Image and Makeup

Being a teenage girl means that I am in one of the groups that is, arguably, under the most pressure to fit into society’s expectations of how to look. For me, the topic seems unavoidable as image is constantly the focus of the media.

The other day I was watching an educational YouTube video on one of the novels I’m studying at the moment and as I scrolled down the comments I was met with line after line not on the content of the video, but the woman’s appearance. I felt angry that the commenters actively chose to ignore people’s views and ideas to focus on their appearance. Not only this, but it seems that image decides the quality of the video. This is only one little example, but it’s an issue that I think needs to be talked about.

Makeup…

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With or without?

Some people think that women and girls must make a conscious choice: to wear or not to wear makeup. (That is the question!) Those in favour of no makeup may argue that we shouldn’t feel the need to impress others or feel pressured to cover up our insecurities.

I choose to wear makeup pretty much every day because it makes me feel comfortable and gives me confidence. Sometimes its the boost I need to make me feel able to do and try things, however simple, like introducing myself to a stranger or putting up my hand in class. I don’t think people should say that wearing makeup is always a bad thing for this reason. Though I agree we should accept and embrace ourselves, including flaws and insecurities, gaining confidence often comes from ‘fake it til you make it’. Makeup is a way of ‘faking it’ in a way, and this is why it is important to me. When I see people without makeup I respect them for either having the confidence to ‘bare’ themselves or just not caring what people think.

When I’m still half asleep on a school morning, trying to get my eyeliner to look even, (which is pretty darn hard) I often think angrily, why don’t boys have to do this? That’s just one of those things that has developed in our society that is hard to understand sometimes when you think hard about it, but is so familiar to us that it just seems natural.

Makeup is strange when you really think about it. We paint our faces like a blank canvas. Yet we aren’t blank. We have these sometimes amazing and sometimes not-so-amazing features. Freckles and dimples and beautiful eyes of blue, green, grey, brown, hazel. Lips someone secretly wishes to kiss and a cute little nose. Believe it or not, someone out there finds what you call your horrible chin quite attractive. Maybe not on its own, but because it makes up the beautiful, amazing, unique, special person that is you whoever you are. It’s okay to hide those features under foundation if you want to, and it’s okay to feel happy showing them. People may judge you, but you have to let them do that and let their nasty words and  cruel looks go over your head. In my opinion the important thing is acceptance and confidence. Accept yourself as your whole self, faults and all, ‘covered up’ or ‘bare’, and you have the key to confidence!

How to be (or try your best to be) a good friend

Being a friend is one of the most important roles we have in life. Without friends life wouldn’t just be boring-we wouldn’t have anyone to laugh about all the stupid mistakes we make, ring up when we feel worthless and pour out our hearts to and share our passion for XYZ.

We make friends with people for a number of reasons. Proximity: the first person we see on our first day at school at the sandtray can often turn out to be our best friend just for that reason. Then there’s a shared interest or passion. The main point is that we have a choice with friends, unlike family. Though, some people don’t seem to realise this-me being one of them for a long time.

At age sixteen experienced is one thing I am not. However, I’ve had enough of them to know a fair bit about friends. And I can honestly say that I am not a bad friend. So here are my five tips based on what I have learned about friendship.

