“Not Like Other Girls”

I hate this phrase with a burning passion.

Apparently, we’ve come full circle. It seems this phrase is a rebellion against shaming girls for being “too feminine”. That is, if you’re tomboyish – or at least, less feminine than stereotyped – you’re a faker because no real woman wouldn’t have some feminine traits or preferences. Whereas in the past, the shame would be for not being feminine enough, which is probably where “tomboy” came from to begin with.

Does no one realize the only reason this crap exists is due to stereotypes in the first place?

This discussion came up on a Reddit thread about engagement rings. Those threads usually lead to a lot of people saying they don’t want or care for expensive rings. I’m one of those people. I don’t particularly like rings, but even if I did, I’d kick my boyfriend’s behind to the moon with Princess Luna if he ever spent hundreds, or thousands, on an engagement ring. If it’s for himself, fine, but if it’s for me, I don’t want it. I’d actually question marrying him if he did that because I cannot justify so much spent on something that has no function beyond prettiness. At the very least, it would tell me not to combine our finances (Also, what the heck is the idea of wearing one particular piece of jewelry for as long as you live? That’s weird to me) because I’d view that spending as irresponsible. Yeah, it’d be his money and he can do what he wants, and I can think he’s crazy.

I didn’t say all of that on the thread, but many people were vocal about their opinions. Cue a hoard of offended people with engagement rings screaming how everyone who doesn’t care for expensive rings is essentially a “holier-than-thou” “not like other girls” poser trying to be cool. Or maybe some people really don’t like rings and were just expressing themselves? Isn’t that what Reddit is for? More so, how is shaming people for not liking rings any better than supposedly being shamed for liking rings? They did the same thing they accused the first commenters of.

The easier solution seems to not abide by stereotypes at all, but that would require us as a society to admit we created some screwed-up ideas and, well, we as people don’t do that.

Speaking of stereotypes, I will say this: I do understand why some people care a lot about rings. There are people who judge someone’s partner by the amount of money they have, and I don’t put it past some people to assume an inexpensive ring is a sign of poverty or poor finances. Being blatantly honest, there are still people who believe men are supposed to be the breadwinner (I wonder if not caring who makes more money is also “not like other girls”), and consider it shameful if he’s not.

The bottom line is people should be able to have preferences without being stereotyped as “not like other girls” or “like every other girl”.

And the reason the thread sparked so much emotion? The opening post was a screenshot of someone jealous her sister had a bigger ring than she did, and wanting her husband-to-be to exchange the ring he bought for a bigger one because of said jealousy. She was asking how to approach him about the subject.

I don’t care how “not like other girls” it makes me. That’s petty as heck.

Positivity: Real vs Fake

There’s something about I’ve noticed about self-proclaimed “positive” people. Actually, any person who screams “if you don’t like your life, change it, don’t complain!”

They will scream this, even if you are doing that.

For some reason I will never understand, it seems these types of people believe complaining and working to change your life can’t be done simultaneously. Weird. Like people.

I’m currently in school. That’s considered by most people to be a step in changing your life. But if I had a dime for every time I complained about school – having to wake up early, balancing work and a job (two jobs at one point), running on little sleep, studying, the $200+ I must pay monthly to attend school, the lessons I struggle with, the boring days, keeping up with my grades – I could probably pay off my student loans in a month.

But I still attend school, so I’m still changing my life like these people scream I should be doing. And it’s still not good enough for them. And honestly, school is just still one thing.

If nothing else, I’ve learned most people who scream “change your life” don’t really care what you do. It just makes them feel better to look at someone as negative or a poor example for feeling bad for a day, no matter how much effort they’re putting in to improve their life. Because everyone knows if you really were making a change, it’d be instant and you’d never have a bad day again. Yes, that’s sarcasm. I hope it was obvious.

Real positive people don’t look down on others, don’t preach about how positive they are, and actually understand feeling bad is human instead of shaming people for it. They also practice what they preach instead of giving out advice they themselves don’t follow (assuming it’s applicable to their life at the moment). And this might be a stretch, but I imagine positive people also don’t join certain communities and single out a person for the content of those communities when they knew it ahead of time. Or have spies in that community, for that matter.

In short, real positive people aren’t bullies under the guise of “positivity”. If you’re going to scream at someone to “change their life”, the very least you can do is know beforehand if they’re already doing that. If you don’t care to know that, you’re blowing smoke and nothing more. And since this is the internet, the latter is the most likely scenario. In which case, I say to your “facts”…

Offended much?

