Friday, April 20, 2012

Just Keep It In Mind - Lady Gaga

Today while I was putting away some YA stuff at the library, the cover of a magazine caught my eye. The title story was the a quote from Katy Perry that said, "I just stopped focusing on what other people think."

While I do agree that this is a good message for teens (ie. don't live your life based on peer pressure), what I really, really wish is that celebrities would just stop lying to everyone.

People like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga don't act all crazy because they don't care what people think of them. They act all crazy precisely because they DO care. They WANT the attention. They want people to see them as extreme.

I mean, let's think about this for a moment. If someone legitimately did not care what other people thought of them - like honestly, sincerely, it really just did not matter - then that person would just wear whatever was comfortable and easy. Wal-mart or Target for the clothes. Maybe the mall.

If someone seriously didn't care what people thought, then this would not be real:
(What is with that skeletor claw?)

Or this:
(Admittedly, cool looking.)

Or This:
(And it works. Every single person in this picture is staring at her ice queen get-up. You don't dress that way if you don't want attention. And, by George, she definitely got it.)

You don't spend oodles of time and money to create outrageous costumes just to not make a point. When a person doesn't care what people think, then they just Don't Care What People Think.

That's a novel concept for you.

But it's true. These people go extreme to get attention. To send a message. To communicate a certain something to other people. For some it is "Look at me! Aren't I so special and unique!" For others it is "I know what the norm is. And I'm gonna break it, because I can." And for still others it can even be "I don't like who I really am, so I'm going to hide it behind this lavish facade."

But not for a single one of them is it actually a message of "It doesn't matter what other people think of me." Because it does. Oh, it really does.

I would know. Because I've done the exact same thing.

I didn't wear my Dr. Seuss hat to girls camp every single year because I didn't care. (If I didn't care, I wouldn't have gone through the trouble of packing it and putting it on every day. Because it just wouldn't have mattered.)

I wore it every year at camp (and a good many evenings after school as well) because I was shy and awkward, and it was a non-verbal way for me to say "I'm not like you, and that's okay."

It was quite a few years later that I started to actually believe it was okay. But the hat helped.

I wanted needed people to understand that I was not the same old cookie cutter teenager as the rest of the world. I wanted their image of me to be fun and different. I wore the hat so they would notice.

So, I'm not dissing Lady Gaga, or Katy Perry, or any outrageous performer. They can do whatever they want. It's not my place to judge that. And, while some of her costumes are terrifying, there are things that Lady Gaga wears that are actually really cool looking. (In an artistic sense anyway. They still don't make sense as clothes.)

But what I am saying is that people really should stop mixing these things up. There is a striking difference between not caring what people think, and being super different or norm-defying. For a lesson on norm-defying, Lady Gaga is the way to go. But if you want a role model on how to "not care what people think", then this is really not the place to turn. (For one example of a good place to turn, see this post.)

It's good to be individual. To be your own unique person. And it is also good to live your life through your own actions and choices. Don't let it be lived for you because you are so obsessed with what society thinks of you.


Those are not the same thing. You can be an active, comfortable-with-yourself person without being psycho crazy. And you can wear the craziest outfit ever invented, and not even like yourself very much.

I feel like the first step to being good at both is knowing the difference. Moral of the story: Don't listen to hollywood.

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