I have always been a big advocate for young people getting an education. Now, I know that school is not for everyone and that success is not measured by the number of degrees you have or how high your GPA is. I am also well aware that there are many problems with the current education system that is in place, from the elementary level to undergraduate and graduate level. But I can’t help but feel a twinge of pain when I see young people, specifically women with no motivation to get an education. Here, in Canada and the US, where the opportunities are boudless (with a caveat of course, because, systemic racism, patriarchy and homophobia present very real obstcales for many).
As usual, what sparked my interest in this topic was a conversation with one of my sisters. My youngest sister is entering high school. When I was her age I had known that I wanted to be an archaeologist for about 5 years. I even knew what university I wanted to attend. So, naturally, I asked my sister what she wanted to pursue after high school so I could help her pick her courses for the following year. To which she responded “A model”.
Now there is nothing wrong with wanting to be a model, but I inquired if there was something else she may be interested in pursuing. “No” she answered, and returned to scrolling down her Instagram feed. Which brings me to the point of this post. I can’t help but feel that young women are selling themselves short. We live in the age of Instagram models and social media fame. I think this is especially detrimental to young women who are bombarded 24/7 with the content of beautiful, skinny, Insta-models, makeup gurus, lifestyle experts etc.
I don’t mean to hate on these women. The last thing that I would do is bring down other women. I respect the women that have been able to turn their Instagram feeds into a business. But I think young girls need to realize that there is so much a woman can offer to the world than her appearance.
Social media is here to stay. It is neither bad nor good, it is a tool that can have negative and positive outcomes. I tend to lean on the side that social media with moderation is fine. But I know all too well the negative effects. The comparing yourself to airbrushed, photoshopped images of beautiful women, the wishing it was you jet-setting to some exotic location every other weekend. The measuring your self-worth by the number of follower or likes you have.
We now have a generation of young women who know no life before social media, who all want to grow up to be Instagram models and makeup gurus. This post is for the millions of young girls who pile on layers of makeup to look “beautiful” at 13. The young girls who begin developing eating disorders in their preteens to look like the latest Insta-sensation. To the young girls who spend all their time on their phones, in their rooms, wasting countless hours in group chats and scrolling through social media feeds.
To these young girls, I say this:
Do not underestimate the power of your brain. Beauty and brains do not have to be mutually exclusive. Educate yourself, read books, ask questions, challenge the status quo. Find a passion that drives you. And above all, do not let yourselves be defined by your appearance. Look up to your Insta-models. Admire them for their beauty. But look up to other women as well. Women who are raising their voices for important issues, women who are out there trying to make the world a better place, women who refuse to be defined by the superficial. Become one of these women.