Food For Thought | Teen Ink

Food For Thought

February 6, 2009
By Maria Michalos SILVER, Mount Sinai, New York
Maria Michalos SILVER, Mount Sinai, New York
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Do you ever find yourself distracted by the physical 'unconventionality' of a stranger? You know who I'm referring to; the kids at the mall with blue hair and converse sneakers, the woman not even close to a size zero with a Coke-a-Cola in one hand and French fries in the other. How about the timid, shoulder-slumped, eye-glass wearing girl with freckles? Whether it's these characteristics or one of the various others that people find the need to criticize about, we all do it in some way. The underlying question remains posed, why? People of every age and every generation have taken part in this form of prejudice/segregation. Take a baby- cute, tiny, and innocent. How is it that a baby can distinguish between someone they assume is friendly vs. someone they think is unpleasant? Their perceptions seem to be based on what merely meets the eye, a person's outward appearance. Human beings have continued to form barriers between those that are 'different' and those that appear familiar; Hitler's infatuation with blonde hair and blue eyes, expelling those that didn't match up to this 'pure' Aryan race; African Americans facing racism and lack of civil liberties during the civil rights movement; post 9/11, President Bush's 'axis of evil' referring to the middle east instilling a fear in Americans of middle easterners. Why is 'different' interpreted as being a threat? Is it human nature or human nurture that engenders preconceived notions?

It's not as if this isn't a reoccurring theme in the daily lives of teenagers and adults alike. Since as long as I can remember it's been this way- there were always those that were thin and those that were fat, those that wore Abercrombie & Fitch and those that clearly did not, the tall ones and the shorts ones, the 'cool' ones and the not so cool ones. This prejudice only leads to a lack of self-esteem, thwarting the potential of people today. It's no secret that in our society a person whom walks with their backs straight is tall and slender appears sprightly and filled with couth; whereas someone lacking these characteristics 'can' be read as depressed, maybe even remorseful. Is it human nature or human nurture that engenders such preconceived notions? We're accustomed to determining somebody's entire background from simply their appearance. It's nonsensical to think that a person's entirety can be determined from first glance. It may be a trite saying, don't judge a book by its cover, but doesn't it carry some worth?
Shallow or not, it's the way it is. Researchers blame the media, but is it the only culprit? Why as human beings do we find safety in degrading those around us, basing our opinions on completely irrelevant non-substantial ideas? By ostracizing those who step away from the conceptualization of 'cool' people are undoubtedly seeking refuge in conformity. Are we distracting ourselves from those things that are far more important by not taking a closer look in the mirror? The motivation is and continues to be ambiguous. So, what is it that we're so afraid of? Maybe the answer lies within us.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Nov. 4 2015 at 2:55 pm
CiaraSpriggs15 BRONZE, Plaquemine, Louisiana
4 articles 0 photos 3 comments
As the greedy person I am I saw food and immediately clicked on your article, but when I began reading it had nothing to do with food. This article is amazing and speaks to our generation of teens as well as adults today. I agree with you when you say “It may be a trite saying, don’t judge a book by its cover, but doesn’t it carry some worth?” I must admit that we all as humans discriminate without realizing because it feels natural. We do not realize that we are hurting others by doing that or maybe we notice and do not care. Your article inspired me to start thinking twice.