When I look at myself in the mirror, I see a woman. But I don’t think the rest of the world sees that and it has always caused me to grow self-conscious and frustrated. I can’t tell you how many times my mother and the other women in my life have told me that I should be thankful people think me younger than my age, but it isn’t a compliment at my age. It isn’t a compliment when a nineteen-year-old is confused for a fourteen-year-old, on any level. Why? Because there’s a difference between being confused as a twenty-five-year old for a thirty-year-old, and as a fourteen-year-old and nineteen. When you question a thirty-year-old of her age, you are questioning her beauty and youthfulness, not her intelligence and maturity. When you confuse a nineteen-year-old for fourteen, you are most definitely looking at their looks, but mainly you are judging their level intelligence and maturity based off the age you assume them to be.
I want to say I look like any other girl but I know for a fact that, that is a big fat lie. I am barely 5 foot one, with limited curves (my hips are wide, but my breasts and butt are average), a skin tone I like to call as 60% dark chocolate, and a mass of curly hair that is the best symbolic representation of my personality. For the sake of the age approximation of a woman, people normally zero in on height and curves. Now being short already brings my age down (interesting concept that shortness equals youth), but short with minimal curves? Yeah, you can see why people assume I’m fourteen. Most people might think that curves aren’t a factor but when you are short, they do. Many girls that are short have a full figure, a figure that comes with obvious age and development. Therefore, when people look at me they see a girl that is short and probably still developing. The reality is that I have been the same body type and height since I was around thirteen years old. My body isn’t changing any time soon…unless I do something drastic which is very unlikely. So where does height come in? Well, if anybody read the book “Divergent” by Veronica Roth they will remember the main character Tris Prior and her insecurities about her body. Tris, at sixteen, is in much the same predicament as me. She isn’t curvy, she isn’t tall, but she is still close to be an adult. There is a particular scene that I always reflect on, where Tris is with her mentor/love interest Four, and she wished that she was taller, as she believes it will make her look her age, or older which might be attractive to Four. She describes how that if she was tall at least she would appear “willowy”, and not “childish”. Height, and curves define a woman’s body, a body which everyone judges and comes to conclusions about her age, an age which defines her level of intelligence or maturity.
Now why do we honestly believe that age is a precursor to intelligence and maturity? Because the common misconception is that the older you are, the more experiences you have, the likelier you are to have yourself together, and understand the world around you. This is NOT true. I know and hear of plenty of people who assume they know themselves, know the world around them, and understand where they want to go, and then a year later break down and realize that they haven’t been honest with themselves. Maturity is something that doesn’t come with age. It comes with experience, and open-mindedness. In order for us to experience new things, new situations, and new ideas we must be open to criticism, open to trying new things, and open to new experiences. If you go into a new experience thinking you know everything you get the opposite result, you walk away learning nothing. You go in with an open mind, and you actually are able to learn something from said experience. It stands to reason that the older you are the more time you have to develop those learning experiences and cultivate knowledge, however, correlation does not equal causation. Just because one person is older doesn’t mean that they obtained as many experiences in their time on earth as the younger person sitting next to them. The older person might have just spent majority of their life playing video games, living with their parents, and doing the same things they did growing up. The younger person could have cultivated work experience, traveled, participated in different activities and movements, and met numerous people in either the same amount or less time. Age does not equal maturity. It’s the openness, curiosity and desire to experience the world around you that brings it about.
Furthermore, how you look does not equal your age, which does not equal your intelligence or maturity level. There is no way that this is the equation of how we should be seen in the world:
Looks (height, weight, curves, wrinkles, etc.) = Age = Experience = Intelligence = Maturity
Life doesn’t work that way, I’m sorry. Stop making judgments on who someone is based on how he or she looks.
I went to Sri Lanka for the first time in seventeen years this past summer, and almost everyone I met believed me to be fourteen…until I opened my mouth. When I told one man that I was eighteen after having spoken on a political issue he told me that he had never heard an eighteen-year-old speak like I did and was very impressed, but he had thought I was fourteen before I had given my age. You can see that there is no correlation whatsoever between my level of intelligence and maturity in comparison to my age or how old people perceive me to be from my looks.
When I look in the mirror I see a woman not with a height of five-foot-one, average curves, and high cheek bones. No, I see a woman with confidence, pride, and a desire to be happy. I see a woman willing to work hard, and prepare for a future. I see a woman who is done with the critical looks others throw at her as she walks in the grocery store, sits in a class, or attends a party. I see a woman that has had enough with the stereotypical thoughts that run through a person’s head when they first see a woman. This is the woman in me. Can you see her? Can you understand her? Maybe you can. But if you can’t, that means that you aren’t looking deep enough. How old I look and what my age actually is doesn’t define who I am. I define who I am, because that is the woman in me.
Oh Victoria’s Secret, the largest lingerie store, whose name almost always pops up in every movie, or book that mentions bras or panties. It’s the store that has grown so large that is known by just about everyone. I would say that everything they have there is gorgeous, is of high quality, and has a classy look, but that doesn’t mean I agree with their entire brand. As a nineteen-year-old woman, walking into Victoria’s Secret is one of the most intimidating things ever. The books and movies make it look sexy, exploratory, and fun, but honestly that is the furthest thing from the truth. Bra shopping as it is can be stressful and irritating, but walking into Victoria’s Secret is a whole other level of stress.
