Nonfiction by Katie Campbell
All my life, I’ve been the good girl that follows directions, maintains good grades, tries to be nice to everyone, and is a lot more innocent than most people. I generally don’t show too much skin, not because I’m uncomfortable, at least anymore, but because I’m cold a lot of the time. Also, because I don’t feel the need to entice guys with my body. Growing up in a conservative, Christian household with older parents, I never really had the option of wearing anything super-revealing, and I didn’t have a problem with that. My dad always told me to leave stuff to the imagination.
It seems that girls just can’t win in this world. Either we’re too slutty or not slutty enough, too innocent. But whichever type of girl you are, boys will always objectify you, there’s just no escaping it in today’s society. It’s something that I never really paid attention to because I’ve been more interested in not freezing to death. The thought of sacrificing my warmth to appeal to the boys around me at school was appalling and never would have crossed my mind. Who cares about what they think of me? I rock whatever sweatshirt I’m wearing, and their opinions are irrelevant. They’ll just have to get over it. I’m sorry if my wrists and ankles aren’t enough to please you. Sorry if I don’t feel like throwing myself at every guy that comes around.
Sorry that I have a shred of self-respect.
Of course, now there are days where I go back and forth between caring and not caring what they think of me. But maybe that’s just a girl thing. We all do it, right? One day, you might be on top of the world and feeling so good about yourself and no one could possibly bring you down. Then, the next day, you wake up and the world comes crashing down on you and you wish you could just blend into a wall and pray no one notices you. Maybe this happens because of something that someone says to you. Or maybe you just get into your head and have no clue how to get yourself out.
There was one incident that I would say really affected me more than anything else and made me start to question myself. That was the day everything changed.
I had recently been dumped unceremoniously by a jerk who shan’t be named. He knows exactly who he is. I heard from a friend that he had been talking trash about me in class. He was telling his friends how it was a dumb relationship because I wouldn’t “put out” and how I was “such a prude.” That is complete BS because he was the one who brought that whole conversation up in the first place and said he was fine with waiting.
Anyways, it felt like he was labeling me a typical, judgy little old lady that you might find at a church with frown lines so deep they could challenge the Grand Canyon. You can barely see her eyes because she squints so hard at everyone she comes across because they’re all sinners. She faints whenever she sees someone’s knees, or a girl’s ankles, waving her cane pointedly, screaming at passerby with a frail, shaky voice, “showing skin is a SIN and y’all are going to HELL!”
And when I confronted him about it, he said he didn’t mean it, that “that wasn’t the right word to use…” And then he had the audacity to say to me, “I take it back.”
You take it back? Let me be perfectly clear: You can’t just take back what you say.
So for his sake, if he happens to read this, I want him to know what the true definition of prude, according to Google, is:
“A person who is or claims to be easily shocked by matters relating to sex or nudity.”
So, if you were trying to get at how I cover up because I’m cold, you need to rethink what you said. Do I cry and wash my virgin eyes out with holy water every time a sex scene comes on TV or whenever I see a guy during the summer without a shirt on?
I think the frick not.
Don’t try and use big, complicated words that you don’t know the meaning of when you try to describe someone. I would recommend looking things up before you speak your unsolicited, irrelevant opinion.
After he said that about me, I reverted back to the self-conscious, comparative mindset that plagued me in my middle school days. The mindset that had me constantly comparing my body and what I was wearing to all the other girls in my school. The little voice in my head would tell me, “All the other girls are wearing miniskirts and v-neck t-shirts to show off their C cup breasts and cleavage, and they all have boyfriends. What are you doing? Three layers of shirts, sweatshirts and jeans all the time? You need to change. And soon.”
