Are you a girl? I'm sorry. Not sorry that you're a girl… That's awesome. Even though you may feel it necessary to apologize for your existence at some point, or at the very least feel that the anatomical things that make you a woman are either public property or EWW GROSS PERIODS. But it's awesome, totally! (No, REALLY.)
I'm sorry if you're a guy, too. That's a whole other set of crappy standards. Thing is, this entrenched gender binary has us all roundly fucked. Let me apologize some more for society.
I'm sorry that you see hundreds of advertisements every week showing half-dressed women. Even though most of them are in women's magazines, and the obvious tactic is "sex sells." Which is to say, I'm sorry that all advertising seems to be for the male gaze and that you are bombarded with images of what sexy is supposed to look like (hint: if you aren't covered in shimmer and sweat and draped over another woman with your mouth open, I guess you ain't it.)
I'm sorry every time you go to the beach or your neighborhood pool you can't look in any direction without seeing a girl basically in her underwear. It will automatically make you feel overdressed or fat. You will wonder if you are supposed to do the same thing. If wearing a one-piece makes you old, or if wearing your bikini just makes you look hideous, or if you don't pluck up the courage to put on a bikini you'll die alone, or if you don't start working to look better in your bikini you'll die alone, and by the way would you like to read these 15 tabloid issues from this month about BEST AND WORST BIKINI BODIES?
Or that you can't scroll through Instagram on "women crush wednesdays" or any day for that matter without an airbrushed girl in a thong staring you down. Again, that ain't you. Although if it is you, congrats! Now pose in your thong so we can all see. And then yell at you for posing in your thong. (Also, does Instagram do "man crush Monday?" If not, are you okay with that? Am I just old and confused because I don't Instagram? OH GOD I'M GOING TO DIE ALONE.)
Or that your buddy showed you that one magazine when you were 9 and you've never forgotten that moment because that was the first time you first saw a completely naked person.
Depending on what your buddy showed you, said naked person might have been doing some rather unpleasant looking things to another naked person or four, which may have made you feel scared. Confused at the very least. Maybe you liked it. And then maybe you learned later that only dirty girls and perverted boys like stuff like that. And then you wondered what was wrong with you. Or else, you later wondered what was wrong with you when your SO wanted to do that thing you saw in that picture one time, and you're not okay with that, and the moral of the story is that you're dying alone. Again.
When I think about the men and women in my life who are striving to survive this world sane, it honestly breaks my heart that they're surrounded with so much insanity.
I think about myself, and the fight I'm waging to not freak out that I'm not going to be young forever, and the knowledge that I will never be able to afford plastic surgery. Even if I could work up to getting it. Which I'm not sure I could. Because reasons.
I think about the high school girls I teach who don't seem to have a clue how destructive it is when they buy into the "You're only worth your cup size" mentality, or the boys who think you have to ask a girl for nude pics within a week because otherwise you haven't gotten anywhere, and she doesn't really like you, and you have nothing to brag about. Because women are points in a system and you don't have a high enough score.
But most of all, I think about the man I married.
Not only are we surrounded with a world that's obsessed with simultaneously encouraging and then condemning as cheap casual sex and relationships, we're encouraged to take part in seeing women as only objects of sex and instant pleasure. All the sports reporters are drop dead gorgeous because women don't belong in sports anyway except on the sidelines amirite? Oh, no, wait, there are women doing the news and reporting. They're fighting the age-out system. Same for any girl that's used for any kind of advertising. This works because a woman is only useful when she's young. Once they start looking like a normal adult human being with skin and organs and stuff, it's time to upgrade!
I'm lucky he didn't demand the same of me while internalizing the messages that it doesn't matter what the GUY looks like, as long as the girl is hot.
It feels like society in general judges you based off of how hot you are. And you know that real guys aren't all like that! So then why does every single movie and ad tell us they are? It's like an unfair standard for BOTH SIDES.
And maybe you're so consumed with trying to be "hot" that you'd put up with the most annoying, possessive, selfish partner if that person told you you were beautiful. Because that's all that really matters right? (Go ask most guys you know. They've done it. Girls too. We're all suckers for validation.)
Well, most of us.
Or maybe you're not putting up with a significant other right now who really isn't annoying, possessive, and selfish. Maybe you're with a really sweet and attractive person but you know deep down inside, if you're honest, you don't share the same goals and values, and you can't reconcile that with your desire for each other. You can't fulfill another person's life. That's just not fair for anyone.
And I haven't even tapped into pornography.
Porn. (Are you shocked? I said PORN. Want to be shocked some more? SEX. I know what it is. I have seen people do it. THE HORROR.) The fantasy world where men's desires are cast as first and foremost the most important thing in the whole world. And where women are cast as objects of sex and instant pleasure in order to fulfill that need at anytime, in any way, with any women you could dream of.
You may be really into porn and have a great, sex-positive relationship with it. You may also find it intimidating, scary, negative and corrosive. Thing is, it's not going away. It's becoming ubiquitous, and we have to think about what that means for gender roles in our society.
But enough with the pity party I've managed to throw.
ENOUGH with all the lies thrown your way about how you CAN'T be good enough for a hot guy, or more importantly, a guy who attracts you both physically and mentally.
ENOUGH with turning to the pornography industries and assuming that their way of treating your temptations and natural desires as a way to lavish themselves in money is the only way, or the realistic way.
ENOUGH with the petty guy who ignored you or hurt you and whose memory you've never been quite able to shake, or the girl who took her insecurities out on you and made you feel worthless.
Don't you think you'd want to be with someone who will encourage you in your dreams? Who will work in protecting your values? Who will respect you? Who will see you as worthwhile? Who will be by your side during the good AND bad?
Sure you would. And maybe you'd still rather not be single waiting around for said person. Have fun, date it up, just be aware of what you want and what you're really truly looking for.
Too often, we are all told not to settle, and we don't really know what that means aside from DON'T DIE ALONE, FOR GOD'S SAKE! Here's what it really means: don't waste your time and emotions on a person who really could care less about you and just wants you for what you will do for him or her. You too deserve someone who will see you as amazing and treat you accordingly.
Don't let any mistakes in your past discourage you from believing you can start clean. Choose to leave a life of hurtful messages and gender demands behind and start today if you haven't. You are going to be blessed beyond words and avoid so much heart break.
TO EVERYONE STRIVING TO DO JUST THIS: Good job - you are a decent human being! (At least, in this aspect. You might be a psychopath despite your gender views. In which case, well, I am not qualified to assess your worth as a person.)
Thank you. You are truly a light in this dark world. Please be encouraged. Keep fighting. We need you.