When I go bra shopping I make sure I know what my bra size is, and for every other store my size stays the same. This is not necessarily the case when I walk into Victoria’s Secret. Their sizes are completely different from stores like Kohl’s, TJ Maxx, Marshals, JC Penney, or Macy’s. Where I am a 34 B in those stores, I somehow become a 34 C in Victoria’s Secret. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but then the bra that I try on there is actually a size smaller than the one I wear. That’s when I begin to question whether I am actually a 34 B, maybe I imagined it. Maybe I’m a 34 D. But wait, my breasts are smaller than my girlfriend who is a 34 D. But the 34 C and the 34 B bras don’t fit me. What on earth is my size? I end up having to follow the sales clerk around all over the store and none of the bras seem to fit quite right. Many would say that I should take the bra that fits as best as possible and just go, but here’s the thing, if I am going to buy a high quality bra that is more than $30 then I want it to fit properly. Also, bras are not a t-shirt that will shrink or stretch. They are items that you want to fit right the first time, that way you aren’t in public trying to adjust yourself because either your breasts are hanging out or you can’t breathe.
For those of you who caught the $30 price and think I am joking, then I must tell you that I am not. High quality is not cheap, which makes sense, but in that price I want to pay for only the quality not the brand name. In reality, $15 of that $30 is probably for the brand name, while the other $15 is for the quality. Though all of my friends and I can agree that Victoria’s Secret sells very good quality bras, we can all also agree that the prices are just way too high sometimes. But this is true for all retail sellers that sell bras and panties. I will never understand why such necessities are so pricy. Society not only insists we wear bras and panties, but then has the nerve to hike the price up that many women cannot afford them! It’s a basic necessity that women need, therefore I don’t think they should be priced so high in ANY store. Victoria’s Secret sets the standard, and I believe if they come down in their prices so will their competitors and other stores.
Aside from the sizing and pricing, there is the fact that the store itself is very intimidating. You’re surrounded by half-naked, gorgeously sexy.
women who are modeling amazing lingerie. It’s very overwhelming, and I feel like a little girl asking the sales clerk for help when I’m looking for a plain t-shirt bra. How unsexy is that? Victoria’s Secret markets sexy, it’s what sells, but they don’t seem to understand that many women just want to buy a bra that lasts more than two years. The quality of the merchandise is perfect, so it would make sense that every few years I’d stop by to pick up a couple bras and panties that will last me a few years. However, for whatever reason every time I walk into the store I feel as though I have to buy something sexy with lace, silk, or satin or else I appear like a baby. In addition to that, when I try on the lingerie I feel like a total dork compared to the gorgeous model who is on the back of the changing room door.
It’s even more uncomfortable when the store doesn’t exactly cater to your size. Many women don’t have model figures, because we all come in different beautiful shapes and sizes. You wouldn’t know whether Victoria’s Secret sells lingerie for plus sized women, or women slightly over the weight limit of a model. Why? Because all of their models appear to be the same exact size. That may not be true in reality, but photo shop is a photo editor’s favorite tool. If Victoria’s Secret truly wants to be the biggest, well respected, and liked lingerie store they need to start marketing to all women. I love watching Lane Bryant commercials that celebrates body diversity compared to the Victoria’s Secret ads that I see. Lane Bryant doesn’t just use women of all sizes and shapes, they also use models and actresses of different skin colors. Sure Victoria’s Secret has models for African Origin or possess a slightly darker shade of skin, but you don’t see models that are dark skinned. Furthermore, the hair of all the models are long and flow, or short and flow, but not one of them have curly hair. It doesn’t seem like a big deal but this what today we define as beautiful. If we exclude women of dark color, of curly hair, of various sizes then we are indirectly saying they are not beautiful, when that is not true at all.
In today’s day and age teenage girls, and young women need to be empowered when watching ads for panties and bras, because those are items that define them. They need to be able to identify with the models on TV. The need to see their body shape in them, see their skin tone in them, see their hair in them, see their confidence in them. Body Diversity is what sells, not the same shape, same or similar skin tone, or same or similar hair type. As the largest seller of lingerie, this company is the prime of example of using the body to sell products. And as the largest seller, they are the ones who define what is deemed “beautiful”, so they have a responsibility to all women to show that everyone is beautiful no matter their shape, size, or color. I believe that in order for Victoria’s Secret to truly succeed or be respected they must take on this responsibility, and help change our capitalist society’s view that there is only certain people that can be deemed “beautiful”. They also have the responsibility of showing that all women should be able to afford bras, panties, and possibly even sexy lingerie.
I will not be watching the 2016 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, but I do know that I admire the fact that they are the only store that has made such a big name for themselves just by catering to women. I just hope that they will make amends and set the stage for a much needed change in the definition of “beauty” and “affordability”.
