, boys, kissing and so much more even before they’re in eighth grade because that’s what they see on social media; that’s what they see and hear from society that they’re supposed to have or have experienced. I wish I’d have watched that video before I knew and thought about the things I knew now because I would be a different person and not writing this letter, but I guess I’m glad to have experienced and have known the things I have because now, I get to talk about it and help other girls. I get to tell girls that they don’t really want a boyfriend in eight grade because they’d be too busy learning history.

They don’t really want to get their first kiss over with just because their friends have; they want it to be special just like in books and movies, no matter how unrealistic. They don’t really want to be “fuckable” because they’re not fuckable; they’re human, they’re a girl and they deserve more than just being referred to as fuckable. They deserve respect and not to be objectified or be seen as a pleasure-giving machine. They want more. They deserve more. They’re not supposed to listen to you just because they don’t have that person in their life or have the person that means the most to them tell them that they look beautiful or that they are smart or funny. Some people don’t have that and it’s the worst, most degrading thing ever and it’s all because you placed these images and words in our heads of what we should want for ourselves.

I used to wake up, and even did so today, and think “I want a boyfriend.” I even say this out loud to my sister every day when I felt like it, but watching that video made me realize that I only wanted a boyfriend because of you. I didn’t really want a boyfriend.

I wanted validation and for someone to care because I had the type of parents that didn’t really give that.

I looked for validation and fuel to my self-esteem in people I didn’t know, barely knew and was somewhat close to. I wanted a boyfriend because I was hooked on TV shows, books, fan fiction, movies or the relationships of the celebrities I loved. I wanted to experience what you deemed “cute” or “relationship goals.”

I used to wake up, and I probably always will, and think “I want to be thinner.” I don’t have to say it out loud for my sister know I felt that way because I had paced my actions in such a way that everything I did revolved around me gaining or losing weight. I wanted to lose weight exactly for the same reason I wanted a boyfriend: because you told me I needed to. You told me I had to look a certain way and be a certain size. You told me I had to fit into a certain piece of clothing and look good in it because it wasn’t really flattering to all body types. You told me all these things that I thought were true until I watched that video and realized you were lying, but you also told the truth.

People will say that “confidence is key” or “it’s not about what’s on the outside, but the inside,” but where is the proof? Is it in the fact that people have shamed me for not experiencing or going through the same things they are? Is it in the fact that people will actually point out the differences in facial features or body types among them? Where is the proof? Because all the people I’ve met so far have thought otherwise so maybe you’re right, but you might be wrong.

So, dear social pressure,

I can’t thank you enough for everything you’ve done. Thank you for showing me the person I want and do not want to be.

Thank you for making me constantly think about the consequences of my actions and helping me know that expectations only become pressure when you let them get to your head. Thank you for teaching me, but I won’t be your slave anymore. I won’t break under your words because I don’t wake up every day and look like the perfect Instagram picture. I won’t listen to your expectations for me to fit in this size of clothing because this store only carries a certain waist range. I won’t be pressured by you anymore.

As a last thought and something that I realized from the video, “One day, you’re going to find someone who will love you for you.” I guess the real question here is, are you willing to wait?

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Gabrielle Mendoza
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gabby is a 16 year old writer and occasional musician. gabby is probably interested in the same TV show, music, movie, video game or artist as you are. knock knock. who's there? helloimgabbyy@gmail.com

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