Many of you wake up every morning to apply a mask before starting your day. This mask can be a result of trying to hide the fact you got four hours of sleep or just wanting to add a little expression to your life. I personally have never been a fan of anything that wasn’t natural. I have worn make-up twice in my lifetime. Both times were for prom where I was forced to look like a “lady” for the day. I was asked to put on a dress that cost the same as an hour of tuition, wear high heels that would come off as soon as you walk in the door, and apply a mask that was anything but natural.
I put up with this because I thought it was “normal.” I thought everyone would laugh at me if I wasn’t normal. All of my friends knew that I was uncomfortable the entire day. I felt that people were complementing my mask, not the real me. My friends were smarter than I was. They wore their cowboy boots, converses, and gladiator sandals. They challenged the “lady” stereotype instead of conforming to it.
I am sure there has been a time where you conformed to a label because you thought that was right. Your situation could’ve been the opposite of mine. You might like to dress up in dresses and heels, but because you are a woman in agriculture, you thought you needed to be more “tomboy.” Either way you are changing who you are to please those around you or the label that you’ve been categorized in.
I challenge you to reflect on moments where you were stereotyped and how you felt about it. Did you conform to the situation or did you challenge it? Has there been a time where you might have stereotyped someone without really even thinking about it? These are all questions that need to be asked in order to move forward a challenge stereotypes. If you see someone questioning whether they should change because of the people around them, talk to them. Help them see that they are perfect the way they are.
I encourage you to challenge your stereotypes, erase those labels, and be the best you, you can be. Help those around you realize they are perfect in every way. If everyone took a few minutes out of their day to spread some kindness, we can make everyone feel their worth no matter their race, skin color, or the clothes they wear. Just remember that you can be a part of the solution instead of conforming to labels. Day by day, we can break stereotypes and labels together.