Photo used with permission from Kevin Smith/Flickr
Though we live in a generation that is making progress for special interest groups, such as the LGBTQIA+ community, women and black people, our society as a whole does not always feel like a more accepting place.
With the increase in social media and the perfect “mirror image” it creates of our lives, it feels that the expectations and norms that society puts in place prevent any expression of individuality, and reduces any sense of equality. The feeling of judgment arises when you fail to live up these standards forcing you to hide your self-expression with expensive brands.
If society continues to force conformity through fear, our generation as a collective will remain in a rut. The exposure of brands and social media creates expectations for people to comply in order to face acceptance.
This problem is one that affects each and every individual. We live in a society in which we are surrounded by different brands. Often, the more expensive and known the brand is, the more validation one feels by wearing it. How are we expected to evolve individually when we are pressured by images of so-called perfection?
ASL is no exception 0f being a community that promotes a certain norm, and we are beginning to get engulfed by these norms. We are a privileged community, meaning we have more access to high-end brands, thus creating an expectation to wear them.
I don’t have a size two body, my parents don’t buy me Gucci so I’ll get invited to a party, I don’t own a pair of AirPods nor do I have an iPhone 11. Does that make me less? Do you no longer look at me the same? Do you think you have power over me now?
I spent the first semester of high school doing everything I could to not gain negative attention. I begged my parents for a pair of LuluLemon leggings because “that’s what everyone else is wearing.”
Soon I found myself wearing Nike airforces and leggings, but I didn’t do it to gain attention from others. I didn’t do it because I wanted to be popular and get invited to parties. I did it to ensure I wouldn’t fall outside of society’s norms.
While some people wear legging and airforces because they like them, not everyone does; many wear them to look cool. The minute we put on something that is different from what society defines as “cool,” we might as well be putting a target on our backs.
Whenever I have heard of someone being bullied it’s because they’re showing originality, but being labeled as an outcast.
Suddenly they’re at the bottom of the social pyramid because who they are isn’t good enough for society. You can express yourself as long as it fits inside societies’ constricted guidelines of what’s acceptable and what’s not.
We are forced to compromise our originality and uniqueness just so we won’t get judged.
Our artificial societal norms can be compared to Stockholm Syndrome – a mental illness where the psychological connection normally between a victim and captor creates trust or affection, as we are fooled to believe that they are there to help us.
These appliances and brands are going to keep us immune from harassment and bullying, so we grow to trust them. We buy what they promote out of fear coated as happiness. When, in reality, these norms are the problem; these norms are what created the bullying.
These norms have been implemented into our world for generations, yet, in today’s society, these norms are becoming inescapable.
Yet, these societal norms are what’s stopping us from progressing. We won’t reach equality when no one’s allowed to be themselves without the fear of getting bullied, without the thought of people being superior over them.
Creating a new sense of normality will help spare the people embracing who they are from the spiteful words which prevent our community from evolving.
We need to accept and encourage individuality rather than judge it. People are not defined by the price tag on their shoes or their shirt. The media needs to stop praising solely those who fit into one box of expensive brands and ‘idealistic’ bodies. Our society should be made up of a multitude of different people not a multitude of the same person.