It’s kind of funny, if not slightly irritating watching or listening people form and ask the same question over and over again, when I say I want to be a writer. Hell, I don’t even have to say that, I simply have to state that my major is journalism, and everyone goes into a frenzy. You won’t believe how many times I end up having to make people understand why I do what I do, and why my goal is what it is. It’s stupid. You don’t see people questioning a person who wants to do medicine, or someone who wants to do engineering. No you always see the people who want to do liberal arts suddenly put in front of a judge, a jury, and an executioner.
It’s hard as it is to succeed in a liberal arts field, I don’t need another set of people judging me, not based off of my talent and capabilities, but on my desire to be a writer. People in today’s society don’t quite understand the need for liberal arts. When they hear the term, liberal arts they think: writer, actor, singer, poet, etc. All of which are highly competitive careers. And because they are so highly competitive, people only know the odds of making it big, and criticize those who want to try their talent.
Of course, there is competition within the STEM fields, but you don’t exactly hear about it, why? Because there are an abundance of engineers, doctors, IT associates, and on and on. Some would say that’s because the job is easy. No, that’s not the case at all. The thing is that all the people who are incapable of performing these jobs are weeded out through college. So many students drop chemistry, physics, calculus, statistics, biology, and many other courses that are needed to succeed in STEM fields. Why? Because those courses are pretty freaking hard! But you don’t exactly need a degree to be a writer, a singer, an actor, or many other liberal art professions, mainly because these careers aren’t based off of an academic understanding, but off of a talent that people have cultivated outside of the classroom. It’s like sports. You don’t learn how to play football and succeed at it by sitting only in the locker room and strategizing plays. No, you go out and try new strategies for new plays, that will help win games. STEM is taught solely in an academic and classroom understanding. Sports and arts…not so much.
This makes people think that, “Well can’t anybody do it then?”. My response is, “Well, obviously not, considering the high ranking of competition people have in succeeding in Hollywood, reaching top charts in book sales, and headlining the song billboards and radios.” It’s like they can’t even acknowledge that it takes real talent, skill, and quite a bit of patience and motivation to get someone where they want to be in the artist world. But then the next argument is that, “But what about the people that make it big because of their connections, and money?”. My response: “Yeah, well corruption is going to exist everywhere in the world because of we are humans, and we are prideful, greedy, hedonistic, creatures. There’s corruption in the arts for sure, but also in politics, business, and yes there is definitely corruption in the STEM field.” Bet not everybody knows or acknowledges this idea. Yes my dears, there is definite corruption in the STEM fields. Scientists who want to sell their findings to the highest bidder to make a name for themselves, people who steal each other’s research in order to claim their own glory, people who simply decide that sabotaging an associate is worth more for their job title. Here’s an example: when researching the shape of DNA, Rosalind Franklin was the first to actually discover that DNA was shaped in the form of a Double Helix. However, she was also working, not necessarily with, but around two other male scientists, Francis Crick, and James Watson. These two noble, young, male scientists didn’t discover the formation of DNA until they looked at, and stole a couple files that Franklin had been researching through the man’s lab she was working in, Maurice Wilkins. Maurice had allowed Rosalind to work in his lab, and when she wasn’t up for sharing her findings he allowed Crick and Watson a look at her information, without her permission. Guess who took credit for the “discovery”? Yes, the two young, male, scientists. Who got the Nobel Prize for it? You guessed it, Watson and Crick. So, the next time someone wants to point out the corruption in the artist world, take a look and the corruption that surrounds every field. You can’t get away from it.
So why is there this stigma against artists? Why do I constantly have to deal with the crooked looks, and constant questions about whether my parents (specifically my father) are okay with me becoming a journalist or a creative writer. My theory is that many people have grown up a certain way to believe that STEM and academics are the only way this world progresses, and the only way to make money, but I can tell you differently. You need creativity in order to progress, without it there’s no way technology could have advanced, infrastructure could be constructed, policies could be made, and critiques of society could be heard. When people come up to me and ask whether I’m sure I want to become a writer It ell them I’ve wanted it for years, which I have. I know where I want to go in life, and I know what paths are open to me in order to get there. The problem is that when people’s ideas are challenged and questioned they suddenly feel the need to impose their own beliefs upon others, in order to make themselves feel as if what they know is still true. You can believe that STEM and academics are the only way to make money, but that doesn’t mean I have to believe it, so don’t try and convince me otherwise. People need art for progression, but at the same time, people in artistic fields shouldn’t completely shut themselves off from the sciences, because we need to understand technology and sciences in order to make decisions in today’s society. You can’t live without one or the other, but what you choose to make your career out of shouldn’t be constantly questioned. Both sides are important for our world, it’s not a competition on which one is better, because they are both valuable.
In summation, the arguments against arts and for STEM fields are ludicrous, just as any argument for art and against STEM would be. Both are competitive fields, just in different areas. Both have corruption, and lastly, both lead people to happiness. So let’s set aside this stigma for either field, and in this case the arts because that’s what I’ve experienced most, and just accept the fact that people don’t need unsolicited advice. If I wanted your advice I would have asked for it, so please excuse me while I return to my road to self-growth, hope, and success.