The Nacirema, a North American tribe, is obsessed with the human body. These people are convinced that our bodies are ugly and diseased. Visiting a witch-doctor regularly to help fix bodily problems is part of their culture. They perform strange routines such as bowing before magical shrine boxes and placing hog hairs in their mouths to improve appearances.
After deep thought about this culture, I first thought it ridiculous the lengths they pursue to preserve the body. That was until I realized that I, too, am a Nacirema (American spelled backwards). Our whole country praises the rich and beautiful, causing everyone, including myself, to worry about external appearances.
This I believe – our nation of America is overly concerned with outer beauty over inner beauty. Every time I open a teen magazine or turn on the television, I am bombarded with images of good-looking, slender models. The media suggest that one should strive to be the prettiest person, not the person with the best character. Our country is so caught up with appearances that we often forget about an individual’s inner personality.
Such drive to be the best-looking makes it difficult to be yourself and show your true colors. I can not always tell who is genuine and who is fake. As teenagers, we are pressured to fit in with the crowd and judge others by popularity and exterior looks, not by individual values and actions.
But, my goal in life is not to be the prettiest or richest. It is to simply be me. I try to focus on being moral and hard-working in everything I do from calculating geometry to playing the viola to competing in soccer. Eventually, I know my route will pay off in a huge way. Developing my talents as a person is more important to a successful future than having the best make-up or haircut. By learning Spanish, excelling in science, and writing great essays, more opportunities will come my way. More colleges may accept me. More employers may hire me. And, friends will know I work hard and follow through. As I grow old, my looks will fade but my skills will remain strong. For example, my dad much prefers his memory of winning a wood-working award in high school over being nominated for Homecoming King. Since he worked hard for his award, he is able to use his wood-working experience to this day.
While I am only a single fourteen-year-old, I believe big changes start with small actions. I can do my part by focusing on the following behaviors. To resist pressure from the media to look a certain way, I will not buy fashion magazines. I will continue to attend weekly masses at church for the benefit of my character and personality. As for developing my talents, I will engage in orchestra and choir, pursue advanced math and strive to make A’s throughout high school. A better world awaits. Why should the Nacirema hold us back?
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