This was something that I had fought hard to overcome, but he brought it all back. I began thinking I needed to appeal more to guys’ standards. I was telling myself that I shouldn’t wear sweatshirts as often; I needed to show more skin and be more appealing. I stuffed all of my sweatshirts into the back of my drawers. Not long after, I wore a little black dress to school that had a v-neck so low it came to halfway down my stomach, and was so short I had to pull it down every 10 seconds in fear I would flash someone. My dresses and skirts got more use, and my yoga pants and jeans were pushed to the side. Those couple weeks, all eyes were on me, and I had so many guys giving me the “up down” and a little whistle. All eyes except for his. He couldn’t be bothered to look. Fortunately, this didn’t continue for long. Winter was fast approaching and the cold snapped me out of it.
In the beginning of December, he planned a “double date” kind of thing and made my friend invite me and make sure that I came at all costs, but not mention that he would be there, because he was afraid I would say no. So naturally, she told me he was going to be there, and I said no. At first. But after about an hour of begging and pleading, I finally agreed. In the middle of the date, he pulled me aside to tell me how sorry he was and that he understood if I never wanted anything to do with him again. He hoped that we could at least be friends. In my mind, I already knew that I forgave him. I was blinded by “what if’s.”
What if he changes? What if he actually cares about me? What if he won’t hurt me again? What if we actually work out? What if I still love him?
Right before Christmas, we went on another kind-of-double-date to Zoo Lights. It was perfect and magical. I would have called it our second first date, but we weren’t technically together again. That is, until the end of the night when he gave me my Christmas present: a silver necklace with a heart pendant that had 11 diamonds in it. It seemed a bit excessive, especially since we weren’t even together, but it was stunning, nonetheless. My friend excitedly asked us if we were finally dating again. I looked up at him, not wanting to answer. He paused, looked at me, and said, “Sure…if you want to?”
I nodded vigorously, a giant smile slowly spreading across my face.
In a matter of seconds, I made the dumbest decision of my life and got back together with him. I barely took a moment to ask myself if I was sure. If I could, I would go back and not give him the chance to walk all over me like I was nothing, for the second time in a row.
As you can imagine, it ended poorly not long after it began—again. He hadn’t changed at all. Within a matter of days, he went back to ignoring me, not putting any effort in, and just being rude. It didn’t feel like we were dating at all, again.
Ladies, we all can relate, right? You think you can change a guy, or you have this glowing perfect image of him in your mind, but then reality hits you like a truck going full speed, and he’s in the driver’s seat, mashing his foot on the accelerator and not changing course, at all.
He wasn’t the same kid I crushed on (dare I say fell in love with?) in middle school. He wasn’t into the whole good girl thing anymore, and I would never be able to change that. I was willing to change for him – to be less uptight and stressed and become more flexible. I was willing to give up so much time for him to just hang out and do absolutely nothing for hours. I was willing to make myself more appealing to his standards. I was willing to do just about anything to keep him. However, I was not willing to compromise my character and beliefs.
He wasn’t willing to do anything.
So, I think I have sufficiently learned my lesson to not date low-life, toxic individuals like him who make you question yourself and your self-worth, anymore.
I am enough.
In time, I will eventually stumble across that perfect someone. The one who loves me and appreciates me for who I already am. But I realize that having that someone is like having a piece of your favorite candy. It’s a nice extra thing that you enjoy, but it’s not a necessity. I don’t need that chocolate to live, but it is still one of my favorite things. Now that I have gone through the hard times, I know the baseline for what my someone will be like.
They won’t care if I cover up; that’s my choice, and they will accept me for that. They won’t care if I steal their sweatshirts; that’s a quirk I have, and they will love me despite it. They won’t care if my body isn’t quite that of a goddess; they will accept it anyways and appreciate what they have, when they have it. They will love every inch of all this goodness.
Although, I have bigger aspirations in life than just finding a supportive significant other. I am an independent young woman who doesn’t need a man to validate herself. I am strong. I am smart. I am beautiful. I am not a prude just for not appealing to someone’s standards.
I am worth it.
Katie Campbell is a high school senior at Fort Vancouver HS for International Studies. She enjoys spending time with friends and her pets.