Generation Y & Z, I have a bone to pick with you.
Now I’m not hear to scold you like some patronising big sister figure. My intentions are much more earnest than that. I simply endeavour to offer up a slice of rebellion that seems to be amiss in our young people’s hearts.
I most humbly reject our generation.
There, I said it.
I have become so disenchanted with the limit of the majority’s aspirations. Our grandparents had the hippie generation, who fought for peace against war, our parents even dabbled with artistic expression, aspiring to bring change of some sort and stick it to “the man”. Our generation however has become a selfie-infatuated scourge of vain and shallow masses.
It’s more important to master the basics of filters and Photoshop than to read a book, watch the news or do something – anything – to make some tiny difference in our world or in someone else’s life.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with consumption. It keeps our economy flowing and sometimes a little treat every now and then is just that – a treat. There’s nothing wrong with getting a new hair-do or rocking some sharp-as-a-knife eyeliner if that’s what make you happy, but when our lives revolve around designer bullshit and the latest thing-a-ma-bob that reality star is toting on her Instagram, something is seriously upside down in our values.
Material shit is just that: material shit. It won’t love you. It won’t fill a void. It won’t make you any happier. Why live pay check to pay check shelling out for shit you really don’t need and adds no real value to your life outside of how many likes you can get for it on your feed?
For a generation that seems to tout it’s empowerment and expression, there’s a whole lot of clones marching one by one around the world at the moment. They look the same, think the same, act the same. It’s not cool to be different, but was it ever? Why are we still so bloody scared to be unique?
There’s something to be said for a generation that is so technologically advanced that it can connect to anyone anywhere at anytime. But what exactly are we doing with that power? Posting provocative photos of ourselves because we “don’t care what anyone thinks”? If you don’t care what anyone thinks why are you limiting your networking reach to a basis of flesh and sexualisation? Yeah sure, own it. But what exactly are you trying to do? You’re wanting validation based on what you think is important: your looks.
It’s not your fault. It’s everywhere. We’ve all done it. We applaud these women who stroll the streets in lingerie and 6-inch pumps for their empowerment. It’s confidence. That’s awesome. But is that all we want to aspire to? The height of our ambition is to feel sexy? Yeah, okay. That’s great and all, but what about aspiring to be funnier, smarter, kinder, wiser, tougher, successful? Does the crux of our confidence originate and end solely with our sex appeal?
I’m not going to trash anybody but let’s be real. Our most famous and coveted celebrities are not encouraging individuality or self-acceptance, they’re not promoting human rights issues or educating kids about corruption in the media and in politics. They are teaching us how to contour and cinch in our waist-lines. The height of their influence starts and ends with superficial gratification.
And the media doesn’t exactly help.
So and so has stretchmarks! So and so packs on the weight! So and so has lost a shitload of weight! Here’s how you can do it too! Here’s how you can look like her. Here’s some overpriced, unnecessary clothes you’ll only wear once but you have to buy.
Granted, they cater to demand. But a majority of the articles you’ll find in current media revolve around celebrities. It’s what we want to hear, isn’t it? We want to know if she’s got lip fillers, if she’s got a boob job or if they’re not eating something different today.
Did you hear about that teenage boy who’s invented a low-cost way to detect pancreatic cancer and who’s joining the fight against the deadly disease that’s already killed over 3,000 Australians this year? What’s his name again? Yeah, I don’t know it either. I can tell you the name of a miniature dog a reality star just gifted her daughter, though. Priorities, huh?
There’s nothing wrong with lightening it up every now and then and ogling a beautiful dress or killer boots if you like them. I just hold issue with the craze that you have to buy something just because it is “on trend”. I hold issue with anything that makes people feel shit about themselves, whether that be ridiculing or segregating people for dressing or looking a little different or not being “good enough” for the increasingly impossible idea of perfection. We all know the stories of what supermodels are doing to themselves! (Google cotton balls and models, and former Victoria Secret model Erin Heatherton). There are girls starving themselves, spending themselves broke just to keep up with the demand of being “in”.
There are so many girls crying themselves to sleep each night and hurting themselves and others because they expect to be these bikini body, barbie doll pin ups. It’s taking so much from them.
