You know what sucks about the society that we live in? People are always quick to jump to conclusions. Without even knowing you, they label you, and drag your name through the dirt. It’s happened to me all of my life.
At school, I always hung around with guys, my big brother was in the year above me and we shared a friend group. We always went out together, drank together, chilled together. And because of this I was always thought of as an attention-seeking big-headed tart who wanted all of the boys to fall at her feet. This wasn’t me. This wasn’t true. But it stuck. And that’s what I was. Even though my brother was my best friend – in the whole wide world – and it was him I was choosing to spend time with.
I did a photoshoot at the age of 16, in a bikini, afterwards in a matching leopard print underwear set. I wanted to build a portfolio. I dreamed of being a model. I was young, I was eager, I was determined. And then all of a sudden I was a slut. Rumours spread like wildfire around the school, names were called and jealous girls brought me down and made me give up on the idea. Family members said it was wrong and inappropriate but mum and dad supported me and that’s all that mattered. Still, it was enough to shatter my confidence.
When I used to wear a skirt to school, because I had a defined bottom, always standing out and causing unwanted attention/remarks – I would be pulled up by the principal and be told to wear something else. I would be wearing the exact same skirt as the other girls in my year. The exact same. And yet because they had different body types their bodies were not sexualised in the way mine was and so they were allowed to go about their daily business without getting pulled up. For me, it was constant.
Over summer, I’ve unashamedly been selling worn socks/shoes and pictures of my feet to people online with foot fetishes, I wouldn’t normally talk about it on my blog but I’m not embarrassed by it. It was something I was doing on the side, over summer, to make extra cash. And it worked. It even paid for a full holiday for my boyfriend and I (who supports me wholeheartedly, by the way). My friend was pretty stripped for cash and so I introduced her to the world of sock selling and making money on the side doing this. Her boyfriend, however, wasn’t happy about her doing this and outright called me a ‘skanky wreck’. Now ladies, if you’re reading this, and you discovered it was possible to pay for a holiday through selling your old shoes, socks and pictures of your feet – wouldn’t you do it too? Why is it that people have such a negative opinion of me?
I don’t get it.
I’ve always been worried about what I post on social media, particularly Facebook, because family can be so judgemental. And people I went to school with etc. Since I’ve left school I’ve had more abuse online than when I was there. From people mocking my mental health and my decision to have a gap year when I first left school; people tagging their friends in my social media posts embracing my body/dancing etc. and calling me names. It never stops. Even at 21-years-of-age it never fucking stops. It gets worse.
At university, this year, I was pulled up about what I post on social media. I’m a blogger. I’m an open book. My followers follow me for a reason and I can’t just stop being me because I volunteered for a student paper. I poured my heart and soul in to that paper, and took great pride in it, and to have my work and ethics questioned and ripped apart was really disheartening, really.
It seems I never catch a break in this life. The way society is now, I’m glad I keep my circle small (if you can even call it a circle) and that I spend the majority of my time with my boyfriend. I could go on all day about how much society sucks in this day and age, and how you’re judged and criticised for every little thing, people revel in making mountains out of mole-hills. Let’s just be a little bit nicer to one another, eh? Next time you think about saying something nasty, or putting out a tweet, or making a witty comment about someone – just take a split second to think about how that would make that person feel.
And maybe don’t do it?
Oh. It sure is good to be back.
Love, Charlene McElhinney. x