Growing up you’ll maybe and probably and most definitely realize that grownups suck and don’t actually know everything. Don’t worry too much; it’s just a natural part of the process of being human and being a teen.
Besides it being part of a process, it kind of actually really sucks because for more than half your life you’ve looked up to your parents or your siblings or your idols and have felt full and satisfied with the knowledge they feed you. You feel comfortable knowing that they know everything and in turn can protect you and make you feel safe and all that kind of stuff. It’s only when Miley Cyrus decides to grind on an inflatable penis do you realize that Hannah Montana never really knew how to live a double life in the first place, which in result, leaves you feeling deflated.
Around year 7 my parents went through a messy divorce and for the first couple of years, all I ever heard were rumors about my mum from my dad and vice versa.
I used to think they were both right about each other and it never even crossed my mind that what they were telling me wasn’t necessarily true.
When I hit year 11 I had this big revelation in class with Ruth as I realized that my parents, to quote Holden Caulfield, were ‘phonies.’
It completely knocked me out emotionally. I was like hold on a second…maybe you’re not right about everything…maybe I’m right and you’re wrong.
And I will admit, I did get the ‘bitchy, moody and angsty teen girl’ syndrome and completely flipped out at my parents, which wasn’t the right way to go about it. But mostly, I just kept to myself and quietly observed the world around me and would allow and let myself to think and question it and decide for myself if it was all right or wrong.
It’s really freakin stupid and sucks, but it’s like a really big deal to realize that what you’re thinking inside your head is actually honorable and legitimate.
And I feel like that this is so much more prevalent for girls than boys because as girls we’re taught from a young age, that we’re wrong. To quote (my hero) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Beyonce’s Flawless, “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man.’” And to further quote Amy Poehler, “It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for. It takes years to find your voice and your real estate.”
I guess this post isn’t really about ‘how wrong my parents were/are.’ It’s more an invitation to start thinking for yourself if you don’t already do so.
When I first started thinking for myself and acknowledging that my opinions were just as important as everybody else’s, I found a new sense of power and self respect. My self esteem went through da roof yo and I realized that the space I was taking up was supposed to be and deserved to be filled.
How cool is that?! I’m even going to go out on a limb and say that I’m proud of myself for growing up and growing into myself in the way I did.
I was just reading the latest issue of Yen which features a piece by Tavi called, ‘Build Your Own Throne.’ It’s basically about how to be a superhuman version of your current self and how to make your life the life you want it to be. Under the heading, Find Bravery In Your Bravado, Tavi states a lot of cool stuff which is really relevant to what I’m talking about now but what really struck me out of all of it was when she said,
“TAKE WHAT IS YOURS. TAKE UP SPACE.”
And it is literally printed in caps lock because it deserves to be screamed.
I think it all goes back to the whole ideology that as women we need to sit down, shut up, and listen, which is just not true. As women and even feminists, we have the right to stand up, speak up and fight back…but in way that is respectful. How can you classify yourself as a feminist who doesn’t acknowledge the voices of others from all races, ages, and backgrounds?
I saw a quote on tumblr once that said, ‘Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.’ I’ve learnt that you’ll only get out what you put in throughout this process. You have the capability to respect and soak in others opinions before you speak, so it’s important to do so if you want to be treated the same.
To provide another personal anecdote, when I was younger I was taught to cover up my legs by someone close to me. When I hit puberty my body kind of just exploded into womanhood which was actually really cool at the time because like WOMANHOOD!!! But I just didn’t realize it because I was being taught to cover up pimples, to wear tight tops to enhance my A cup breasts for the pre pubescent boys at gatherings and to wear maxi skirts and dresses to cover up the fat on my legs.
At the same time that puberty hit, I was also taking comfort in eating a lot of bad foods due to my parents’ divorce, which in turn contributed to a bit of extra chub on my body. So this certain person (an adult btw) told me day in and day out (and still does) that longer dresses and skirts were great for me, and that shorts and miniskirts were something I couldn’t wear. Being the naive person I was, I didn’t even think twice about what I was being told, instead I just did what I was told because that’s the way it had always been. It ended up making me feel really gross about myself. It didn’t make me feel deserving of the space in which I was invited to take up as a woman, let alone a human being.
Sure my legs are not skinny, I’m honest enough to know that, but deciding whether or not they control my worth as a human being or are the deciding factor on whether or not I’m allowed to take up space, is my choice. It’s all mine and it’s so satisfying just to know that I have the choice and that whatever my choice may be, it’s the right one and its damn right honorable.
So now I invite you to start thinking for yourself and in turn, doing things for just for little ole you and the world.
When I was 15, if someone had said to me, ‘You know, you don’t have to shave if you don’t want to,’ or ‘you can dress for yourself rather than how everybody else expects you to dress,’ I would have been like, ‘wait really? HOW COOL!!!’ If someone had just told me that I didn’t have to stick to the status quo on a more mature and deep level than High School Musical ever taught me, then I would have been a happy bunny bee (wtf is a bunny bee) from the get go.
Here’s how you do it.
If someone says something that you disagree with, stand up for what you believe in (in a nice and respectful way) and give your own opinion and be open to having a conversation about it. Tavi once said in a ted talk that feminism is a conversation, a process
Unfortunately a lot of the time speaking your mind backfires because people don’t like hearing what they already do or don’t know for some reason. Ruth and I had a long discussion about this whilst lying on the side of the road near her car after school one day and got really fired up about it. When talking about feminism in particular, people’s first reactions are to roll their eyes or to be like ‘Can you just not complain about feminism for like two seconds’ or they even straight up tell you to ‘Shut up‘ which is SO WRONG AND IT MAKES ME SO MAD.
You then have to find a way to push through this and resist the urge to give up. Keep on fighting girl, because the world needs your voice to make a difference, to get rid of the oppression no matter what you’re fighting for and also because of the fundamental reason that is, what you have to say and what you think is important.
It’s good to remind yourself at this point, “TAKE WHAT IS YOURS. TAKE UP SPACE.”
I also just wanna say, whilst all of this ‘GO GIRL, SPEAK UP, FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS, BEIN A TEEN ROX WHEN U CAN THINK ON UR OWN TERMZ’ thing is super important and inspiring to some degree (at least I hope it is), it’s also really important to remember that as women, gals, and possibly feminists, our flaws and mistakes are the key to our success.
My friend said to me the other day when we were driving in her car that she’s really interested in feminism but doesn’t know how to talk about it without feeling stupid because she feels like she doesn’t know about it as much as Ruth and I do. I found that really interesting because I don’t really know much about feminism myself either, I’m just figuring it all out as much as she is. The main difference between myself and my friend is that because I have learnt to trust myself and have given myself permission, I feel as though I have the guts to talk about it, even when I’m wrong.
Thinking you have to know it all the time is a really big misconception of feminism and also of simply just being a girl. It’s annoying to feel like you have to live up to your beliefs all the time and that you should never have to second guess yourself or feel insecure. That’s really not the case at all. Our strength comes from identifying our flaws and having discussions about it. I feel like if we don’t admit this, we feel alienated and reject ourselves from ever speaking up and speaking out and pursuing the task of thinking for ourselves.
This post kind of turned into a feminism guide 101 which is not the way I intended it to be, however you get my drift.
Trust yourself, learn things, talk about it, be awesome, inspire and aspire to be the coolest chicks you can be, because the space you’re taking up deserves to be and is supposed to be filled to da brim yo.