Beware of Social Constructs

I pulled myself over when driving last week. As in, I violated a traffic signal, and then—without thinking—slowly made my way to the curb to await my punishment. Only there was no cop behind me.

I don’t know if this makes me an incredibly upstanding citizen or just overly submissive. Both, maybe?

I was already halfway through the red light when I realized it was red. Don’t worry, it wasn’t a major intersection or anything…but I still wouldn’t call running a red light safe. Luckily, I didn’t hit a baby stroller or even a Prius, but this story definitely had potential to end poorly. It’s not my fault, though. Blame Taylor Swift.

taylor swift

Like most of Taylor Swift’s 45,000,000,000 fans, I tend to forget that anything else exists when one of her songs comes on the radio. In this particular instance, I was listening intently to “Wildest Dreams” and wondering if she does her own back up vocals. Does she have the time? Apparently I was listening with my eyes, though, because they were too distracted to notice the red light in front of me. In all fairness, it was one of those lights that is only one block away after you take a right turn, so you’re practically already under it as soon as you turn onto the street.

I don’t know why I’m making excuses.

Clearly, I deserved a ticket—as seen by my natural reaction to pull myself over. But once I realized no police car was going to show up, I drove away like a guilty, yet relieved, criminal. The feeling was akin to accidentally shoplifting, then trying to return the product, but the store already went out of business. With no option of returning the item, you have to keep it—which is cool, but also feels like you got away with a bad thing, and now karma is creeping over your shoulder planning sweet, sweet revenge. I didn’t ask for this!

When I was not busy getting fake traffic tickets this week, I was thinking a lot about social constructs. Come to think of it, road signals are kind of social constructs, but less abstract…and also safety-oriented…so really not social constructs at all. Just literal constructs. Perhaps we need a definition to work by:

social construct (Google)- an idea or notion that appears to be natural and obvious to people who accept it but may or may not represent reality, so it remains largely an invention or artifice of a given society 

The following is a short, non-exhaustive list of social constructs with which I take issue:

  • Weight
  • Make up
  • Shaking hands
  • Not ordering a bottle of wine at a bar unless you’re splitting it with someone else
  • Wedding cakes

Why do we so blindly allow our brains to accept certain ideas of “normal,” when so many of those ideas are ridiculous? Take wedding cakes. They’ve supposedly been around since medieval times, which I have a hard time believing. I got that fun fact off of Wikipedia, though, so my guess is that someone in the modern wedding industry inaccurately wrote “Wedding Cake History” on Wikipedia in order for brides to feel like cakes that cost more than a semester’s tuition are symbolic and “necessary” at a wedding. WHY. (And don’t say cupcakes are any different. It’s the same thing, only deconstructed and cheaper.)

Then there’s shaking hands. Who decided that we have to touch a stranger’s germ-ridden palm in order to show respect? Can’t we just say “Nice to meet you” or “Thank you” and leave it at that? Why am I rude if I don’t prove to you that I have the motor skills to squeeze your hand with the appropriate pressure while simultaneously looking you in the eye and saying some colloquial pre-determined phrase? What is this, a circus act?

circus act

Speaking of circuses i.e. clowns, I’ve slowly been weaning myself off of make up. (Sorry, Aaron.) Do women really need to wear sticky brown and black stuff on their faces in order to look “professional” or “put together”? Don’t get me wrong, I still plan on wearing a lot some on my wedding day and probably on most weekend nights at the local bars. However, for daily activities like work, Target runs, and lunch at Panera, why should I waste the $.75 on make up? It probably costs at least that much to put on foundation, concealer, powder, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara every day. Then there’s the cost of make up wipes to remove it every night, or in my case, the cost of pillow cases that end up with black smudges all over them because taking off make up is not a priority once I see my bed.

I started by foregoing eyeliner. Then eyeshadow. Then concealer. Then mascara. Now, I pretty much only wear a teeny bit of foundation and blush and call it a morning. Honestly, I feel pretty good and my eyelashes are really soft. You should try it. And to top it all off, no children have pointed, screamed, then run in the other direction. A very pleasant surprise, I must say.

Sorry that this post has turned into something of a rant, but my point is that we should step back and really think about how we see the world. It’s important to sift through social constructs that are beneficial vs. social constructs that are destructive. Clearly appearance-oriented social constructs tend to be destructive since we aren’t all clones of eachother, yet for some reason, we attempt to fit ourselves into one of three “acceptable” molds (for women): Crossfit muscle-lover, skinny psedudo-toned model, or Kim Kardashian. Ugh. So, that’s an example of a destructive social construct, but things like not farting in public and waving at people you know are probably for the betterment of society.

queen elizabeth waving

All I ask is that you think. Think hard about why you do what you do and why you like what you like. Because robots are coming, and they will likely take your job soon. Make your mind valuable. I also just want you to realize that you don’t “need” most things. They’re just things society tells you that you should have. Lastly, remember that you’re naturally pretty, because God made you. That’s the only measurement of beauty worth your attention. If you’re not literally killing yourself by downing 30 Twinkies a day, then you’re perfect just the way you are. [Cue Bruno Mars.] Everything else is just an “ideal” that society created– probably to make money. So take charge of your mind and just do you!

just the way you are

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2 Comments

Filed under General Musings

2 responses to “Beware of Social Constructs

  1. Jess

    I just snorted coffee out of my nose at the Voldemort meme.

  2. hehehe that was basically my reaction when i saw it, as well

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