MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 30 January) – I find it sad and disturbing that even children, especially girls, as young as seven, maybe nine, feel insecure about the way they look. I don’t remember giving a damn about how I looked like when I was that age. One time I even cut my bangs too short they teased me every day but I just laughed along with them. Good thing I cut it during the summer so only my family was able to witness how silly I looked.
On hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it. But I was still so young that time and when you’re young you do what you’re not supposed to do, and that includes holding sharp objects like scissors and cutting off your bangs without your mother’s consent.
I don’t remember having insecurities regarding my physical appearance when I was younger. My mother would even often scold me and threaten to cut off my hair because it was often a mess whenever I got home from school. It’s not that I don’t know how to comb my hair. I enjoyed outdoor games as a kid and often played with my classmates after our afternoon classes, and the least of my priorities was keeping my hair in place.
I’m not saying my life when I was younger was all fun, games and laughter. When I was in Grade One I cried because I thought I wasn’t an honor student for the final grading, only to find out that I actually was fifth and my brother got the wrong information. And before that, our old home was devoured by the fire. I cried that time, too. And while crying I vented out a lot of words, including “AKONG LAPIS (MY PENCIL)!”
Many people seem to have accepted it, but I will never get used to the standards set by society on people. What’s more sad is that we are society, and we are the ones who made these standards, labels and stereotypes. And it has gone to the extent where even young people succumb to it when they should just be enjoying themselves and not worry about their weight or their freckles maybe. I mean, when I was younger I worried about my classmates breaking my crayons when they were borrowing it.
I’m not saying that wanting to look good is bad and you should just completely ignore your appearance. Personal hygiene and good grooming is still important. You are responsible for your body. If you want to have plastic surgery, fine. If you feel like wearing make-up today, go ahead. If you want to wear those clothes, do it. But you should not feel bad about yourself just because you don’t look like that boy or girl in the magazine (They had make-up before the shoot and it’s Photoshopped, anyway). Don’t feel bad just because you don’t have a thigh gap. Whether or not there is a gap, it is still a thigh and it has the same function. Don’t feel bad just because you don’t have that six-pack abs or the Coca-cola figure.
“What matters most is the inside” is one of the most cliché lines but it is really applicable regarding this issue. Take a fridge for example. Outside it’s just a plain rectangular machine powered by electricity but open it and you find treasure (I personally think food is more valuable than gold or diamond). Another example is a box of pizza. It’s just a box, but you don’t care whether or not the color of the box is white or brown or whether or not the name of the restaurant is printed on it. That’s because you’re after the pizza, and not its box.
So what if you’re not one of the “popular” kids? So what if you don’t fit in? Nobody feels that he or she fits in 100 percent all the time. It’s just that some people are better than hiding it than others. Don’t think that you’re a disappointment because no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to please everybody. You are fat and they tell you to lose weight; you lose weight and they tell you are too skinny. You will just make yourself miserable in the process. Don’t ever degrade your self-esteem and think that you don’t look good. You can look good even though you are overweight or underweight. You can look good even if you have acne and scars. You can just be yourself and look good.
Not having a body like the models of Vogue or Victoria’s Secret doesn’t mean you’re not sexy anymore. During his acceptance speech at the Teen Choice Awards, Ashton Kutcher said: “The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart. And being thoughtful. And being generous. Everything else is crap! I promise you. It’s just crap that people try to sell you to make you feel like less. So don’t buy it. Be smart, be thoughtful and be generous.”
I am a teenager and there have been times when I would look at my reflection and think that I don’t look good enough. But then I remember the times when people complimented me on how I looked and I don’t feel bad anymore. It’s all about how you deal with it. Words are powerful, yes. But if you just try really hard then those criticisms won’t get to you anymore.
Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. In my case I just ignore it and focus on things that are important to me, such as school, art, music and books.
Look at yourself in the mirror. If you still think that you don’t look good then get a better mirror. Look really hard. Look harder and you will see “beautiful”. That’s you. You hold the universe inside of you, and it’s not theirs to take.
(Alexandria M. Mordeno, 14, is a third year science curriculum student at Bukidnon National High School in Malaybalay City.)