We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofSorida Hou

Being young often means you want to try anything or everything. For me it started when I was 14 on social media. I first downloaded instagram the year earlier, but I didn’t really look at it.  But when I was fourteen I started spending countless hours at night on instagram, getting distracted by others, and always complimenting them with comments. I followed other girls who also lived in Lowell, and I tried being friends with them online. These girls wore fake lashes, lots of lip gloss, and had straight hair. I was mesmerized by them because they were Asian like me. But I didn’t look like them and that’s what struck me.

At school, I started noticing girls wearing lip gloss and fake eyelashes. Their hair was already straight, so it was one less thing for these girls to change. I always thought straight hair was better. I started wondering, “can I look like that too?”  I began bugging my best friends and asking them if I could pull it off too. They thought I was fine the way I looked, but I didn’t agree with them. I thought it was easy for them to say because they were already pretty. They had the confidence I didn’t have, so I thought they just couldn’t understand. My hair wasn’t this silky straight hair, instead my hair was fluffy and had waves and sometimes looked like a lion.  My face wasn’t this clear smooth skin. 

So one day in eight grade, I went home after school and tried to make myself “look better.” I honestly didn’t know what I was doing. But hey, that’s how every girl starts right? On an impulse I took out my mom’s makeup._ _I gently patted foundation on my cheeks.  I combed my eyelashes up and covered them with liquid mascara. I took the straight iron and tried to make my hair straight, but it didn’t work. My hair was changing drastically from the heat, my eyelashes were becoming heavier, and the foundation was sticking to my face. I was confused about how I looked but I didn’t stop.

After that first day, I straightened my hair every day. At home, I practiced putting on makeup more. It was my daily routine, for weeks endlessly.  But one day, my best friends began questioning me about why I changed my hair. As I was explaining to them, they started to point out my face too. I hadn’t realized I was breaking out because I had put too many chemicals on it.  I guess my skin couldn’t take it anymore. Walking home with them, I felt frustrated, upset, insecure, and confused. Then tears came out of nowhere. I started complaining to them nonstop about all of my worries. But then one of them told me, “you are enough.” I got home and looked at the mirror again. I wondered if I stopped trying so hard, I would feel better So I stopped wearing makeup and straightening my hair. Sometimes, I try to bring myself down still, but I know I’m better than that. Today I am satisfied with myself. 

© Sorida Hou. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.