The Pressures of being a teenager in today’s society Jennifer: head cheerleader, and captain of the football team’s girlfriend. She has perfect hair, perfect skin, and there is no possible way to deny her beauty. I try to tell myself that on the inside she is ugly. I know I’m simply jealous, but I cannot help but detest her. She has everything. As for myself, I have nothing compared to her. I don’t understand why I feel sorry for myself. I spend all my time wishing I was someone else. I’ve always been extremely insecure throughout my life, and it has lead to depression. It runs in my family. My mother had terrible problems ith it. I remember her doctor constantly changing her medication in the hopes of finding the cure that would work for her. “Melissa? Melissa? Are you even paying attention? ”
My teacher demanded. “Yes miss. ” I replied, although, I was drifting off into space. Today our lecture was about the many pressures of being a teenager in society today. All this talk about being in or out made me think of the social changes now occurring in the educational system. I then remembered a conversation I had with my guidance counsellor. I was feeling lonely and rejected, and this teacher told me that other kids, even the popular nes, also felt as miserable as I was at times. Of course, I didn’t believe him. How could all those girls, all those girls who had everything be unhappy? I would most definitely be happy with all those cute clothes and better yet, cute boys. I would never be miserable if I could change places with one of them. After school that day, I went home, did my homework, watched some television, had supper, and went to flip through magazines, the usual. I wondered how all those girls were so thin. How did they manage to stay on such strict diets? I envied them. That night before bed, I looked myself in the mirror, and broke into choked sobs.
I try to keep it together, but I cannot. I barely slept. The same question repeated itself over and over in my head… How could any one person be so ugly, and so fat. It was plain disgusting so to speak. The next day I noticed an advertisement on the front of one of my magazines. It was an add about a modeling agency coming to my hometown holding auditions. The entire week I debated attending the audition. I was aware that I would be out of my league completely compared to all the pretty girls in my town. I was also aware of the possibility of getting laughed at. A lost puppy, they’d say. No I couldn’t go.
I would make a complete fool out of myself. Of course that was the norm for me, and I began to ask myself what was there to lose? My dignity, perhaps. It was Friday and my day went on as usual. I woke up, washed my face, got dressed, went to school, and finally the last bell rang. The hallways were scattered with girls chattering excitedly about the modeling auditions. I simply ignored them and headed towards my bus. But then something hit me. Why not? Why not go to the audition? So I went, not taking in anymore thought. When I arrived I was completely right about the environment surrounding me.
The prettiest girls in town were there, already laughing at me. Exclusion hurts. Discrimination and rejection are painful at any age. The line up seemed never ending. It took almost two hours to get in and audition. The auditors asked me various questions such as: Are you healthy? What does modeling mean to you? And so forth. They asked me about my weight, and if I had participated in any fitness programs. At the end of the audition they suggested toning up, loosing some weight, and would call in a few days if I made it onto the next stage. I knew exactly what that meant. “Sorry but your too fat to be a model, thanks for trying out and iving us a good laugh. ” I went home that night, and decided to take in what they said as constructive criticism. I decided that I was going to do something about my weight. I was sick and tired of being fat and frumpy. I made a schedule for myself in order to balance school, work, and exercise. If they called, that would be great and if they didn’t, well I was doing this for me. I scaled in at 184 pounds today. My goal is to weigh 130 at the end of this little experiment. In just one month alone, I managed to loose twenty pounds. I was feeling great.
This was an incredible accomplishment for me. I wasn’t satisfied ust yet, and I had some more pounds to lose until I reached my goal. It almost seemed too easy. I wanted to lose more. Skinny obsession here I come. I believed that my hopes of becoming a model were officially over. It was a little over a month later when the phone rang, and my mom called me from upstairs. “Melissa dear, a modeling agency is on the phone for you? Do you know what this is about? ” “Yes mom, I’ll take it, I’ll explain later. ” I replied. Apparently I was what the model agency was looking for. Who would have guessed? They asked if I took their advice, and when they saw me they thought I was the erfect candidate. Although they had strict rules about dieting, they didn’t want any of the girls to have eating disorders and whatnot. They were aiming for healthy looking girls who could be role models for young adolescents. My first day for casting was the next night. I was so excited and I stayed up all night debating what to wear. I needed something hip and in, but also sophisticated. This way they would know I was taking this industry seriously. When I got there it was everything I expected: lighting, wardrobes, and the photographers. It was incredible, and I was finally going to be apart of it.
The following week at school, my fellow students were beginning to take notice of me. “Hello, how are you today Melissa” They politely greeted me. Or asked me. “Did you loose weight? You look great! ” Emily Baldwin the most popular girl in the entire school, asked me to sit with her at lunch. Obviously, I took her up on that offer. After seventeen years of my life, people were finally noticing me, and I loved it. I finally had a group to sit with at lunch, people acknowledged me in the hallways, and I was popular. Hallelujah. However, being in the “in” group was beginning to get to me. My teachers were oncerned about my grades, and I was falling asleep in class. I had no energy. I know I sometimes took it too far with my dieting and exercise, but it was an addiction. I could not get enough of this “in” fix. For most overweight girls, it is hard to stick with a diet, but it was almost natural for me. I wanted to fit in so bad that I would risk anything to get it. I barely noticed the pains in my stomach from hunger. The model agency called today, they told me I was taking the dieting too seriously, and if I didn’t gain some more weight I would be removed from the industry. I didn’t even care.
It didn’t dawn on me at all. I was thin, and popular. I no longer cared about being a model. I wanted to be noticed, and I was. Maybe even more so than I imagined. Eventually everything went back downhill. My one teacher called home. I failed to hand in my assignment. My parents were not only furious but concerned. This wasn’t like their little Melissa. Then my parents were beginning to really worry. I was eating less and less each day. To top it all off, I passed out in the bathroom the one day. My friend Jennifer even told my mom and dad I was skipping lunch and taking excessive pills to stay skinny.
Once my parents were informed of this it was off to the doctors for me. Seeing the doctor didn’t really help me. I was cooperative and agreed with everything the doctor told me to satisfy him. When I arrived back home I followed the same eating habits as before. That night my mom came into my room, with a late night snack, so we could talk about everything that just happened. I told her I wasn’t hungry and that didn’t fly so well with her. It is now three months later and I am sitting in a hospital bed. I’m being fed from tubes. I couldn’t be fed me solid foods because my stomach has shrank so much over the ast year, and I can’t keep it down. I guess I took this dieting thing way too far. Apparently I have a disease called anorexia. Waking up in this hospital bed everyday for the past two weeks has made me realize that my extreme dieting was dangerous, stupid, and also hurt the people around me. I am now paying the consequence of such actions.
My guidance counsellor explained to me that everyone feels like an outsider. Everyone has moments of loneliness. Everyone worries whether she or he fits in, or whether he or she is odd. “In” and “out” are simply illusions. Instead of looking for “in” nd “out”, we should try to see ourselves as we are. We are all different. Yet we are all the same. I wish this would have been clear to me a year ago before anorexia took over my life. At the same time however, I would say it was all worth it. Call me crazy, but everything happens for a reason. I know what it is like to be an outcast, popular, over weight and underweight. You are still the same person on the inside, whatever that might be. This experience has been the best and worst thing to ever happen to me. All my questions have relevant and simple answers. Be yourself. Life is way too short to be living someone else’s life.