To be true to yourself in a world that is constantly making you something else is a great achievement All of us possess qualities that differentiate us from other human beings. These distinguishing features could be more or less highlighted in appearance, mindset or capabilities, but they will always persist and determine the nature of our personality. Unfortunately these characteristic attributes are deteriorating as humanity is moulding us into the “perfect person” influencing us to stray away from who we are (our so called “insignificant” selves) to what is desirable (a flawless model).
Staying true to yourself means to stick to what you believe in and being whom you were meant to be, it means not sacrificing who you are to fit in with others. Although it may seem hard during this day and age to keep true to yourself with peer pressure, the media and portrayals factorising our change in personality, why do we hide behind their expectations? Why do we change ourselves to be accepted by people who in the long run don’t matter? A lot of respect goes to those who don’t change themselves based on other people’s thoughts and indications, as they’ve overcome society and destroyed social conditioning.
As human beings we like to have an idea of whom and what we want to become. Alice Pung, author of Growing up Asian in Australia enlightened her readers of her teenage struggles she faced whilst growing up, she said “Most teen fiction gave me the idea that I needed extensive plastic surgery. ” Since the media has become one of the most powerful sources of information, we subconsciously condition ourselves to match what they feed us – aiming to be as pretty as Angelina Jolie or as skinny as Miranda Kerr.
However as we perfectly shape and sculpt our features into resembling these celebrities, we lose sight of who we really are and we just end up looking like a carbon copy of someone else. Each day magazines are printing out tips and tricks of being a size 6 and make up secrets which makes you appear older, these negative images being constantly shown and splattered across every news stand brainwash us into thinking that if we aren’t a certain way we won’t be “popular” or “happy” and therefore we feel unworthy; obligingly purchasing products that will “better” us.
According to Anastasia Goodstein, from Huffington Post, “80 percent of girls have purchased an item as a result of an ad in a teen magazine and 63 percent trust magazine ads. ” As a result girls become convinced that they require particular fashions to belong in a society that emphasizes materialism. Moreover, most of the fashion, diet and lifestyle advice is directed toward being desirable to men. Magazines stress sexuality as a central identity, minimizing all other attributes. The girls reading teen magazines begin to digest and trust the message that they are only sexual objects.
Peer pressure is the influence exerted by a social group or an individual, encouraging other persons to change their attitudes, values, or behaviours in order to conform to group norms. Peer pressure is most commonly associated with youth, in part because most youth spend large amounts of time in schools and other fixed groups that they do not choose and are seen as lacking the maturity to handle pressure from friends. Peer pressure can also have positive effects when people are pressured toward positive behaviour, such as volunteering for charity or excelling in academics or athletics, by their peers.
However Risk taking behaviour is seemingly the most common as these same people engage in experimenting in alcohol, drugs and sex – where these decisions are purely made on the basis of gaining popularity and fitting into these “in” groups. According to American Social Psychologist Wendy Treynor’s original “identity shift effect” hypothesis, “One’s state of harmony is disrupted when faced with the threat of external conflict for failing to conform to a group standard.
Thus, one conforms to the group standard, but as soon as one does, eliminating this external conflict, internal conflict is introduced . To rid oneself of this internal conflict, an “identity shift” is undertaken, where one adopts the group’s standards as one’s own, thereby eliminating internal conflict, returning one once again to a state of harmony. Even though the peer pressure process begins and ends with one in a state of harmony, as a result of conflict and the conflict resolution process, one leaves with a new identity—a new set of internalized standards. As everyone within the friendship group aim to please each other and wear the new fashion trends, they lose any form of eccentricity and appear as replicates rather than individuals. They’re all unanimous. As Simon Tong stated in Growing Up Asian in Australia, “If I couldn’t express myself, who was myself? ” Portrayals and stereotypes are what test us the most in this life. A stereotype is a thought that may be adopted about specific types of individuals or certain ways of doing things, but that belief may or may not accurately reflect reality.
Such examples include women aren’t as smart as men, men are the “backbone” and women can’t do as good of a job as a man. Whether or not we give into these typecasts define who we are. If you start to think you are worthless because you’re a female and start believing that men are better than women; you weaken your personality where you turn into a coward cowering and depending on others. These lingering effects hurt people in a very real way, leaving them at a disadvantage. Labelling people in a negative manner has a lasting detrimental impact on those who experience the prejudice. Past studies have shown that people perform poorly in situations where they feel they are being stereotyped,” says University of Toronto Scarborough’s Michael Inzlicht, who led the research. “People are more likely to be aggressive after they’ve faced prejudice in a given situation. They are more likely to exhibit a lack of self control. They have trouble making good, rational decisions. ” When being forced to live with these perceptions, we change who we are in a negative way, often leaving our real selves behind in search for a more enhanced self that is socially approved.
Whilst some elements of the world out there may want us to conform, to change, to be something different than who we are, it’s up to us to decide what we’re going to do about it. Eleanor Roosevelt affirmed, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. ” It is tough to stand opposed to the majority, to speak up in a world where judgement is echoed ubiquitously and that’s why to stay true to yourself in this detrimental world, this harsh reality, is a great accomplishment; it is rare for a person to be their true self without any underlying lies that factorized their true intentions.
No one is in control of you besides yourself; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change. We can choose to make our own minds up about what is good and what is bad. We can choose to form our own version of pretty, handsome, clever, etc. We can choose to like ourselves, value ourselves, or at least commit to learning how. Or we can choose to continue to see ourselves as inadequate and wrong and try to change ourselves. It’s up to us, not him, her, or them.