A friend of mine covers a common struggle that most teenagers have to deal with.
The following is a guest post from a very insightful friend of mine. He has recently graduated from high school, and this post with it’s beautiful literary structure and fresh earnest voice, seems to capture succinctly some of life’s lessons that he has learned and would like to share. May I present Gossip by Siddhant Dubey.
Is it a noun, or a verb, or both?
Is it futile, or can it stir oceans?
Is it a whisper, or is it a war cry?
GOSSIP. GOSSIP. GOSSIP.
It’s all we do.
It’s all we’re capable of.
It’s all that’s engineered within us.
We can’t help ourselves.
We can’t help ourselves at all.
We need to know what he did a moment ago.
We need to know what she did ten years ago.
We constantly: Need. To. Know.
It’s a joke for some – an ordeal to engage in.
It makes others take their lives.
It ‘livens’ up a conversation.
It gashes someone’s self-esteem.
It generates laughter.
It disintegrates dignity.
It’s a quick exchange of opinions and statements.
It’s a burden that will explode if we don’t pass it on.
It’s the same burden that will destroy someone’s pride and possibly their life.
It can make you cry.
It can make you scream.
It can make you regret.
It can make you scheme.
It can make you shatter.
It can make you howl.
It can make you shiver.
It can make you scowl.
THE BEST WAY TO DEAL WITH IT IS TO IGNORE IT. Yes?
THE BEST WAY TO DEAL WITH IT IS TO DISPOSE IT. Yes?
THE BEST WAY TO DEAL WITH IT IS TO GENERATE IT OR PASS IT ON. Yes?
NO. HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE WORD ‘DISGUSTING’? THAT’S WHAT YOU ARE.
Some people don’t bother – The best option to keep.
Some people falter – Stop it, you’re not that weak.
Some people dismiss – that’s the way to be.
Some people cause – You have no right to be bleak.
Thousands of people kill themselves out of depression, out of being the centerpiece of judgment, out of not living up to expectations and out of sheer morbidity caused by the comments generated on their race, gender, sexuality, and other things that serve no basis for judgment.
GOSSIP IS A WEAPON.
It must be handled with care.
Disposed off when received.
Unloaded when aimed.
Enucleated before the intention of being made.
I gossip too. But with so many people taking their lives because of not fitting in or being accepted, it sucks that I’m contributing to even a fraction of pain in this world.
This is going to sound sappy to you (it most certainly should not, though) but you have to pledge with me:
I will not judge from this day onwards – be it on the basis of race, sexuality, gender or ability. I will not engage in incessant talk about other people and most definitely will not continue a piece of hurtful information for the sake of ‘fun’, ‘fitting in’ or even under ‘peer pressure’. I will not succumb to it.
Trust me, the world will be so much better when everyone stops gossiping. But this thought and idea has to take birth by itself, inside of you. Just regarding this and stopping at that will not do.
I do not know how many of you have heard of Amanda Todd and the terrible life she suffered. But if you have time, please look it up and empathise with the fact that there are so many people like her who need help and don’t know what to do except give up entirely. All of you who say “suicide is for the weak” are shallow-hearted fools who cannot, for the love of this world, see that suicide is a terrible, terrible act that anyone can succumb to when situations and people in their lives lash back on them with hatred.
I will also take a moment to talk about body image.
Being overweight myself, I know what it’s like to be conscious of body image.
It makes you feel awkward and uneasy and terrible.
There are people around us who may seem confident and poised, but that may not always be the case.
And so that gives you no right to comment on anyone’s body image.
Bulimia is just one of the very few social and emotional issues that we come across and disregard as “gross” or “disgusting”, but we need to understand that people are driven to this because of other people’s comments and expectations and that is the most unfair thing I’ve ever come across.
No one should ever be able to dictate over someone else’s body image.
Everyone’s aim should be to get healthy. Not to get skinny or be pretty.
Lastly, to everyone who’s having problems right now, be it regarding body image or sexuality or acceptance or anything at all, please consider talking to your parents about it. They may not seem like it, but they know their stuff, and they will understand. Your close friends (trustworthy ones) are also worth confiding in. For everyone who feels like that isn’t an option, feel free to drop me a message. Because no one deserves anything like this happening to them. Don’t let this emotion of self-doubt hover over you, because that’s not going to do you any good.
– Siddhant Dubey
A letter from a child to her mother. It’s a very telling story of how sometimes, the issues we have and the problem of body-image comes from those around us trying to make us fit some prescribed mold.
I am scared. A little bit. But above all, my chest hurts.
I am scared because I feel I (if not “we”) have reached a point where I can’t even talk to you. And I have no idea when exactly we reached this point. I am resorting to writing to you now, instead of talking, because it’s just not working anymore. But why does this have to be, mom? I love you so much, and you know this, I know you do, even if sometimes you like to put words in my mouth, and then yell at me for them. And let’s face it, I am no saintly victim either. I jump at you, as soon as you open your mouth I jump and stance myself in defense mode, even though I know you love me too. But why?
