March 30, 2014

Repost - How to NOT care what people think

Talking with my friends and family, especially women, most of us care a great deal what other people think. Worry and anxiety over your appearance, your personality and your actions plague our every day thoughts. I am victim of second-guessing myself... changing your outfit three times before you leave the house, trying to say something witty in conversation but it coming out all wrong, or reliving that embarrassing moment when you walked into a pole in the middle of a busy shopping mall. Yes, I did that.

Ultimately low-self esteem is responsible for us caring what others think. If you think you are pretty rad inside and out, then you aren't going to let other peoples' opinions affect you. You will be able to shake off those negative comments!

Not caring what people think is the hokey pokey to getting through each and every day—it’s what it’s all about. (GET IT?) I don’t know if not caring what people think comes before or after liking yourself, but I think learning to do either will help with the other.

Self-esteem is the kind of thing that sucks basically for every girl, no matter what your circumstances, probably because you are constantly told you can and should be better. 

“Be yourself!”-type stuff isn’t effective without the exhausting breakdown we’re about to get into.

I've taken this from a fantastic post I read on Rookie Magazine online. The writer split her advice into three parts: wearing what you want, your physical self, and your internal self. Let's get into it...

1. Wearing What You Want

People respect people who wear what they want because they wish they could be that courageous. The problem is that for this to work, you have to be courageous. Or at least, at first, appear to be. You have to convince yourself you don’t care before you start actually not caring. It's the fake it before you make it stuff.

Read interviews with people like Lady Gaga and cool old ladies who don’t give a shit if someone thinks what they’re wearing is weird—in fact, they invite it. Certain mantras will stick with you, and you’ll just have to repeat them to yourself throughout the day, on the day you choose to wear something “weird.”Healthy brainwashing, right? Here’s a gem from the late Isabella Blow, fashion editor and muse to Alexander McQueen: “My style icon is anybody who makes a bloody effort.” I typed it from memory, because this is one of my arsenal of phrases that go off in my head whenever someone is being a tool. I just love that.

You have to challenge anyone who gives you a funny look with a look of your own. Or don’t acknowledge them at all, because they’re not worth it! 

What will happen is that you will walk by and go on with your life feeling good that nobody’s got you down, and they’ll stand there a little dumbfounded. Maybe eventually they will grow up and realize how stupid it is to care about how other people look, and to expect people to care that they care, or maybe they’ll stay an asshole forever. You’ll probably never see them again. If you do see them again, because they’re a classmate or friend, their opinion might not be worth valuing. I get that it’s hard to just cut off communication with someone, and no one wants to do that over a single incident, but you just know now to be a little more critical of their opinions or views when they offer them. You don’t have to take what they say personally.

I think most people are afraid of dressing a little stranger or cuter because they’re afraid people will think they think they’re so great. 

Like people will be like, “OH, SO YOU’RE ALL ARTSY NOW?” Nobody will say this if you act like it’s no big deal, as opposed to constantly checking yourself in trophy-case reflections or whatever. If anyone does say it, you look at them, give one of the more subtle “you are an idiot” bitchfaces, and say, “…No?” Watch them squirm.

As long as you’re into what you’re wearing and it makes you more comfortable with yourself, it doesn’t matter if someone else thinks you’ve put together a perfectly composed outfit. Actually, the effect of your confidence will only add to how stylish your outfit seems. It’s like the best catch-22 ever.

Ignore the 'people-deciding-your-image-for-you thing'. Don’t let them. Make them feel stupid for trying. This might feel cruel at first, but have no shame or guilt. You have every right to wear whatever you want, and if someone is so narrow-minded that they need to get on you about it so that the world is easier for them to understand, they might need a reminder that it doesn’t work that way. They’re the ones who think so highly of themselves that they expect you to care what they think of your shoes. You’re just trying to have a good time. (Oh, and this strategy is not reserved for people who have reputations for being obnoxious and opinionated. It is not a contradiction to be nice or shy or whatever you think of yourself as, and still have to be like, every once in a while. 

