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So I wasn’t going to write about this topic because it is hard to write about it without singling out a certain type of people. I’m going to try my best, and I apologize for generalizations. After browsing the internet briefly, I have come across this imgur post. The sauce being found right here.
For those of you who are not interested in clicking the link it is about a girl in high school who chose to wear her cosplay gear at her school. She was expecting backlash, but she ended up being attacked. Then proceeded to watch her peers praise the girl who had done the attacking on Facebook.
A little background on what social climate I was raised in: Growing up in this weird social bubble of the upper middle class of Orange County, California, I am well aware of this kind of behavior. My high school was teeming with it. Ideals of generic beauty were shoved down my throat at such an early age. I was expected to tan. To wear a size 0. To wear make up. Natural hair color? No way, are you insane?!
I had to try, but not too hard. I needed to look natural, but not so natural that I could be mistaken for being sick. I had to be attractive but could never EVER admit that I thought I was. I learned to count calories at 13. The daily allowance of 2000 was always too much, 1500 even seems like a high number. I can’t eat anything without seeing those numbers float across my face. These things are all taught. Ingrained into me, and most girls I went to high school with. Those are just the physical parts of it. Heaven forbid you had a personality quirk that was obvious. Your parents would put you on Adderall so fast, you wouldn’t even have time to blink.
What it all boils down to is if there is a specific set of standards set forth, appearance wise, that people expect and are comfortable with. Especially with young women. That standard ideal of feminine beauty was a strong suffocating stench in my adolescence that I just didn’t really understand, but tried hard not to stand out too much. When somebody deviates from that, especially in a high school setting, children can get mean. Especially in a fairly homogeneous community like Orange County.
This girl was expressing her interest in her hobbies. I can honestly say I feel this is absolutely no different than a football player wearing his jersey to school the day before a big game. He is interested in sports. He plays football. He wears his football jersey to school. Nobody blinks an eye. What is the difference here? However, this is the Eastyn removed almost six years from high school talking.
15 year old Eastyn is horrified by this though. 15 year old Eastyn told nobody that she read manga, or stayed up until 1am to catch reruns of Cowboy Bebop. 15 year old Eastyn saw the members of the Anime club get harassed daily, kept her mouth shut, her head down, and tried to assimilate. Only her closest friends knew of her interests. 15 year old Eastyn is wholly unsurprised by the fact that this girl was attacked.
24 year old Eastyn is a little nauseous by that realization. Children should never ever have to fear for their safety like that. She should be able to cosplay everyday without incident. As long as it isn’t distracting to herself or those around her, it is baffling that any negative backlash should happen at all.
The real question is, what is the correct thing to do? Is it to be understood that it is human nature that people will seek out those who are different and literally beat them into place? Do we even attempt to fight back, to let teens like her know that it really is okay? That life does get better?
Assimilation isn’t bad, in my opinion. I think there are cases where it is necessary to fit in, and gain trust and respect of your peers. Is this one of those situations? I honestly have no idea.
Please, email me or sound off in the comments. What do YOU think?