We are always in the “limelight”. From birth until death, we are being judged about our bodies, our minds and our beliefs and culture.
In reality, it’s all a life lottery. Nobody chooses which country, which family, which belief, culture, body and mind they are born into. Yes we can alter and change these things later in life but in the beginning, we had no choice.
So why do we as society have certain prejudices about others? Why can some people have such a lack of understanding and empathy for others?
I asked a few of you to share YOUR stories. About how you see yourself and how you think society treats you in return.
These short stories remind us that we never really know what is going on in someone’s life, what we as society can do to really damage someone else’s mental health and confidence but also how strong and brave we can be in the face of such a judgmental world.
I’m Sophie, an ethnically Indian, legally German, raised in Hong Kong soon to be 22 year old woman. I am petite. I am average height for 12 year old girls. I have anxiety, which I manage through healthy habits I learned through years of therapy. So what do all of this really mean? Jack shit. All these things are the way society has me describe myself in order to fill in forms for the doctors offices, job applications, and any other bureaucratic piece of paper, digital or otherwise. In my eyes, it’s societies ways of categorising you for their over-complicated filing cabinet – which as well all know, is very out of date. Who even uses filing cabinets anymore?
The constant hum of the outside world trying to fit me into boxes of petite, mentally ill, short, too thin, too fat, not smart enough, too smart, and whatever else, may be put in place to make me buy a product, or change a habit, or feel a certain way. Even though sometimes I give in and listen, they never say anything worth my time. My body tells the story of my life in scars and lines and creases and folds. Every stretch mark is a physical reminder of growth, every wrinkle a reminder of a time where I laughed so hard my skin made a physical reminder of that joy. Erasing all of that because of the social pressure to constantly look prepubescent seems both wrong and frankly, creepy. What’s the big deal if a woman looks like a woman?
To take that a step further into my mind, there will always be someone who’s views and ideas don’t align with my own but that doesn’t make me any less intelligent, brave, or strong. One persons opinion is just that – an opinion. It’s water off a duck’s back, just another blade of grass in a field, or some other metaphor for insignificant details. The social pressure to not speak out and be quiet and polite and traditionally feminine is bullshit. It’s an ingrained way to make women smaller, lesser, quieter. In Asian cultures it’s 10x as bad on the basis of “tradition”. Well, to that I say fuck it, my thoughts and feelings will not be silenced any longer to make society feel more comfortable. But hey, that’s just me – loud, proud, and comfortable enough in my body and mind to make it fuckin’ known.
Find more from Sophie:
How do I feel about my body? Today, I love my body. I look hot. I look skinny. My breasts look perky and I feel great. But I don’t always feel this way. Sometimes I hate my body. I slouch which makes my boobs look saggy. my weight fluctuates and sometimes I wish I could unzip my skin and try someone else on. I think society treats me well, the occasional objectification by a man but overall as a white cis woman, I know I don’t have it as bad as some people do.
Find more from Hannah:
Hello. My name is Jay, otherwise known as the Bearded Igor. I have always been someone who has been seen as different. Ever since I was a child I’ve been bullied and not accepted for how I look and the way I am. I’m a kind hearted, emotional, loving, honest and caring guy. These days I’m chubby, having longer hair than most women and bearded. Have I ever liked myself? No. I hate the fact I’m not how I used to be. But I am me. Something I have accepted. But people have seen me in different ways. Every year I’m called ugly, fat and other horrible names. Dating escalates this too. I’ve been called a drug dealer before and far worse that I will not say. But I’m still me. Unless you are a certain way, society will always turn on people who are weird and different.
Find more from Jay:
My name is Yvonne Wabai, and I am 23 years old. I am Kenyan (African). I am a writer and a scientist. I am currently studying for my MSc. in Medical Biochemistry. I have had to deal with a lot of racism, sexism, and bodyshaming, so I guess that’s what I’ll talk about.
I have had to deal with plenty of racism, stemming from the fact that I am black. Society still treats black people as subhuman It’s interesting for me because I’m black and of African nationality, and most of the times when racism is discussed from an American perspective. For me, it’s not just that I’m black, it’s also that my nationality is of an African country. I mean, even getting a visa is a nightmare for an African national. If you’ve seen the news, there’s no need for me to tell you how poorly African countries are portrayed.
But it’s also more than that. It’s also that I’m a woman. And being a woman in society is really hard. There’s nothing you can do right, and everything wrong is your fault. You’re too emotional, you’re too emotionless; you talk too much, you talk too little; you’re too short, you’re too tall; you’re too educated, you’re not educated enough; you’re sexy, you’re a prude; you’re too curvy, you’re not curvy enough… I could go on and on. It sucks. And, even though times are kinda changing, change isn’t happening quickly enough.
In addition, I was diagnosed with PCOS – polycystic ovarian syndrome – in 2015. One of the symptoms of PCOS is excessive weight gain. My early symptoms were excessive weight gain, hair loss, and severe acne. But, because of the weight gain, everyone, including the doctors, was convinced that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me and that I was just a ‘lazy fatty’. And when the doctors finally had the decency to give me an actual accurate diagnosis (something I had to fight tooth and nail for them to do) one doctor actually had the nerve to suggest that I ‘give myself anorexia’. I had never been so disappointed in the medical profession. I have been advocating for change since then. There has hardly been any, but I still hope we can get there someday.
Find more from Yvonne:
I’m small, skinny and weigh about 47kg/104 pounds. You would think that this is an “ideal” body size but in my country, being thick is seen as more desirable. I’m often treated like a glass doll because of my size and many times, I’ve been exempted from mechanical workshops in my course of study because I’m seen as “too small”.
Still I live in a majority-black country so my Blackness is accepted. However, I wonder how I’ll be treated beyond my country in a society where my skin colour is not welcome.
Find more from Taiwo:
Today, I love my body. But up until about a year ago I was 30 pounds heavier and thought about my weight constantly. My parents and my sisters are all small figured, and I felt so large compared to them. I also love my parents dearly, but without meaning to, they made me feel a lot heavier than I already was. Be it a comment like “why don’t you go to the gym?” or “have you exercised today? That’ll make you feel better.” or “wow, that is quite the plate.” Size always seemed so important.
Now, I am working out and eating healthier, but it was my decision. The issue with people constantly telling you how to be healthy and how to work out and having society tell you what the ideal body image is, is that you aren’t doing these things for yourself, but for them. And I don’t know about you but doing something for someone else, when I don’t see the benefit for myself doesn’t make me stick to it. I love to work out, and sometimes I like a good salad, but you know what else I like? Oreos! And brownies. And I will never have a six pack of abs because of it, and that is OKAY with me! I am in a much healthier state of mind, and it is because I was able to stop living for other people and their expectations but mine instead.
Find more from Abby :
I consider myself as a strong woman. I have grown in this last two year and I discovered that I can do a lot of things in this life, not just what I studied in the university. I am a believer in God but don’t practice a specific religion. I think that believing in God goes beyond doing prayer and going to church, is about to create a relationship and be the best human be you can be.
Talking about society, I live in the Dominican Republic, where the macho culture is prevailing. A lot of things have changed but I still think there can be more change.
As a woman, when I meet a person in the business area, they are often interested in my image and they start to flirt. I have felt uncomfortable since it is not what I am looking for, but apparently many of them don’t understand that.
Twitter: www.twitter.com/ aurapriiscel
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
how you think society treats
you for who you are.