Relax, bro, I’m just trying something different.

It comes down to this: if you dress “weird,” kind old ladies will come up to you on the street and tell you that you made their day. And that will make your day. It’s the most delightful thing.

2. Liking Your Body/Face

Is being thin a prerequisite to being the protagonist? You know this occurred to me last week when I was re watching one of my favourite childhood movies, My Little Pony. I mean I watched this VHS on repeat when I was six years' old, so much so that more than 20 years later with no intermittent viewing, I could recall every line.

The two girls in the story were brave, intelligent and thin. They were also incredible cute, with long blonde hair and a face that would rival any Disney sweetheart.

In this article, the writer noted a comment she garnered on her blog from a young girl noting that depsite her absence from mainsteam media, in all her reading, the protagonist was almost always skinny. And wanting to be a protagonist means wanting to be someone, as most people do. Apparently, your story is only worth hearing, you’re only someone, if you’re skinny—it’s like, the blueprint of a human. Once that’s down, you’re allowed to be as interesting and protagonist-y as you want! Apparently.

No matter how much people our age have been raised on girl power and believe in yourself and you are beautiful, ignoring the beauty standards of the culture we live in is close to impossible. And as this lady pointed out, these standards and expectations exist outside mainstream culture like reality TV and tabloids; they exist in punk and indie cultures, in “artsy” Tumblr cultures that are all about looking like a fairy, but only if you’re a skinny white girl. I often find myself guilty of the 

“Everyone should love their body!…EXCEPT ME” 

mentality, where you believe in body acceptance on a theoretical level, but are still hard on yourself about conforming to those standards. You know they’re bullshit, and you know you’re worth more than your looks, but you still can’t help feeling guilty or anxious over something like your weight or proportions or whatever thing is left on the constantly updated to-do list handed to us monthly by way of magazine headlines. Like, OK, say I got my “bikini body”—next month I’m going to learn that my eyes are way too far apart, then that my chin is a little too floppy, until I need to start ranking my earlobe shape on a 1-10 scale.

I think a big reason many girls shy away from calling themselves feminists is that they’re worried they won’t be able to live up to this idea of a Strong Woman, and that there’s no room in this club for anyone who isn’t 100% comfortable with herself all the time. You can totally be a feminist who has insecurities. Feminism isn’t about pretending we all feel like Wonder Woman, it’s about being honest when we don’t, and having the conversation on why that is.

But what if you don’t want to live in a bubble? What if you don’t want to totally reject the majority of our culture and live in a John Waters gang of outcasts, forever plagued by your secret desire to read Cosmo? What if you want to enjoy tabloids and reality TV and looking at shows from Fashion Week and photos in Vogue, but without letting the beauty stuff get to you? I think as long as you are discerning, you can totally be a part of that. 

But when you catch yourself thinking,God, I wish I looked like that, you have to remind yourself that the person in that ad is heavily Photoshopped, or sat in a makeup chair for three hours, or both. It’s not about pretending you don’t feel that way and keeping it all down and putting on a Strong Woman face, it’s about being honest with yourself when you start to feel this way.

3. Liking Your Brain/Personality/Soul/That Stuff

Prettiness is not only about being physically attractive. There’s a prettier kind of personality, you know? 

More smiley, more agreeable, charming, less likely to challenge someone on what they say or call them out for being an asshole. And because our culture, for a long time, associated girl with feminine with pretty, but not smart, there’s a message out there that you can only be one or the other—pretty or smart, feminine or funny, Sarah Palin or Hillary Clinton. Mindy Kaling wrote in her book that she has dealt with having to decide whether to be pretty or funny her whole life.