I live by the rule of not taking myself or life too seriously, but come on, when we are serious should it not be about the fact our politicians just gave themselves another pay rise at our expense or should it be about whether or not we can get the latest cosmetic kit before it sells out because: priorities.
Once upon a time, boys and girls, I was what you could call a Barbie girl. I dressed up to the nines, believed (and was told) I was nothing without my looks and thought my only value to others was based upon pleasing and appeasing them. I was a glass doll. I was too naïve and my heart was too open. I didn’t stand a chance. I would be and do whatever was expected of me (insert childhood trauma flashback) because I thought other people’s opinions mattered more than anything. I was very disposable. There’s no respecting someone like that. I was a whipped dog. I’d be kicked and beaten and ridiculed but keep coming back for more, in hopes that my devotion would eventually result in affection.
Pretty soon that dog is going to decide it’s not coming home.
Now, I’m a little rougher around the edges. A little worn and creased but with a middle finger to go with my smile. I swear a lot, am unapologetic about my taste in 80s rock, talk too much and laugh way too loud – mainly at myself – but I am free. I scroll through my social media feeds and instead of becoming wide-eyed at what’s-her-name’s push up bra that promises to push your tits up to your chin I can’t help but have a laugh (and let’s be honest, a little snort, at how bloody ridiculous our species is). The female form is incredible; beautiful, strong, powerful, sexy. It should be admired but instead it’s made a mockery out of. It’s seen as nothing more than a couple of useable holes.
I’m an easy-going chick but I’m not going to be controlled, bullied, abused or manipulated into being anything other than the awesome me. I’ve fought like hell – tooth and nail – to be me and get where I am and I’ve got the scars to prove it, so I’ll kindly tell the world to stick it where the sun don’t shine if they tell me I’m worth nothing more than my lips, my tits and my hips. I will get fit because I want to feel good about myself not because I want some asshole to leer at me.
I will not buy that overpriced piece of cloth just because it’s in a magazine. I will not get around in barely-there daisy dukes or roll around on a car to get a guy’s attention. I will not go back to being that image-obsessed girl I used to be. I owe myself so much more than that. I have so much more respect for myself than that. I will channel my inner-Shrek and embrace all my many wild and wonderful layers.
Take the piss out of it, girls. Laugh at how ridiculous this culture is. Have some fun with this life! Don’t feel you have to be a certain way to enjoy your sexuality. Let your freak flag fly. Be sexy if you want, embrace your sexuality and own all your kinks and bedroom antics, but don’t cheat yourself out of having some depth outside the bedroom. I for one love sex and believe that women should be able to say that without being labelled as whores, but I’ll be damned if I devote every minute to catering to some guy’s needs above my own ever again or changing myself to suit them.
There’s a huge reason why men are favoured over women in our society. Hell, in our whole species. It’s because they work and value aspects of themselves besides their looks. They don’t obsess about being done up perfectly so they can have a fun night out. They care more about the having fun part. Their priorities are a whole lot more different than ours. They hustle, they venture, they live and we’re still worrying about whether that skin-tight dress makes us look skinny enough. We can’t expect to be respected like they are if we don’t respect ourselves now can we?
Notice how the male celebrities we admire we label as funny, down-to-earth, philanthropic, sweet, a real great guy. But when we compliment female celebrities it’s always “beautiful”, “sexy”, “toned”, “cute” or “pretty”? And when we go to insult a woman where do we hit ’em? Right where it hurts: in the looks department.
We’ve got to stop giving each other so much shit over our looks. Who gives a shit? We’re all going to be old and saggy in the end.
It may be too late for us but maybe we can teach our daughters to be something more than their looks. We could take a page out of the fierce and beautiful Pink’s book and teach them that it’s better to an “outcast” or a “girl with ambition”. (Do yourself a favour and reacquaint yourself with her song and music video “Stupid Girl”. This is pure gold and great for a chuckle.)
And on that note, Pink is someone I’d say is paving the way for a new generation of female entertainers. She fights the norm, is unapologetic in her individuality and doesn’t sing about shallow shit. She sings about issues that matter and has a whole lot of fun while doing it. She’s sexy but you don’t think about objectifying her when you hear her name, you think about everything she stands for.
Lennon and Marley started paving a path but it’s scarce been walked upon by Hollywood’s elite. Perhaps that will change?
You can’t be a legend if you’re following the crowd. Hashtag that.