About a month ago, I wrote on my twitter, that every year I become less and less like a conventional adult. It was said as a joke, but someone who is not used to using the word "conventional" would certainly agree with this. I hardly wear makeup, I wear a backpack, overalls and a panama, but I often don't wear a bra. I am twenty-seven, but even the doctors at first decide that I am at most seventeen years old. The very fact that I look more youthful than usual does not bother me - this is the result of my conscious choice. After all, if it bothered me that much, I would adjust to the standards of society. Another thing worries me: automatically deciding that I have not yet crossed the threshold of majority, people often treat me condescendingly - if not rudely. Paradoxically, even professionals like doctors. In our society, obsessed with the cult of youth, it is youth that becomes the main crime.
In our society, obsessed with the cult of youth, it is youth that becomes the main crime
With every advertising poster, women are encouraged to hide their age. Andie MacDowell, who advertises an anti-wrinkle cream, is retouching her face to such an extent that a copy from Madame Tussauds would look more realistic. At the same time, any nonsense is encouraged to buy beauties in bikinis of undetermined age, who nevertheless shouts "YOUTH". Youth is a multi-billion dollar business, and everyone is trying to have a hand in it: the beauty industry with its miraculous remedies and dietary supplements, plastic surgery with expensive procedures, fashion in the end. Clothes will make you look young, just like the models showing them off. As well as these magical face masks. Eat some more of these soft whole grain rolls and some healthy tea.
At the same time, youth in the mass consciousness continues to be associated, if not with stupidity, then precisely with naivety. And endless stereotypes only support this delusion. Young beauties must certainly be stupid and agree with men in everything. Children - well, what to take from them, "you grow up, you will understand." As the popular saying goes, "if youth knew, but old age could." Until now, it is believed that young age automatically means a complete lack of experience, as well as an inability to think logically. However, both do not necessarily come over the years. Both are the result of conscious effort. Some people, having lived half a century, still cannot get rid of infantilism, while teenagers successfully build profitable companies. Perhaps, the reverse hatred is triggered: the one who seems to have passed the "ideal" age long ago, is angry with those who still "get into the stream."
In Russia, as in many conservative societies, the rule “obey your elders” has long been firmly established. A person went through certain stages of social development - just like a Pokemon. Oktyabryonok evolved into a pioneer, he was promoted and became a Komsomol member, and then joined the party. This whole system was built on the principle of obedience and seniority: there was always someone above you who knew better simply because he was entitled to rank. The principle still lives on: one vertical of power was replaced by another, with the eternal “school-institute-work”, which also certainly implies the narrative of authority over the “juniors”. Without passing all the steps, you cannot become an “official” member of society, a “real” adult. The implication is that only universal experience can earn you the respect of others.
The USSR collapsed, and this humiliating principle is still with us. How many times have you heard the condescending "baby", "if you grow up, you will understand" and, of course, "where are you going!" I see this all the time.I'm twenty-seven: for a teenager - a person with experience, for my parents - just a child, but for some reason everyone forgets that first of all I am a person. With my personal experience as it is. With such stupidity, which has not yet become obsolete. A unique individual, as it was customary to say in social studies lessons. However, until now, starting from school and endlessly forward into the future, they continue to ignore me simply because I do not look like a "real" adult, forgetting that I do not equal my set of qualities and deserve respect regardless of them.
Any stereotypes are harmful because they deny the diversity of the world and thereby deprive us of empathy
Any stereotypes are harmful because they deny the diversity of the world and thereby deprive us of empathy. What do you see looking at me? A set of your own ideas about the world. No one can truly understand a stranger, and this is exactly why we use stereotypes - they simplify our thinking, accelerate its speed. However, this is just a tool, like any other, it must be used wisely, not replacing the entire complex process of thinking with it alone. Seeing in a stranger not a person, but a set of stereotypes and dwelling on them, we deprive ourselves of trying to feel something for others. All of us are much more than a set of our properties, a person is arranged, no matter how banal, complex and multifaceted.
My fight against stereotypes began even before I was born. Outwardly, I am very similar to my mother, and she faced all the same problems thirty years ago. The best friend of the same age did not invite her to her wedding, arguing that her mother was "still a child" - because she, like me, has a "funny" snub nose. When I was born, my mother was ignored in the children's clinic, because they did not believe that I was her child. At best, she was mistaken for my sister. These stories have continued in my life. At school, I was always the last in a row in physical education (why even line up children by height?), Constantly listened to ridicule because of my size, and with age - misogynistic comments from boys and men on the topic of my “wrong” figure. This year, while trying to get to the hospital, I received a condescending “well, go, girl,” from a nurse who didn’t believe I knew where I was going.
This is symptomatic and it happens all the time. I can hardly remember all such stories, there were so many of them that they merged into one persistent feeling of suffocation. It is especially difficult to deal with the state-owned world of Russia like passport offices and hospitals. There, everyone is sure to be rude to me: from those who wait to those who receive them. However, as soon as they find out that I am about to thirty, they fall into confusion - a clear illustration of "expectations and reality." This dynamic is especially offensive: why don't I deserve the same detailed calm tone of communication, if I am N years younger than you thought? Sadly, this state of affairs also formed my idea of the world: now I subconsciously wait all the time for an assessment by age from everyone, projecting my stereotype onto the people around me.
I am not alone in my problem. While half the world dreams of being in Benjamin Button's shoes, those who always look "more youthful" dream of completely different things. In the West, people face similar difficulties: for example, a journalist tells how she is not taken seriously at work because of her appearance. The Internet is full of lists like “10 Problems All Young People Know”, and these problems are quite serious. It is more difficult for people around the world to build relationships with their peers (romantic, and not only), find a job, do it successfully and earn respect simply because their appearance does not meet the default standard.
The partly humiliating attitude towards young people is a story of violence. Not only imperceptible and everyday, in caustic comments and mocking remarks, but also quite physical.How often do you see parents yelling at their young children? Swinging at them? Unfortunately, we still do not have a culture of censure of parents who use physical violence and spanking of children, but the culture of punishment is most alive of all living beings. It doesn't bother me that I look completely different from what society expects from a 30-year-old woman: my appearance is the result of biology, which I do not want to change, and my choices, which I make in accordance with my preferences. It upsets me that in our culture, rudeness towards children and, automatically, everyone who reminds them remains the norm. Neither children nor adults deserve this attitude - both are worthy of respect simply because they exist.
Photos: Daria Tatarkova / Instagram