In reality, of course, plenty of women are both smart and pretty, funny and feminine, etc. This is why pop culture needs more strong female characters. Not like, I’m a superhero and I’m supersexy and STRONG and my boobs look really good in this catsuit but oh wait I’m totally two-dimensional. Like, multifaceted, with many layers. Like, you know, human. Can we get a list going in the comments of characters like this? Mad Men is great because its women are just as multidimensional as the men. I love Lena Dunham for writing characters like this. I love the characters of Ghost World and Dreamgirls and The Royal Tenenbaums.

When it comes to becoming the person you want to be, you have to know who you want to be first. And it’s hard to know what we, as girls slash women, really want. I may want to look a certain way because I know it will get me respect and people will pay attention to what I have to say. But I don’t really want to look that way, I “want” to look that way because it’s what they want, and I’ll benefit somehow, but I don’t know who comes out on top in the end.

The root of your confidence in all three of these not-caring-what-people-think subtopics is knowing that you, ultimately, believe in everything you look like or do or say, whether someone else challenges you on it or not. But that is a lot of pressure and responsibility! Because you probably don’t know what exactly you want—and we’re all young and human, so there’s no rush—you will probably find that you don’t believe in everything you ever look like or do or say. Someone might criticize you, and you’ll think about it, and you’ll agree with them. This is fine. It’s all part of figuring out what makes you feel most like yourself and, in turn, most comfortable with yourself. Nobody is perfectly consistent, and anyone who expects people to be that way is just trying to make the world easier for them to understand. This is what we call laziness, and not the awesome kind where you eat a lot of stuff and watch TV.

Just be wary, when you get down on yourself, of where the negativity comes from, especially if that place might be society or culture or whatever. I mean, I can’t even get started on all the fuckedupedness with the mixed messages we get about sexuality. We’ve all seen Black Swan, right? 

There will be bad days, where you feel like complete shit. Eventually it gets easier to recognize—somewhere between the point when you’ve been following a fight in YouTube comments and the point when you cried because you saw the VHS of Aladdin that you walk by every day sitting on top of your TV—that you are having one of these days. 

When you recognize this, spend the rest of the day being nice to yourself. There’s nothing you can do but get through it and know that you’ll wake up tomorrow and it’ll just be different. These are the days when you need to have some humility about the fact that you’re sitting in bed watching pirated episodes of Sonny With a Chance and eating peanut butter out of the jar.

“Self-esteem is for sissies. Accept that you’re a pimple and try to keep a lively sense of humor about it. That way lies grace—and maybe even glory.”

— Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates

This mindset is comforting to me in a way “everyone is beautiful!” is not.

I don’t want to believe that I should be concerned with being beautiful, I want to believe that I can be comfortable with myself even though I’m also the kind of person who follows everything that comes out of my mouth by cringing and questioning my own mortality. 

Yes, I get a little sad when I remember I’m too neurotic and too sarcastic, and that I choose to be loud or quiet at all the wrong times, to be a Sofia Coppola character, but also too vapid, too easily amused, to be as cool as Daria. But I’m not a Sofia Coppola character, and I’m not Daria, I’m me, and I want to look and act like me. And I’ll define me for myself, and it can be, like, this whole other thing that exists outside of body types and comparisons and references. I just wanna like what I like and do things I enjoy and have solid friends and be too busy experiencing this grand old thing we call life (holy SHIT where is my call from OWN) to worry whether I’m allowed to or not.

It’s easy to let your mouse slip to your webcam in a moment’s boredom and start wondering what’s so wrong with you that you can’t even get your eye makeup right, or realize you’ve been brushing your teeth for 10 minutes because you started staring at a blemish in the mirror. It’s inconvenient to seek out communities and role models who make you feel good about yourself when there’s all this other crap all around you.

It will always be harder to get to be someone who doesn’t care what people think, but that’s why you’re a tiny little awesome warrior for even trying. And isn’t that kind of exciting? Go forth, tiny warrior, and conquer.

Courtesy of

No comments:

Post a Comment