Here’s a topic I never thought I’d discuss again. This image seems to be making the rounds in certain places on social media.

Maybe what I’m about to say is an unpopular opinion, but I’m certain if you’re getting offended by someone else’s personal achievements, that’s entirely a “you” problem.

While it’s not something that’s ever crossed my mind, yes, I’d say I beat teen pregnancy too if I was asked a question where that was an appropriate answer. Why not? I didn’t hate teen parents. In fact, I was friends with a teen mother in high school. Never looked down on her. But I certainly didn’t want her situation. Someone who says “I beat teen pregnancy” is saying it wouldn’t have been a good situation for them. Maybe it was a good situation for you. Great. But that’s not a situation that is good for everyone. Speaking for myself, I was heavily suicidal in my teens and I did think about having a child in high school for the sake of having someone who loved me. Bad reason to have a child. Very bad. Depression screws with your mind. Thankfully, logic beat out that idea and I made it out of my teens with no child in tow. That’s a personal achievement for me, not a slight against teenage parents.

Granted, “achievement” is not what I’ve really ever thought of it as, but I’m not unhappy to have not been a parent in my teens, so that’s the closest word to describe it in this context. The same applies to other aspects of life. I’ve never stepped foot in a bar or club, or had a drink of alcohol, but I don’t hate people who enjoy those activities. I just want nothing to do with them.

Two of my friends graduated university earlier this year with their bachelor’s degrees, one in biochemistry and the other in psychology. Meanwhile, I just started attending trade school four months ago after spending almost two years in retail and I am dying for it to be over. If my friends say “I’m glad I went to college right after high school” or “I’m not a college dropout”, I don’t take that as a slight against me because it is not about me. They are talking about themselves. My sister just went through a break-up after being with her boyfriend for two years. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost four years (though it has been a very bumpy road). If I say “I’m glad we never broke up” or “I’m glad we’ve been together all this time”, that’s entirely in reference to my boyfriend and myself, and zero to do with my sister because I am not talking about her.

Let’s also not forget parenthood isn’t always the best thing to happen to someone, and some people don’t realize that until after they become parents. There are absolutely parents who walk out on their children, do not properly care for them, let their children know they resent them, and at worst, outright kill them. And while I don’t doubt parenthood is fulfilling for many, I’ve heard even happy parents say the “kodak moments” are only 10% of parenthood (some say 5, some say 1). Take that for what you will.

Also, on the internet, where a single post can reach millions of people, what are really the chances the creator of the post is referring specifically to you?

MLM – Many Lying Manipulators

Some time ago, I discovered a section of Reddit called “Anti-MLM“. I’d heard of MLM before, but all I knew about it was the meaning of the acronym: multi-level marketing. I never understood what MLM was about or why they were considered shady.

I read the thread for fun and some laughs, but I learned quickly why MLM has the reputation it does. MLM is essentially interchangeable with “pyramid scheme”, but even the ones that (supposedly) aren’t pyramid schemes are no better. The basic concept is: you pay for a set of start-up supplies (beauty products, clothes, etc) and try to sell them while trying to persuade other people to sign up for the same company. A lot of MLM companies have “levels”, so the more you sell and more people you convince to join, the higher your level goes.

From reading that section (subreddit), it seems many of these companies target a specific group. They aim for people – especially women, it seems – who are unemployed, recently finished college, are stay-at-home parents, or are just struggling financially in general. While it’s undoubtedly immoral to prey on those who may be vulnerable, I’m more disgusted with the attitudes of the people who fall into these scams.

To an extent, I have some sympathy. I don’t have a child, but I do know what it’s like to struggle and scramble to keep your bills paid and stay afloat. However, many of the people who sign up for MLM companies are very patronizing and outright dishonest.

For starters, a common theme seems to be that a regular job is the “real scam”. When someone dares to question why they need to pay to sign up, the usual retort is that an ordinary job makes you pay to work there as well, via requiring you to buy a uniform. This is completely ignoring many jobs provide uniforms for free or have a loose dress code where there is no specific uniform. My job falls under the latter, and my uniform was $15 to $20, an amount I make in two hours of work. If you already happen to have clothes that fit the dress code before you start working, you don’t have to pay anything. Similarly, many consider college a scam as well. I do think the system of education (higher and lower) is long overdue for an overhaul, but that doesn’t mean college itself is terrible. There seems to be a common notion everyone with a regular job is miserably working from 9am to 5pm under a cold-hearted boss, or everyone who attends college is drowning in several thousands of dollars in debt while unemployed or underemployed.