  1. Honesty. This isn’t just important. This quality can tell you straight away whether or not you should be friends with someone in the first place. Liars aren’t friends. The issue is being able tell if someone is lying. It took me two years to realise that my ‘best friend’ when I was ten was manipulating me and I was allowing her to bully me because I believed her lies. I let her tell me that I wasn’t clever or good enough and that knock to my confidence still affects me today. I was in such a close friendship with her that even when I had recognised that I was unhappy, I took a long time to break off our friendship. But it was worth all the tears and upset because now I have a much better set of friends. My closest friends are the ones I can trust to be open with and we are just honest with each other. I mean, you don’t have to tell them everything. Some things you have the right to keep to yourself. Most of my friends don’t know that I had counselling a few months ago. My family doesn’t even know that either. That doesn’t mean I’m a liar, though. That is my personal information to share with the people that I want to tell and hide from those that I don’t. My point is that I believe the importance in honesty is not spilling your every last secret to the other person, but feeling comfortable and happy enough to share your thoughts, feelings and ideas freely.
  2. YOU. A friendship is a relationship between two people and, of course, one of them is you. So be you! I don’t have much confidence, but I am not afraid to be me. I’ll be honest, sometimes I get tired of being me and I wish that I could be someone else, but I can’t and I just have to embrace my personality. Then again, if you’re in a pretty bad mood it doesn’t mean you should feel like you have to act happy for your friends. Being yourself is also being human, meaning you are allowed to have days where you feel terrible. Friends are there to help you through those times.
  3. THEM. And of course, there is the friend. Don’t be so wrapped up in your own life, problems and drama that you forget about theirs. There must be a balance of support between both friends for the relationship to work. So let them be THEM. They are allowed to be upset, angry, cranky just like you are. And even if you don’t quite understand how they feel, they need you to be there.This is really important because it’s easy to disregard something just because it doesn’t make any sense to us. But just showing the support they need is sometimes enough to help you friend. Though, you must know them and want to know about them. Tiny things build up, so let them tell you about their grandma’s favourite type of tea or their secret ability to ride a unicycle. You don’t have to remember every detail, but how can you expect to be friends with someone if you aren’t interested in them? This is what I find key in making new friends. Trying to ask questions about them is so much more effective than waffling about yourself. Don’t turn into the person that stops listening until it’s their turn to talk! Like I said, it’s all about balance.
  4. Fun. Relationships can be complicated, difficult and just plain confusing; especially during the teenage years when there’s bitching, gossiping, immaturity, hormones, drama and all that jazz. However, we mustn’t forget that friendship IS about having fun as well as the mutual support. Often having fun comes from just being yourself and letting go. A lot of people seem to think that those who laugh loudest and act craziest have the most fun. Well, I don’t think that’s true at all. Most of the times I’ve had a load of fun have been simply hanging out, walking to and from school and on the odd occasion through a phone call. We didn’t need alcohol. We didn’t have to do anything particularly silly or stupid. We didn’t need to force it. We simply made jokes or chatted or played twister (yes, I know I’m sixteen years old. Yes, it’s still acceptable to play twister, I don’t care what anyone thinks. ) and had some fun.
  5. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Don’t beat yourself up about it. People change, things change, life moves on. Some friends will stick with you and some won’t-just like you do or don’t for others. Seeing people around school that I was once very close to laughing and talking with people I don’t even know is hard, especially when I wonder how things might have been different if I  hadn’t let our friendship fizzle out. But then I have to remind myself of all the great things I could have missed if that had happened. So the most important thing I believe to remember is to make sure you hold on to the friends you really love, and the for the ones you lose, there will be more to make. And even if you fight and do things you regret, there are ways back if they were (are!) a true friend. I called up my friend who now goes to a different school today. I haven’t seen her in person since October and I couldn’t help feeling kind of sad that I don’t see her everyday like I used to. I don’t make silly doodles in the margins of her notebooks or flick through mine to find hers. She doesn’t sit with me at lunchtime and laugh at the way I eat a panini. We don’t look across the room at each other and laugh at something only we find funny. But that’s okay. I mean, there isn’t going to be someone to do all of those things and be the brilliant person and friend the way she had, but there will be new people that do other things. One day I will look back and there will be so many memories and little things people do that makes part of their personality and part of their friendship with me that I won’t remember them all. That cheers me up.

In the end,the key to friendship and being a good friend is not through a set of rules. There is no recipe (and even if it was, it would be a souffle or something pretty darn hard!).

When you’re little your parents and schoolteachers try to teach you to be kind and respectful and polite. But they don’t teach you how to deal with the huge number of assholes you come across in your life. You have to make your way past them and learn to let go of them when you realise that no, they are not friends, they are simply assholes.

Even when you find the best friend or the group of friends you love, no one tells you that puberty and parents deciding to move across the country and just change in general have chosen to shake everything up like a tacky snowglobe. You land on the ground and have to start rebuilding again, whether it’s your fault or not. And that’s before people start dating. No one warns you that you are going to end up being the fifth wheel on what should be a double date; or that you and your best friend would have a crush on the same person. Or even that you might have to face heartbreak alone.

