Guest columnist: Don’t conform, be an individual, writes Beth Robinson

Beth Robinson
Beth Robinson
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The struggle to be accepted and considered part of the group is one that will never be over.

To survive during our time on this world is not simply to stay alive but to be validated by society which is obsessed by our appearance. I have begun to explore how the definition of ‘socially acceptable’ is inconsistent and how we should never consider our varying tastes and diversity as something to be accepted but as something to be relished.

I have been thinking about the unconscious oppression on girls, boys, women and men alike to look a certain way, to look what is ‘socially acceptable’. If we don’t conform to the boundaries set by the media spoon-feeding us a diet of ‘acceptable’ men and women, we are setting ourselves up to be judged by others. Thoughts can’t be controlled and we don’t live in Orwell’s dystopian world of Nineteen Eighty-Four where the Thought Police exist to reprimand us of our prejudiced ways.

To those that feel compelled to harmonise, I respond as such: the world is in a never ending state of change. Every second the view looks slightly different in our eyes. In the same way, what is considered ‘respectable’ is constantly altering until it will result in something completely new and usually it is what you wouldn’t expect.

Outsiders of the norm will, most likely, become the norm and you will, probably, be around to see the proof. Punks from the 1970’s are great examples: at the time, the culture of leather jackets, tight jeans and sneakers was considered to be ‘out there’ and rebellious, and now? Only just over thirty years later? Who doesn’t own a pair of Converse? If this is the case there is no comprehensible excuse to set a standard at all; surely we should be able to wear what we think looks good as free-thinking, independent people, ignoring anyone that says differently.

In conclusion, humans will never stop wanting to fit in; we are a tribal species and to belong requires a certain level of obedience but I do think we have overcome that in terms of appearance. This means we have to be more aware of the fact that there is no right or wrong way to look; there is just you and what you decide to like.

Even if what you enjoy changes over time, which it surely will, it doesn’t matter. Taking our individual styles in our own hands is what counts and if we start now, we will help to grow the confidence of generations to come.