She’s bossy and always wants things her way. She’s the opposite of your BFF voice- she’s your total enemy. She wants to make you feel miserable and uses her sidekick, Media, to convey her opinions to you. Society is a perfectionist, she’s never happy with herself or her crew. She’s the queen of the “popular” crowd. No one has the courage to stand up to her and be different.
We all saw what happened to those who did try to get out of Society’s grasp and go their own way….they became outcasts. She is responsible for the messages that bombard our magazines and TVs. “Lose 10 pounds in 20 days!” “Flat stomach NOW!” I used to listen to her. I got lucky though, like Harry Potter with Voldemort. I survived, and I have scars to prove my experience.
Maybe not ones shaped like lightning bolts, though.
It was these messages on the covers of magazines in the grocery store that made me feel self-conscious in 5th grade. Before that year, I loved my body. Once I started paying attention to Media’s words written in the pages of magazines and commercials, I knew I didn’t fit her standard. Little did I know that I was actually at a healthy weight. I began to eat “healthier,” and eventually Society and Ed (short for Eating Disorder, Society’s counterproductive partner) controlled my life. I lost my voice and I wasn’t myself. I couldn’t enjoy what I used to love, and I couldn’t stick up for myself.
In early 2010, I pulled away from Society and Ed.
The turning point for me was when I couldn’t eat a bite of pizza, and my parents were screaming at me to eat. I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until I ate the entire slice. It took me over two hours to eat one slice. Later that night, I cried my eyes out. I cried because I didn’t have things in my control. I wanted to eat, but the enemy voices in my head were telling me not to, that I would get fat. I came to a realization- when would this end?
When was I going to be skinny enough for Society? When I heard my own answer- “Never”- I knew that this had to end and I was going to have to fight Society and Ed. After a long battle, I claimed victory.
Society’s words and messages have led to eating disorders and self-image issues in so many girls (and even some boys). Sadly, instead of listening to doctors, we listen to Society- if we can fit in with Society we’ll be considered “popular.” Society has caused my friends to ask for reassurance that it’s OK to eat an entire sandwich, and that they won’t get fat. She isn’t happy with B pluses, they have to be A’s. She will yell at you if you don’t excel in sports and aren’t skinny. Society controls you.
If I were describing this in a GLI workshop right now, I know what the teachers and campers would be saying. “It’s an unhealthy relationship, get out of it!” People want friends, and they feel that if they listen to Society, Media, and Ed, they will be popular. Real friends don’t criticize you. They don’t cause your health and self-confidence to deteriorate. They make you feel better and comfort you.
Real friends make you laugh and don’t judge you. They let you be yourself around them. It’s time for people to stand up to Society and show her that she can’t control our lives. The next time Society tells you to pass up that slice of chocolate cake or to pluck those eyebrows, ignore her.
Find some real friends by being yourself, not what Society wants you to be.