41. An Open Letter to Society

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Dear Society,

I understand your push for perfection. I realize in many cases striving for perfection is the only way to move forward. My own family has trained me to never settle for less, as that is the only way reach success. But as a young girl living in this society, I would like to point out a few things. You see, your quest for perfection, while no doubt stemming from good intentions, has negatively effected the younger generations for decades. Whether you intended to or not, you have handed us unattainable standards and images of the perfectly dysfunctional lives all young Americans are “supposed” to live. Everywhere I turn, I see magazines full of “perfect” men and women living their “perfect” celebrity lives, I see commercials, movies, and television shows featuring unrealistically fit and athletic individuals, I see ads promoting products meant to transform us into the “perfect” people we all should be–the list goes on.

Honestly, I am a consumer myself, and I know little about your agenda other than how it affects me and the people I love. I can only tell you what I know and what I see. And what I see is a group of young people searching for their worth and happiness in superficial things. I see young girls worrying about their weight instead of living carefree childhoods. I see little boys worrying about girls instead of playing outside with their friends. I see teenage girls, including myself, dressing like they are thirty-five, and teenage boys spending hours in the gym trying to attain a Ryan Gosling physique. I remember one day my ten-year-old sister coming home from school and begging my mom to put her on a diet and exercise plan so she “wouldn’t get fat,” even though she was nearly underweight for her age. I remember my five-year-old sister coming to me and begging me to put make-up on her so she could “look like the girls on Disney Channel.” Through conversations with most of my friends, I learned we all began wearing makeup and worrying about our appearances because you told us we had to; that we needed to look good to avoid ridicule.

But we all know we can’t live up to the standards you’ve set, even if we don’t admit it. No one’s perfect, not even the celebrities you parade in front of us, but you’ve done a great job of convincing us otherwise. And the result is the scene I witness every day of my life. A scene of cookie-cutter individuals living cookie-cutter lives; no one willing to accept who they are, and everyone willing to transform themselves into who you want them to be.

I can’t change the way you do things, but I can push my sisters in front of me and show you how the reality you’ve fabricated has negatively affected them. You claim to think so highly of the future generations, yet you continue to dilute their young lives with everything fake and unattainable. You may not even target them–in fact I doubt the little ones cross your mind when you go about your business most of the time–but I hope you realize…they notice everything. They pick up on every detail. They can’t tell the fake from the reality. If you tell a teenage girl she needs to look perfect to have worth, any little girl standing nearby will believe it, too. If you tell a teenage boy he needs to have abs to be a man, any little boy standing nearby will believe it, too. I can’t make you do a one-eighty, but I can show you the ripple effect you have on all ages, especially the younger ones. They’re watching you. We all are.

Sincerely,

An 18-year-old girl

XXIII. 2 Poor Kids

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He picks her up in a Benz,

But my lover comes by himself and a dozen roses.

He probably stole them.

He’s got a smudge of mud on his eye

Here to make me break into a smile,

‘Cause he drives them mad.

Dollar signs all around us,

We sneak onto the city bus.

Too blinded by what we have

To notice your mean old laughs.

And we’re just two poor kids from a really rich city,

What a pity.

‘Cause we’ve got a love story unlike the rest,

No fancy suit and no fancy dress,

 Just us.

– “2 Poor Kids” by Ruth B.

XXII. Lost Boy

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I am a lost boy from Neverland,
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Usually hanging out with Peter Pan.
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And when we’re bored, we play in the woods,
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Always on the run from Captain Hook.
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“Run, run, lost boy,” they say to me,
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Away from all of reality.
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Neverland is home to lost boys like me,
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And lost boys like me are free.
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– “Lost Boy” by Ruth B