I like getting older. I like that I am finally unlearning the toxic teachings of society and childhood. I like that I am finally beginning to like myself, as I am. I like that I am beginning to care less about the approval of random people. I like that I am becoming truly more self-sufficient, rather than pretending that I was while still desperately seeking the approval of others.
Toxic teachings. Society teaches that it’s okay to have masculine interests, as a female, as long as you’re still feminine in the ways that make you attractive to men. My stepmother taught me that it’s not okay to have masculine interests at all. For too long I’ve tied the approval of others to being overtly feminine, and felt distress at the lack of it in me. However would anyone like me? As my stepmother said to my face,”You will never have a husband or boyfriend.”
She tried so hard to transfer her insecurities to me and to some degree, succeeded. The agony of the last 18 years since puberty is proof of that. She saw that I wasn’t being harmed by advertising and my peers at a pace she approved of, and made sure to inject that internalized venom into me. So that I could be broken in the way she was broken. But some part of me has always resisted. The part of me that my stepmother hated. The part of me that understood her disgusting message and refused to submit.
Maybe I would have fewer issues with playing feminine if I fully internalized that message: You’re not good enough.
I ask these questions, assuming a female audience. How closely do you align to the ideal woman? Are you “woman” enough? Do you practice “hygiene” by buying and applying expensive cosmetics? Doubting your value even through powder and cream armor? How long would the beauty industry last if we were all happy with ourselves? What kind of world would it be if women could achieve the status of “real woman” without having to buy a product?
Tying the identity of “woman” to pricey clothes and beauty products is an insidiously evil thing.
Society and advertising will never stop with that message. It’s too profitable. I will encounter people every day that will be put off by me, unable to gauge my adherence to norms at a single glance. It really is their problem, not mine.
I find my feeting more and more each day as I reject the path laid before me. My time and money are my own, and I won’t give it to artificial insecurities any longer.
Getting older, to me, means getting better. Knowing, rather than trying to believe, that I *am* good enough.