What’s more egregious is many of the supposed benefits spouted about joining MLM companies often contradict. The biggest example of this is how they advertise you can “be your own boss” and claim they are “small business owners”. In the same breath, they scream the company they work for is not a pyramid scam. I don’t think anyone needs a business degree to figure out the obvious flaw there, but I’ll point it out anyway. You are not “your own boss” if you work for a company, let alone a business owner. People who work for MLM companies have bosses just like any person who works for genuine companies. Why would a business owner receive a paycheck from anyone? Payment from their clients for providing services, yes, but their clients aren’t their employees. Speaking of benefits, there’s usually no mention of the benefits a regular, full-time job provides like health insurance and paid time off. And of course, the people with regular jobs are the people they count on for their sales to begin with.

My favorite, however, is how they claim you can “make money from your phone anywhere, any time”. On the surface, that sounds great. However, many of the people who advertise this post about “earning money” from places like the pool, the beach, or just relaxing in bed. How are you relaxing if you’re working? When I clock out at work, I am done. I don’t have to think about work any more until the next shift. I don’t want to work while I’m on vacation or just having a nice day off. Chances are if I’m at the pool, I’m with my best friend or my boyfriend. I’d rather be in the water, swimming and having the time of my life with them, not posting ads from my phone while they have fun without me. Yet at the same time, there’s the claim that “you control your money”. In other words, you do have to work hard to profit from MLM. So, which is it? Easy money-making while having fun, or as much dedication as any other job? Also, if you have kids, how are you spending time with them while posting ads online most of the day? I suppose there’s nighttime when they’re sleeping, but doesn’t that kill the idea you do have to work hard at MLM?

However, something I happen to find infuriating is many of these consultants also advertise dangerous ideas. One I’ve seen a lot is ingesting essential oils, despite the bottles themselves having warnings that they aren’t to be ingested. I’ve also seen beauty products that notoriously caused damage instead of enhancing looks, but the consultants blamed the result on the buyers for “improper use”. That might be an excuse when it comes to a few people out of very many (and even then, you should still address those concerns), but not when it’s the majority. Apparently, there are some oils that can be ingested, but essential oils for scents aren’t those.

Perhaps the worst is that as a result of joining an MLM company, many of these people alienate their friends and family because they eventually do almost nothing except advertise. While that subreddit is often funny, it also has a lot of sad anecdotes from users who had to cut off friends or relatives because they never contacted them except to try to sell to them or persuade them to join. In worse scenarios, attempts were made to trick or bully them into buying or selling, and they were met with belligerence when they refused. A lot of the regular users of that section refer to MLM as a cult overall. I’m not sure how accurate that really is, but with how common certain elements are (regular jobs and all colleges are scams, assuming anyone who is in college or a regular job is miserable, treating all jobs as office types, willing to alienate their loved ones, refusal to admit some products are faulty, etc), it would indeed come off as a cult if it were more serious than advertising products you bought.

Something that also makes me cringe is a lot of these MLM consultants refer to themselves as “boss babes” or claim they are building an “empire”. I work at a job where we could wear rain boots and cat ears, and still be within the dress code because our bosses are light-hearted and not picky. Yet, unsurprisingly, no one does that because it looks too silly to be taken seriously in any work setting that’s not a daycare center. Five of my seven bosses (managers) are female and the moment “boss babe” came out of their mouths, I’d no longer take them seriously. That’s not to say we don’t have fun at work, but we do it off the clock and away from customers. The other annoying part of this is it calls attention to the “boss” being female. Why? Yes, I understand the need for women to be recognized in the working world, especially in certain fields that are still male by majority, but if feminism is supposed to mean men and women are equal, why is there a need to remind everyone you’re a woman? Isn’t the point that gender is irrelevant and shouldn’t be paid attention to? Personally, I don’t want someone to respect me because I’m a woman. Respect me because I work hard, or I’m kind, or I’m good at whatever I do. But not because I have two X chromosomes!

I do hope there’s someday a way to shut down MLM and pyramid scheme companies. I have personally never encountered a MLM recruiter, but if they are widespread enough to have the reputation they do, the best that can be done for now is warning people of these companies, especially those who fall under the categories these companies tend to aim for. While I lose sympathy the moment the consultants of these companies begin mimicking their tactics, I still do recognize they were likely pressured and had their vulnerable spots hit. I have bent to pressure and gotten farther in over my head than I realized before something finally forced me out. That may be just how most of the people who fall for the empty promises these companies spout have to get out of it. Hopefully, it’s before they have no one left.