Friendship is harder than it seems. Often harder than romantic relationships. But I know that it’s worth it. It’s worth all of the tears, all of the lonely years and all of the pain because one day you look around and every face you see you trust and love.

This was a (late, sorry!) response to the writing challenge for Writing 201

Hermit

I’m done with the male species, or maybe

It’s away from all people I wish to flee:

The first ever spinster sixteen years old,

In the future my story will be told

I’ll be a hermit in a cave somewhere,

With a  small sign to say: strangers beware!

Alone with my thoughts to write out all day,

And read books until I’m all old and grey.

Happy little hermit, that’s what I’ll be,

Of the problems of people I’ll be free;

No need for makeup, no one to impress,

I can even bare my hairy legs, yes!

I’ll die alone an old sagging soul,

Smiling as death swallows my body whole-

Because I lived a content cave dweller,

They’ll write my tale into a bestseller.


(just to clarify, this is a jokey poem. I don’t actually want to become a hermit, though sometimes the idea is tempting!)

Writing 101: Don’t Stop the Rockin’

As I pressed my face into the comfort of my thickly sleeved arms, I did not think of the collection of bodies around me. Bodies talking, bodies laughing, bodies just sitting. I let my chin rest on the table. Wrapped in my own arms, I was protected from the awkward silences, the loneliness, the jokes not intended for me. In my small cocoon the sound of voices was soothing. All I could hear was the rhythm of their sounds, not caring for their words. I didn’t care what they thought. I didn’t care if I looked like I was crying. I wasn’t crying. I didn’t feel enough of anything to do that. My chin buzzed. Someone’s phone was going off on the table. I flicked my eyelids open, realizing that they had been closed all this time. The pale grain of the table filled my vision. For a few moments I followed the lines, hopping to new ones when they ended. Then, the vibrating phone had finished it’s plea for attention. I tightened the warmth and darkness with a gentle pull of my arms, closing my eyes consciously this time.

I could feel the grooves of my knitted jumper pressing an imprint into my forehead. But I didn’t care. I just wanted to sit there forever, holding my tired and sad head. I ignored the odd pokes and rustles attempting to rouse me at first; but soon I had blocked them out completely, I was in my own world. Just like I had tuned out of the words, I turned all sounds into my own lullaby. But I didn’t want to sleep. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but at that moment I was not going to move.

My cheeks began to grow hot, but a warmth I desired. I had been cold and lonely for too long. Here, in my own little space, none of that mattered. I remembered the rawness of my pink hands as they hung limply by my sides. I never really swung my arms much. Sometimes they called me a monkey.

This moment of quiet, lone weariness was like those long lazy stretches of time when you are just falling to sleep. Not quite there, but slowly losing grip of consciousness, slowly letting yourself be taken by dreams. Yes, this was like holding a dream. Time was becoming distorted, and I wondered how long I had been there. It could have been minutes or hours, it made no difference. I judged by the hum of noise that had lowered slightly that less bodies were surrounding me. Bodies gone to re adjust their faces and hair, bodies gone to fill up their brains with pieces if knowledge.

Somehow the sharp ring of the bell did not surprise me. It did not jolt me back up, back out of my trance. I slowly loosened my arms and allowed myself up. And I traipsed off to join the bodies, pretending to fill up my brain with a teacher’s supposedly useful chatter. But my brain was elsewhere.

Failure

Writing 101: Your Personality on the Page

What am I scared of?

Failure. Feeling like I have failed myself, or-even worse- others. I have always been one of those people that tries to please everyone. I used to get upset when things went wrong, when I caused a problem, when someone didn’t like me. But I have learned that some things you can’t control; you can’t expect everyone to like you! Still, I can’t help but feel like I have to make it up someone that doesn’t seem to like me.

