"If you're looking for love, for what it's worth, I've plenty of it lying around here somewhere" - Garbage
I think most of you have heard of her. If not about her, about people like her. Amanda Todd was a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide october 10th. She had been cyber-bullied, bullied, blackmailed and physically attacked. It all started with her showing her breasts to someone on the internet she didn't know personally. She was 12-13 years old at the time. If you want to know more about her you can check this wikipedia page. I want to talk about some of the issues that are portrayed in this particular "case" that are closest to my heart.
1. The slut-shaming.
I talked about this girl in class after suggesting this particular issue to my teacher. It's a kind of human sciences class where we usually dedicate some of the time to an interesting article that had been in the news the past week. Usually it's about elections/politics, fights/acts of hooliganism or, on a rare and dreaded occasion, sports. I have been thinking about Amanda Todd for a couple of days now and even though I knew the reactions in my class would be incredibly frustrating for me to listen to (I actually got pissed off in class and yelled at a dude) I thought it was an important topic to discuss. Not only the bullying part of the story but also because of the slut-shaming. Once the teacher mentioned her name and what we would be talking about, the aforementioned dude started rolling his eyes and silently murmured :"Yeah, but she was basically asking for it. Who's stupid enough to put their boobs on the internet?". I can tell you, my dear readers, I'm not an easy girl to piss off. In my head, I'm pissed off all the time. But to really get me to raise my voice and be obviously ANGRY, it takes some real specific pushing of my personal buttons. And this was one of those rare occasions.
I had some back-up from a cool girl I usually talk to between classes and we went, to quote that creeper friend of Berger in "Sex and the city", a little "psychobitch" on his ass. I asked him, with a booming voice, "You really think you DESERVE to be treated and feel like a piece of shit JUST because you made the mistake of showing your boobs to someone? She was TWELVE YEARS OLD, for crying out loud." and awaited his answer. He said something along the lines of "okay maybe she didn't deserve it but I still don't really feel sorry for her. I feel a lot more sorry for people who get bullied that didn't do anything to provoke it. Doing stupid stuff like this is basically asking for it.". Naively, I said "That's just as stupid as saying that a girl deserves to be assaulted when she's wearing a short skirt." and I heard SEVERAL dudes go "Well...". I loudly proclaimed "DUDE, DON'T EVEN" but before I could finish my ungodly sentence my teacher came into the conversation and said "MEN, PUH-LEASE" and started a rant about how no one ever asks to be bullied or assaulted, however they dress, act or even when they make a stupid little mistake like Amanda Todd did. My teacher for that particular subject is boss.
The girl showed her boobs to someone a couple of years ago. Big WHOOP. If anyone feels like that's something to be shocked about, go watch some porn. No, it's not a particularly smart thing to do. But can we slowly start to realise that boobs are a bodypart that, you know, HALF OF THE HUMAN RACE has? We don't need to make people feel ashamed about having them, swirling them around, keeping them in- or outdoors... and we certainly don't need to send pictures around of other peoples bodyparts.
Now, I do get where the dude in my class comes from. Somewhere, in the far back of my mind, I understand. But it still pisses me off to no end. Amanda Todds story speaks to me in a very personal way and I feel very strongly about defending her, even though it's too late to make a difference for her personally.
2. Someone please love me.
I think this is the main reason why I feel so strongly about this particular girl. I remember being 12 myself and I can fully imagine my younger self doing something equally stupid. Luckily, I didn't have the guts to take naked pictures of myself. Luckily, I was too scared of what my sister would say when she found out I ever did something like that. But I was so incredibly insecure. Around that time, my puberty was really kicking in. I was having my period, the boobs were kicking it up a notch, I was turning into a young woman and losing the kid looks. I think most of you will recognise at least some of the things I'll mention. Changing, from a kid to a teenager, is hell. If you ask me, puberty sucks donkeyballs. Your surroundings and your body change much faster than your mind. Suddenly, you catch creepy men staring at your chest and cars drive by while honking like a maniac when you walk down the street.
INTRODUCTION TO WOMANHOOD: Your body belongs to us now.
In one way, it freaks you the hell out. But in another way, it's interesting. You become "attractive" in a completely new way. In that moment in your development, when you're aching to get some kind of appreciation and love from someone, you might do something stupid. Maybe you join some clique in your high school and do some mildly illegal things, maybe you pretend to be someone else in order to fit in, maybe you pick up smoking, whatever. But seeing as how "looking pretty" is deemed to be one of the most desirable things for a girl/woman in life, finding someone who tells you you're beautiful is a joyous occasion when you're that young and insecure. So I can relate to the younger Amanda Todd.
Someone tells you you're beautiful and even expresses interest in seeing more of you? Wow. He likes me. How can someone like me? I can't believe it. But he likes me. I shouldn't keep him waiting. He's an adult too. An adult man thinks I'm attractive. What would an adult woman do? Take the picture.
Now that I'm older I know that finding someone attractive is NOT the same as loving someone. Getting attention for the way you look is, if done in a nice way, fun but superficial. Now, I ache for someone who loves me because of my silly sense of humor, my taste in movies and music, the way I passionately want to change the world for the better, how I never seem to grow out of my deep love for Zelda and Rurouni Kenshin, how looking at a single picture can make me cry. The best lesson I've learned in this year of heartache is this one (please don't mind the cheesiness): "The most valuable thing you will ever possess is you. Don't sell yourself short." But if you don't realise you're a valuable person, you will always sell yourself short. It took a long time for me to realise how valuable I am and that my value isn't determined by how many people find me attractive or ugly. When I was reading this story, instead of thinking "Jebus, what a stupid girl." I thought "if only I could've told her that she IS valuable.". Was valuable.
3. Tell me where it hurts.
I want to say something here. I might not have a super popular blog with thousands of readers but I still want to say it. If ANYONE who ever comes across this blog feels like life has absolutely no beauty or meaning to you anymore and you need someone to talk to, please contact me. Or anyone. Talk to a teacher, a family member, a counselor/therapist or a friend. If you can't or don't want to, you can talk to me. I can't fix anything for you. But I know you're valuable enough to give my attention and time to. Please know that. If anything helped me in my hour of need, it's the people who showed me that they cared about me. But you have to reach out first. This is also one of the points why I feel so strongly about this story. I might not have gone through what she had gone through but I took some hard blows in a matter of weeks and I literally felt like there would never be a beautiful moment in store for me again. I can barely imagine how tough it must've been for her. But everything passes. The passing time hurts like hell and it's really hard to just live through days where you barely feel like there are any reasons to live, but it passes. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to feel like you matter. You deserve to feel so good about yourself that you'd rather stay single your whole life than give yourself away to someone who doesn't deserve you. If you need some love, send me an email. Don't keep your hurt to yourself. Everybody needs a little tenderness.
4. A question.
As the last point in my post I want to ask you something. Please don't spread the hate. Don't say "Stupid bitch, she shouldn't have shown the world her boobs.". Don't go commenting on her youtube video that she should've died earlier. Don't tell people they're ugly. In your head, you can do whatever you want. If you want to gossip with some friends about someone's ridiculous hairstyle, have at it. But don't spread the hate. I want to contribute to changing the world a little. If I can. I've been told that being idealistic is naive and that only the youngsters want to change the world. But I always think : "If you don't want to change the world it means that you think the world doesn't need changing.". And I don't think anyone thinks the world doesn't need a little tweak. Or a huge kick in the behind.
Thank you for reading.