For many years I have been ridiculed for not conforming to societal norms, not just with regards to gender, but race, fashion and many more. I think that you said it very well. There is a difference between what is biological and what is societal. Biology determines certain things, but cultures determine even more, and many people do not see where those things begin and end. I am a woman who rejects wearing makeup, not because I reject being feminine, but because I believe that I am beautiful as I am. If I were to wear makeup that would be covering up my personal beauty and covering it with what society tells me is beautiful.
I reject the notion that women look terrible without makeup, inevitably women who wear makeup all the time see themselves without it done, and are so accustomed to them with it that that has become what they expect themselves to look like. Also every image I see, or women telling how awful they look without makeup there is still smeared makeup. I am an actress, I do wear makeup for characters, and I know that it is impossible to get it all off at once. When a woman only sees herself ‘without makeup’ in this state, of course she thinks she looks bad.
But this is not about makeup, it is about stereotypes. I find that oftentimes people do not realize that they are reinforcing stereotypes. People think men are not supposed to cry, so men avoid crying, which only reinforces the idea that men do not cry. The other day I had the opportunity to see a heartbroken young man just after he discovered his wife was cheating (I work in a hotel). I have never seen a stranger so honest as he was. I admire his strength as he tried to solve the situation. But his tears were actually what I admired most. Even though he tried to hide them, he was honest enough to cry in front of a stranger. Men do cry, because people cry. Crying is not a sign of weakness, it is a strength. Crying is a way to get emotion out of the way in order to think rationally. Especially with the stigma against crying, I find it a real sign of strength of character and confidence in ones-self.
Because I explore many other cultures, I think that I have a better idea than many about what is biological, and what is societal, but I believe that if people were more aware of how society was influencing them, people would be more prepared to step outside of those norms. I also believe that this is where the whole “finding yourself” thing comes in. I have never really had that battle. I have always been very comfortable with who I am, even when society strongly expresses its disapproval. But if you believe that since you are a certain thing you must follow certain guidelines, you will have a difficult time finding who you are. The only way is to break out.
I know that Extra Credits wrote their episode about video game characters, and making them more real, but I find that many real-life people are as flat as a poorly constructed character, because they go through life being who they are told to be, essentially being a character. This hurts me, because I really want to know the person who is hiding, they are sure to be a brighter star than the bland lifeless facade they hide behind.
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
― William W. Purkey