When I say failure, I don’t mean little mistakes or accidents. I can cope with that. I mean flaws that were caused by me, that give me the responsibility for a downfall. I fear failure because of pressure to succeed. And it’s mainly from myself. My parents were never pushy or pressuring, or even that strict. Whenever we got reports at school, my mum would laugh because she didn’t need to put any pressure on me to do well-I always pressured myself. And I did do well. I’m one of those dark horses, always in the top set/class but quietly forgotten, until I shock everyone on results day. Nobody knows that to do so well I did so much revision my eyes spun, I went through several meltdowns and didn’t see my dad for months.

It’s not just school, though. I tend to be a perfectionist in most of the things I do. My idea is that if you do something, you have to give it meaning, and that usually means working hard. One of the reasons I love writing is because there are no right answers; you are free to express yourself with only the barriers you set yourself.

Fear dictates my confidence level. When I feel I have failed something or someone, it convinces me I am not good enough. I fall to a low that takes up to weeks and months to get out of. This is a vicious circle, making me fear failure even more because I don’t want to lose MORE confidence.

I used to have a huge fear of forgetting the memories I had spent my life making. Part of that fear was being a worrier, and I mean a really big worrier. I used to worry about every little thing. I’m not as bad now, but of course, I’m a teenager-there are plenty of things I worry about.

Growing up scares me, too. This time next year I will be seventeen. I could be driving. I will be applying for the university that I have visited and picked. I will have done my AS level exams. Some of my friends will be turning eighteen. It’s scary enough thinking a year ahead, never mind any further! I don’t know what I want to do with my life when I leave school. All I know is that I want to write.

Was that really four years ago?

Today, tell us about the home you lived in when you were twelve. For your twist, pay attention to — and vary — your sentence lengths

Branches and leaves, spiders and ants.I’d found a little haven, tucked behind the shed. A faded plastic ledge offered a small, but welcoming seat to be concealed by the thick tangles of bush.

Past the shed and it’s belly of books-which seemed to always be over fed- was the tiny garden. A circle of grass and pebbles and a neat little stack of potted herbs. Only just enough space for three cartwheels. Maybe a couple of handstands.

The sloped roof with my bedroom window jutting out mirrored the rest of the street. Inside, my cabin bed only just managed to fit in my minute room, with a little space on the floor for me to lie and contemplate life and existence. One of my favourite twelve year old pastimes.

My bedroom used to belong to a baby, with thick wooden shelves, designed for nursery rhyme books, and little wardrobe handles to match the walls, which had been painted over in lilac at my request.

My next favourite place was the loft. Though horribly cold, it was the only place where I could get lost for hours with my dollhouse. No, I didn’t ‘play’. I decorated, I planned, I organised, until I would have been the top interior designer of the doll house world.

The long, laminated floors of the living room, although unknown to my twelve year old self, would be the space for hours of blanket gliding at Christmas time. And the front garden home to a trampoline, which would eventually be eaten away by ice and rust. Years of laughing in the dining room at my sister’s face covered in spaghetti. The wall of photos smiling at me in black and white would accumulate more and more of my smiles.

In the small village, a bus journey from the world of school; a walk from my best friend’s house and a an even shorter walk to the shop. And in the shop was over-priced chocolate. Chocolate!

The Problems of a Bad Tree-drawer

How are you at receiving criticism? Do you prefer that others treat you with kid gloves, or go for brutal honesty?

I think I have improved a lot recently at receiving criticism. My sensitive character caused me to take things too personally. I once cried when I was told that I didn’t draw trees the ‘right way’. To be fair, I was only nine or ten. I didn’t even know there was a right way to draw trees!

I have come to understand that most criticism is intended to help the receiver improve in whatever they do. That helps me take honest views from people, because I do want to improve as much as I can, so I can be the best I can be at all I do. I still feel, though, that it’s just in my nature that I dwell on criticism possibly more than is necessary.

I would definitely prefer to have honest criticism. The ‘brutal’ part isn’t exactly enticing, but sometimes you need to hear it! I’d rather know what is wrong, or weak, than go on pretending that what I am doing is amazing.

The type of criticism I am worst at taking is about my posture. Whenever my family comment that I am hunching, it makes me even more self-conscious- when I hunch, it is because I am self-conscious! Another reason it gets to me is that it is so hard to change. I have become so used to hunching that I don’t notice and it is hard to straighten up without feeling awkward or stupid.

