It was a long day of working outside in 96 degree heat with small children around a camp-fire, cooking up stick bread and dump cake and making our own butter. Six bottles of water, one packed lunch, and an entire outfit soaked in sweat later, it was time to go home and chill. Of course, first things first, I needed food. So I took some old black beans, added pepper jack cheese, onions, and a tomato, cooked it in the microwave and ate it along with bread and butter and yet another bottle-amount of water. And then I showered. Or, rinsed off would be the more correct phrasing. And, finally, I was then able to chill and read random fashion/living blogs and avoid Facebook like usual.
The reason that I mention this to you is because I was informed during my blog reading this afternoon that this is not normal teenage culture. Nothing seemed weird to me when I was making my own breakfast, lunch, and dinner; volunteering at an historic site; or not washing my hair. But, turns out that these are all faux-pas. During my reading based off of a Seventeen article, we are supposed to eat macaroni and cheese or go out to get good food. Then, we’re supposed to work at the mall in some fashion forward boutique where we will be yelled at by gorilla-managers and stomped on by customers for a small pay check. And, last, we’re supposed to take that second shower of the day where we rewash and then attempt to add the oils back to our skin and hair before blow drying and straightening our hair before just going to bed.
And it left me thinking, “What the fuck?”
Or maybe it just had me reeling that some ordinary day wasn’t ordinary at all in the standards of big businesses or media that would like to think that teenagers are all one stereotype. According to them, at nineteen, I should still be painting my toenails every night before talking to my gal friends about who I should totally go on a date with after watching that new Twilight film. They believe that women my age should be more interested in clothing, make up, and hair rather than careers, education, or our own opinions.
As much as I suppose I’ve known all of this goes on, it still manages to sicken me. Teenagers are not the same person duplicated over and over again. We are a force of many different people–perhaps even more varied than the majority of the adult world. As a woman (and, yes, a WOMAN) who is both an adult and a teenager, I feel that my word on this should be fairly solid since I can see both worlds for the time being.
Media outlets try to push every piece of merchandise and accessory available to teenagers through the presumption that we are all the same person, and maybe they make a lot of money doing that. But they also lose our trust when we are all labelled as trouble makers or fashion addicts or skater punks. As an example, there was an occasion once at the mall when I was fifteen when I was followed around by a security guard and then questioned just because I was a teenager and because I was wearing the colour black (which happened to be a black polo with a grey pearl necklace, mind you). When confronted, I commented that I was being pushed into a category I didn’t belong in simply because of my age and that it was blatant ageism. And that security guard no longer had my trust because of that, which is sad since authority figures should be respected–not flattened because you have no faith in them. I’m not saying that Media should be authority, but if it wants to act as such, then it needs to win over our trust by treating us as actual people.
So here’s what I have to say to those who believe my life is not the norm of teenage culture:
What is the norm? Is it really that abnormal that I don’t work in the food or fashion industry? Is it that abnormal that I love uni and learning? Is it that abnormal that I not only cook all of my meals myself but cook them very healthily? And is it really that abnormal that I don’t always wash my hair?
I mean, really, I like that my fifty year-old co-worker at the historic site quotes Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy while talking about politics or that my hair is healthy because I don’t over wash it. I like the food I eat, even though it’s not fried, full of chicken, or dumped in sugar. So to those who say that I shouldn’t enjoy these and that they aren’t normal teenage culture, stuff it. Here’s to all of those teenagers out there who are real people rather than what someone would like to think of them as–one dimensional zombies, bumping into each other while trying to buy another 26 dollars in anti-frizz serum.