I feel like we have reached a point where…
View original post 847 more words
Most of the teenagers I’ve met have had some form of insecurity issues manifesting themselves in an obsessive concern over their shape and/or size. I’ve been meeting a few of my friends, whom I haven’t seen for over a year, and almost undoubtedly the first thing they notice is my shape. “Oh you’re so slim!” or something equivalent. I don’t really understand why this obsession with physical dimensions. After all, it seems to be a rather shallow way of evaluating a person. To be fair, I haven’t ever been on the other side of the spectrum. As in, I’ve never known what it’s like to be not “slim”, so I perhaps cannot claim that the discrimination they feel is imaginary. Most people would say that being called slim is something to be accepted as a compliment. Yet calling someone anything else is supposed to be an implied insult. If I am to be biased against a particular shape, then why should I not extend that bias to other shapes? Isn’t it also offensive, at some level, to call people slim? Personally, I find myself getting a little judgmental of people who compliment me on being skinny. The very fact that they notice my shape, and notice it enough to remark about it, makes me lose some respect for them. I am more than just the organic tissue that binds me. Which brings me back to wonder why people are perpetually obsessed with it, anyway.
The media, which heavily influences our lives in several insidious ways, has always been featuring their perception of the common people to a certain standard of what they should look like. I won’t deny it, I used to be one of those people too, marveling at the awe of their apparently flawless physical appearance. As someone who was tired of being an awkward wallflower, I couldn’t help but childishly envy them for being the center of such attention and supposed adoration. For a while, I even (stupidly) tried to become like that. Once again, the trustworthy network of friends and the deluge on information available via the media provided me with several alternatives on how to look a more socially acceptable version of aesthetically pleasing.
I used to stay a near constant shape as I would eat little and exercise little, my metabolism at some equilibrium. Because I expended so little physical energy, I rarely felt hungry. Until I realized that by not exploring the full culinary diversity at my availability I was going to be depriving my growing body of some very important nutrients. Even then, this realization could not promote me to eat better. That was when I started to exercise. It started with walks and then with runs and so on. My stamina was unsurprisingly poor, and after the first few times I physically exerted myself I found that I grew ravenously hungry. I started to feel more energized and I realized that I had expanded my tummy’s capacity for food. Although I knew that exercise was good for the health and all of that, somehow I had never really bothered to get into it. Strangely enough, I even discovered that exercise made me happy. While exercising, I would come across people who would say, “Oh, you’re so slim already. Why do you need to exercise?” It struck me that most people turned to physical activity only to try to shrink their current frames, which did not necessarily imply better health. People had just come to equate being slim with being healthy, and I couldn’t see how the two connected at all.
What struck me as even more puzzling was that people would hit the gym as a part of their efforts to get into a relationship. It just seemed illogical how a change in waistline would affect how endearing you were. And if it did, then that person was too shallow to deserve affection anyway. But there were people who testified to it’s marvelous effects, and there were several others who made the object of their affection the sole motivation to expand their own life-spans. I can only admire their determination and hope that the person whose appreciation they crave is worth it.
Then came the wave in the opposite direction. The media had, in an effort to garner more credible support, now begun to glorify the feminine shapes that were not size zero. Being curvy was the new in thing. Personally, I felt that this would reduce the social pressure on people to become thinner. I could not have been more wrong. It really annoyed me that even to this shape there was a maximum upper bound you could not cross. If anything, this new public favorite shape seemed to be more restrictive, as it came with a lower limit as well. Once again, a different section of society was under public scrutiny, fueling everyone’s inadequacy. When people aspired to be thin, they weren’t thin enough and now that everyone wanted curvy, you couldn’t be curvy enough.Several people, mostly my peers, now expressed concern at my previously hailed “slim” shape, and (with their best intentions at heart, I assume) advised me to “eat whatever/ eat more”. My parents still maintained that a growing girl needed her nutrients, and they didn’t really care whether that would affect my physical dimensions or not.
We can continue to blame the media for influencing the young “wrongly”, but since we are incapable of effecting rapid changes on a system that’s so all-pervasive, I think the change has to start within oneself. If you feel that you are influenced, then only you have the power to learn to be indifferent. This is not just about shape, but about any of the existing stereotypes that society holds us up to. When we start to feel scrutinized for every minute thing we do/say/appear as, we invite criticism. More often than not, at that age bracket, criticism can be misinterpreted in many different ways, some that are quite damaging and lasting.
That was when I realized one of the most fundamental things about myself. No matter what I did, due to some constancy of my metabolism, I was unable to affect a very large change in my shape. My metabolism kept my shape constant while regulating my dietary needs. It took me a while to conclude that my body is the functional tool with which I am expected to manage this world. If I unnecessarily tried to morph it into something that wasn’t part of the default design, I would lose some property that nature had eventually crafted into me for my benefit. I realized that this acceptance is usually easier said than done, and I have several friends who have overcome their personal demons and managed to deal with their food disorders. But to make these mental changes possible, the human body needs enough fuel to go on, and by reducing that, I figured I was reducing my capacity to make that mental transformation.