Saturday, 7 September 2013
Sitting on a train
On my way back from Cambridge, I was on a train with lots of school children. The table opposite contained 4 very self-assured 16 year old girls, who had just got their timetables and were launching into the big, bad world of free lessons and not having their day structured down to the last minute. After all the "I can catch the late train on Thursdays" stuff was out of the way, they settled down into the usual routine of tearing apart their mutual acquaintances. Those who were not "fat" (as opposed to "phat") had some other major character flaw that needed dissecting in detail - it was like an infomercial.
Whilst I know it is teen blabber and is their way of working out where exactly their place is in the world, fitting in with the herd, peer pressure and boosting their own self-esteem by downgrading everyone else around them, it made me realise just how unkind we are. As most of the comments were directed at personal appearance - only one came in for a real slating for being a "tart" for "getting off with" someone else's boyfriend (like there weren't TWO willing participants in that particular scenario) - it also made me realise how much importance we place on physical appearance.
Interesting that this morning, two articles popped up on my newsfeed to confirm this belief. The first about heart attacks; the second about weight prejudice amongst mental health workers.
There was, as always, an upside. When discussing one girl, somebody said how good she looked in her Prom Dress.
"I didn't like her dress," said another girl. "I thought she looked awful in it."
The whole carriage swivelled round to look at her with a kind of wide-eyed "Really?", as the painful jealousy was so obvious in her voice.
I was amused to see I wasn't the only one listening. I hope I wasn't the only one that really minded the conversation and thought it cruel.
Whilst on the train, I took a picture of my beautiful hand-made card from A. So much love and thought has gone into this and it is truly one of the most special presents I have received. There is hope for a kinder world with people like A in it, especially with her chosen career.