There is a unique gift that every human possesses: this gift is individuality. It is sad that as I grow older I notice more and more that my plethora of female friends has slowly been invaded. The invader is their boyfriends and the media. Their boyfriends are not necessarily doing anything wrong, but my female friends constantly feel the need to take it upon themselves to change their morals, beliefs, and ideas to fit those of their boyfriends. I have even begun to notice this happening in my younger sister. Feminism would help them retain their identity if they were to give it a chance though.
It pains me to see these females that I have grown so close to lose their identities. I remember being younger and many of my female friends being extroverted and flamboyant about their opinions. They had no one who was controlling the way that they thought. These girls had their own minds, but after they started getting boyfriends, many of these girls have changed most of their views. They are no longer as outwardly spoken. I have watched my female friends become introverted and submissive. This is not how they should behave. They are human beings, and should be able to think for themselves, and not conform themselves to their boyfriends who are not bothering to make any change on their part. By conforming themselves to be the perfect match for their boyfriend, they are losing their identities, and thus on the path to becoming an object that can be taken for granted in their boyfriend’s eyes.
One of my close friends growing up fell into a statistic because she conformed to her boyfriend’s wants. That statistic was that 40% of girls lose their virginity by the age of 14. She lost her virginity our 8th grade year. Her boyfriend constantly tried to pressure her into having sex with him, and for a while she held her ground and said no. This aggravated him to no extent. He tried as hard as he could to make her jealous by getting with other girls. Eventually, it worked. He had sex with one of my other female friends in the middle school hallway. When the news spread around the school, I asked the hallway girl why she did it. She mentioned that she had lowered her standards and gave into his wants because she thought that if she did so, he would be with her instead. His girlfriend eventually dropped her stance and gave in. She slept with him later that month to keep him with her instead. I watched two of my friends lose their morals to conform to a boy’s wants. They were one step closer to becoming objects. He told them not to tell anyone, and to this day, if you ask them about it, they deny that anything had ever happened that year. The problem is that everyone knows that something did, and they are now slut-shamed by some people. I grew up with one of these girls, and met one that year, but I watched them become objects to the boys around them, and no longer be looked at as human beings capable of making their own decisions. Sometimes I feel as though this is because they do nothing to change it, because they look at themselves that way.
I’ve also noticed that my female friends have attempted to conform themselves to the unattainable ideals of the media. These girls have so much pressure put upon them to change who they are to be what the media says that they should be. The media inaccurately depicts the female physique. They show these pencil thin women with large eyes and long blonde hair. Over the years, I have seen one of my female friends develop an eating disorder for this reason. She wouldn’t eat because she feels as though she is too big. I’ve also witnessed many of them dye their hair many times and many different colors to look more attractive. These girls have slowly objectified themselves. They change so often treating themselves as objects, so do their male counterparts. The males in their lives treat them as objects also. This may be the reason that the media portrays them that way. The media is run primarily by men. These men objectify women, encouraging not only other males to do so, but also females. It sickens me to think that my friends look so poorly upon themselves because of an everyday source of information. This is detrimental to their health and causes so many of the people that I care about to develop eating disorders and other mental illnesses. They are no longer able to be themselves. This making them a shell of a person, filled with hatred of themselves and the views of the men around them. Thus stripping all of their will to pursue their dreams away from them.
The other person that it really pains me to see be objectified is my sister. She only ever sees things from her boyfriend’s perspective anymore. It seems as though she no longer has a mind of her own to think with. When the two first got together, she had opinions that were different from his on many topics, but over the course of their relationship, he has left her over these disagreements, and as a result, she has changed her views on those topics to the same views that he has. She is also really thin: for this reason people constantly tell her that she needs to eat a burger or ten, and they think that she is anorexic. For this reason she is uncomfortable about her weight. The media shows these girls in the latest fashion, with bright blonde hair, and a man by their side. For this reason, I have seen my sister dye her hair time and time again, want only name brand clothing, and desperately hold on to this boy who has no care for the real her. She has changed time and time again for him. I’ve also noticed my mother give into the media’s depiction of women. She has gone on diets before thinking that she was too big, but she is still strong, and doesn’t give into the objectification of men, or the media anymore. It hurts to see this happen within my own family.
I’ve watched men and the media change my social circles on such large scales. Watching many of my friends conform to their boyfriends and the media, and watching the women in my family do the same sickens me. I’ve watched many of them recover though, and some are still stuck in the loop, but eventually they will begin to reanimate themselves. Feminism will empower them, and restore them to their former selves if they give it a chance.