Friday, March 22, 2013

Keeping Up Appearances

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. - Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Today's children and young teens are overly concerned about their physical appearance. Society puts undue pressure on the youngsters to act and dress according to a code set by them. Failing to do so, leads to so many issues like being treated unfairly, being cast out of groups, etc.   Research has found that more children and young people have problems with their emotional health today than 30 years ago, due to a range of modern day pressures.
"I think it makes you feel better about the way you look but too much looks ridiculous,"
says a 13 year old from England about following the latest trends. Some teens follow these trends willingly but others are into it by coercion.
"Well my group isn't the most popular, but some of us do want to be. One of my friends began hanging out with the 'popular crowd' and they began asking her do stuff she didn't like. Eventually, she gave in to what was being asked to do, and the teacher found out and she got kicked out of school for two weeks. She was heartbroken that her 'friends' allowed it, and was devastated."
The above is one of the many devastating cases where teens fall victims to societal pressure. As long as the teen is in no danger of falling into the wrong crowd and destroying their life or future, they shouldn't be criticized - give an opinion instead of harsh criticism. 

Television plays an unhealthy role in affecting the teenager's self-esteem. The long-legged, skinny models and actresses make them feel worthless and that's when they develop unhealthy food and lifestyle habits. They feel the urge to dress and look like the people they see on TV and in magazines. Their self-esteem slowly drops if they don't sport the same look as their fellow peers or the models on magazine covers. Bullying is another cause for low self-esteem. Teens are tagged as, 'sluts', 'emo', 'goth', 'jocks', 'fat', etc which again compels most of them to change the way they look in an effort to 'fit in'. They also tend to spend a lot of money buying products harmful to their health just to achieve the perfect look. There is no such thing as 'perfect'. It's merely an illusion to make good people feel bad about themselves.

Teenage years are critical in human life. It's when they feel that the whole world is conspiring against them. They don't need the added pressure of all this.
On asking Safiya, a 13-year old from Surrey, what she would most like to tell her friend who fell victim to peer pressure, here's what she said:

"I would tell her to be herself and not who society wants her to be. She lost friends and respect in her 'change' and I would try and show her how much she was loved when she was herself."
On the brighter side, there are some teens who don't succumb to this pressure of keeping up appearances. 
Mia from Scotland doesn't let social conventions affect her.
"Well,I don't really stick with the trends. I, myself, am a metal head and I wear next to nothing other than black. Although, when I see people keeping up with the latest 'trends', I usually hate it. Some people just look really horrible, there are 13 year old's dressing inappropriately. Some people go shopping every weekend just to keep up. Sometimes it's really pathetic..."
It doesn't matter what size you are or how you choose to dress, or what your other tastes are as long as you're happy with it. Don't let society make you feel awful about yourself.
"Every size is beautiful, and girls should feel beautiful no matter what. They need to ignore the size 0 taunts and the bullies. FEEL BEAUTIFUL NO MATTER WHAT!" - Jasmin from Scotland.
Stay away from people you think will pressurize you to follow their way. Stand up for yourselves. Don't be a slave to modern trends and society. You're perfect with all the flaws you might think you have.  Cheers!