I was cleaning out my house, going through some old papers, and I came across a short essay I wrote in high school and I want to share it.
I am lucky, I have always been academically gifted and school is easy for me. I also have never felt pressured to fit into “normal” societal molds. This created an interesting environment for me, and I was often judged based solely on the way that I looked.
Who would you rather have as your daughter?
A smart girl. A girl who takes her education seriously, working hard to absorb as much of the information as possible. A girl who is in Honours AP classes, and in most subjects is a grade ahead. A girl who will have finished a semester of university classes before she finishes high school. The kind of girl who takes calculus for fun.
This girl is kind and compassionate, she stands up for others. Bullying is not tolerated. She has friends from all cliques in the school, from the “math nerds” to the “jocks” to the “stoners.” She is happy to stick around after school and help the teachers with a project.
She is responsible. She organizes school events and is part of the grad council, always willing to put in the extra effort. She has two jobs, and has never been late. She has a car, but pays for it all herself – she doesn’t get any help from her parents, the car is her responsibility.
People always assume that she is almost a decade older than she actually is, based solely on her maturity.
Or, what about this girl….
This girl can be confrontational, she will not tolerate disrespect, which means that sometimes she talks back to teachers and other authority figures. Her assertiveness often get mistaken for aggression.
She is intimidating; she doesn’t look normal. She has blue hair and more piercings that one can count. Paperclips, safety pins, and binder rings adorn her clothing as a fashion statement. Handcuffs are an accessory. People she doesn’t know cross the street to avoid her.
Music must be a terrible influence on this girl, she listens to metal and hard rock – who knows what it will make her do.
So who would you rather have as your daughter?
It doesn’t matter, either way, it is me.
I remember the situation that sparked this reflection. I was late to one of my math classes – advanced placement calculus to be exact – we had a substitute teacher that day, and this woman judged me only on the way that I looked. That particular day I was wearing red and yellow “demon eye” contacts and all black, including a black trench coat and knee-high heeled boots. I looked like an angsty goth teenager.
When I entered the classroom she took one look at me and asked, “Are you sure you are in the right class? This is advanced placement calculus“
Well, I was rather offended and responded as such. I informed her that it was the middle of the fucking school year and of course I knew what damn class I was supposed to be in! And that her judging me based on the way I was dressed was so beyond inappropriate that she should go fuck herself.
Alternative kids can be nerds too! I was proof of that.