4 Things I Wish I Knew At 15
10 years is both a very short and a very long time. From age 15-25 can seem like a lifetime while you're living it, and these years are some of the most formative of your life as you get a bit closer to figuring out what kind of person you want to be. Luckily, in this time I've managed to unlearn some of the toxic (literally) behaviours expected of women. Once you start picking at the lies that dictate how we're meant to look and act every day, the whole facade starts to unravel and before you know it you're just a free human being living life as they wish.
Beauty is a social construct that drives our consumerist, capitalist culture. We're meant to feel like crap about ourselves and spend lots of money on products that make us feel more attractive. However, your body is your home. It's where you have to live for your entire life. And if you can't make peace with the existence of your natural form you may never really find peace at all. There's nothing wrong with being conventionally attractive and feeling like a goddess in your own skin sometimes, but if you don't love yourself at what convention may call your "ugliest"... you don't really love yourself at all, do you?
Here are the top four things I would tell myself if I could go back in time.
- You don't have to use tampons
There are safer, more comfortable alternatives to tampons and you don't have to give in to capitalist marketing that convinces you they're the best option. The tampons you use are extremely unhealthy, they contain known carcinogens and cause infections. The pain and discomfort of using bleached cotton is not normal and does not have to be tolerated.
The better alternatives I'm referring to are predominantly the menstrual cup, but also cloth washable pads. Both are safe, comfortable, eco-friendly and much more affordable in the long run. No carcinogens, no chance of infection, less leakage, less money and no wasteful plastic abusing the environment.
- You don't have to take birth control
You do not have to go on the pill. You do not have to subject yourself to that, you have options. At 15 it'll still be years before you do go on it, but this information could have prevented you from ever beginning and saved some of your friends too. Avoiding unwanted pregnancy is a good thing, but pumping your body full of hormones to stop yourself from ovulating is not always a good thing. There are ways to protect from pregnancy without exposing yourself to the risk of strokes, depression, decreased libido, weight gain, unstable emotions, acne and more.
At 25 you are going off hormonal birth control, permanently. It has destroyed your skin and your weight and you're totally fed up after trying multiple types. If you had been given the basic information of the risks and side effects by your doctors before they prescribed birth control to you without question, you would have decided against ever putting them in your body in the first place.
- You don't have to shave
There are more important things than shaving your legs and armpits everyday. An example? Literally everything else in the universe.
Do you see the boys around you killing themselves every day to pluck and shave every naturally occurring hair on their body? Nope. If they don't have to, neither do you. At 25 you'll be happy to know that you only shave about twice a year now, and you don't give a damn who knows that you're an adult woman with adult woman body hair. Being hairless does not make you more attractive, and if having post-pubescent hair lessens your attractiveness for a man then that is not a man you want attention from.
- You don't have to always be made up
All human people have bags under their eyes. We have wrinkles, creases, freckles, spots. That's what faces look like. Again, do you see men covering every spot, dark circle or wrinkle on their face? No. Because society hasn't told them they need to.
When they look at you, people want to see your face. You don't have to cake every pimple in layers of concealer. At 25 you don't even own concealer. Wearing some makeup to enhance your face is AOK, you do you. But do not be afraid to be seen without a made up face! You're a walking bag of flesh and bones like the rest of us. You'll be stoked to know that at age 25 you do share makeup free selfies on Instagram, and you don't even feel fear over it anymore. You have a face under that makeup, learn to embrace it.
If I could have read this 10 years ago, I might have saved myself a lot of time, money and physical harm. I'm no longer buying into outdated marketing tacts that tell women they're ugly how they are and that they need to manipulate their bodies with hormones and unnatural chemicals. It took me 10 years to unlearn everything I'd been taught by advertising, but I know better now and I'm here to spread the word.