You get a lot of criticism when you’re a teenager. From people your own age, even if it’s just a dirty look from the mean girl. From teachers, with pressure added… From parents and most adults!

In terms of giving criticism, I think sometimes I am too subtle or try to be nice, which isn’t always what the person wants.

All in all, I am, and always have been, a sensitive person. So criticism is hard, but important and useful to me. And giving criticism can be hard when I am sensitive of other people’s feelings too.

3 Songs, 3 Stories

Today, celebrate three songs that are significant to you. For your twist, write for fifteen minutes without stopping — and build a writing habit.

My first song is ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash. This song represents the really rough period I went through last year. While I was struggling with my emotions, trying to express them and just trying to get through every day, this song would remind me of my brother. It would make me forget all of the anger and pain that he caused, and I would just miss him. I would remember the way he used to play it on his guitar in his room, not realising that I was listening. Because of everything that has happened, it is still hard to listen to without feeling upset.

‘Iris’ by The Goo Goo Dolls is just one of those songs that you can never get tired of. It reminds me of so many things; of my childhood, of the long car journeys to my dad’s house, of the struggles of secondary school and trying to work out who I am. If I could sing really well, I would just belt it out because it has so much feeling to it.

And then, there is ‘Love Story’ by Taylor Swift. This means a lot to me because it reminds me of the first stages of growing up, from when I was eleven and every day I would sit in my room and listen to Taylor. It helped me when I was bullied, because she was so easy to relate to and sings like ‘The Best Day’ proved that eventually things would get better. It was her first massive hit in the UK and ever since then, I have always loved her and her music.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-writing-practice/

Just Writing-Discoveries

I have discovered a few things today. First is that I am finding it very difficult to be an optimist. I feel like the pessimistic side of me is tearing me up and today it ruined my state of mind.

A levels are hard. I properly understood why people say there is a jump between GCSEs and A levels. It’s not a jump. It’s a leap over a gorge with only one leg. As you can tell, I need to work on my analogies.

I need to work on a lot of things, I feel. When I imagined starting sixth form, I saw myself striding in wearing a pretty outfit, scribbling away in notebooks and enjoying the free periods. Well, no. I can only blame myself, but every day I have felt self conscious and ugly about my clothes, my makeup or my hair. I even bought myself some expensive makeup brushes to cheer myself up and so I could do my makeup better. Then, in lessons I have begun to feel weak and useless. There is a simple answer to all of this; not to care, or to put it even more simply, not give a shit. But as usual, I care too much. I give too many shits (metaphorically speaking, of course). How can I change the way I think without changing my personality?

Basically, I feel inadequate. I keep getting stuck in the frame of mind that whatever I do, it will never be enough. Trying to do homework and revision while feeling like that is just impossible. So I’ve climbed into my bed with my laptop and am listening to upbeat songs. It’s kind of worked. I think that hopefully, if I get a good night’s sleep tonight and don’t dream about someone trying to murder me, I will wake up and start afresh with a better outlook on the day.

So there you have it. My feelings, my thoughts poured out. I think I might do this more often because I am starting to feel better already.

A Cocoon of Lonely, Rainy Thoughts

‘I feel like shit.’
I wonder how many people have thought that, or mumbled it under their breath, or even had the guts to just say it.
It’s funny how well that sums up how I feel and how I am right now. Well, the way I have felt all day.

I want I punch things. I want to cry, but my eyes are just dry. I want to be alone and read poems I don’t really understand. And I want that to be ok. To not have to worry about other people anymore.

However much I sound like a self centred brat who has listened to too many as songs and watched the rain for too long, I find it easy to convince myself that if I were to be cocooned in my own bubble it wouldn’t make much of a difference to others. It’s really easy to say that the amount of help I give is probably outweighed by the problems I cause. In some ways I know that’s not true. Still, it’s how I feel right now. The kind of pure melancholy that swallows you in loneliness so much that it’s sort of, well, beautiful.

I also know that I am wallowing. But, hey, we’re all entitled to our periods of wallowing, right?