Flash back to four years ago, the summer before my freshman year of high school. My family moved to Illinois from Michigan and, naturally, it took me a while to make friends. So when I came home from school or rehearsal, what did I do? Watch YouTube videos and read blogs, of course. It felt like the people on the other side of the screen were my friends in a time when I didn’t have many.
That time period, 2012 to 2013, was the time period of the beauty guru. I spent hours upon hours watching these girls who got paid to endorse beauty products and show their extensive, huge shopping sprees of size extra-small clothing to a camera. As a person who makes YouTube videos myself, I can tell you that making videos is not easy. But I wish that these girls with such huge platforms had been teaching me more than what to wear to school and how to do my eyeliner.
I wish I had someone telling me about confidence, body positivity, and resilience. I wish the topic of feminism came up, or something of that sort. Ultimately, I wish I hadn’t been even further brainwashed into thinking that I needed to change my body in order to achieve acceptance by my peers. These girls behind the screen were perceived to be “normal.” But the majority of normal kids can’t rack up a $1,000 bill at urban outfitters every month, at least I know I can’t. The majority of 14-year-old girls couldn’t buy a $54 naked eyeshadow palette. Mine came from the elf shelf at target, and cost $3. Most importantly, not all young girls can fit into a size XS. News flash: they shouldn’t have to.
I wish I had someone like the current version of myself on the internet during that time. Because if I could have 10 minutes every week with the young teenage girls of this world, I’d tell them about more important things. If you need somebody to tell you this, here I am: you don’t need to look a certain way to be happy. Society’s standards of beauty and adequate size are ridiculous and incorrect. Your doctor can tell you if you are healthy and your own body can tell you if you are healthy, not a scale or some girl with a million subscribers who doesn’t even know that you exist. Unlike what I was told in a beauty video that I watched in 2013, you should consume more than 1,000 calories a day. Two seventeen year old girls told me through that screen that I could not eat more than 1,000 calories per day if I did not want to get fat. As if fat is the worst thing a woman can be. You need to eat to fuel your body, not to fit into a certain range of useless statistics. That kind of misinformation is dangerous; telling a 14 year old girl to malnourish herself for beauty purposes is not acceptable. Endorsing the cabbage soup diet, intended for cardiac patients, to an audience of teenage girls is not okay. I was twelve when I first tried the cabbage soup diet, in hopes of becoming skinny, and to this day I cannot swallow a piece of boiled celery because I remember the agony of swallowing that disgusting soup for all the wrong reasons a little too well.
I may not have nearly as large of a platform as these girls do, I may barely have one at all, but I am here to tell you that there is no way of measuring beauty. In the end, we are all just human beings. We all have a unique purpose in this world, which we are each to determine. Your life is not about owning lots of cute clothes or knowing how to best apply lip gloss. Your life should not be about what you look like. I wish this was drilled into me by the media when I was at that age of insecurity. It would have saved me so much energy in scrutinizing my appearance, energy that could have been used to make something better of myself. So, stop. Stop spending so long looking in the mirror. Go write about how you feel. Read a book that interests you. Hang out with your mom, or your friend, or your dog. Be nice to someone. Call your grandma. Take a nap. Whatever. The world is your oyster, time is yours, make something of yourself. Who cares about the wrapping paper? Care about what’s inside the box; that’s the cool part.