Accepting Others

Stephen - Ellisville, Missouri
Entered on January 6, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: freedom

I believe that as teenagers, we should be allowed to express ourselves in whatever way we like as long as no harm comes to us or the people around us. I have a friend who since freshman year has changed so dramatically that it’s hard to believe that it’s him. He went from wearing tie-dyed shirts and listening to Bob Marley CD’s to dying his hair black, piercing his lip and listening to alternative rock bands like The Used and Greeley Estates. As his friend and someone who likes the same music he now listens to I have supported him in his changes. However his parents and class mates have not. When he dyed his hair black his mother freaked out, his dad was extremely unhappy and could not understand what was going on in his sons head. Now his parents have come to accept who and what he is and are ‘ok’ with his decisions. However, as each day passes I see people who dress like him and get ridiculed and stereo-typed before the people who see them can even find out their name! The categories that our society puts us into have become self destructing. One of the United State’s mottos is “United we Stand, Divided we Fall.” America is bound to fall apart. By grouping people together and creating rifts from a young age and teaching our youth to categorize people and shun them for being different we can only hope that when things fall apart someone will be there to put them back together. I can personally attest to how these groups affect teens. Two summers ago I asked my parents if I could dye my hair black with dye that was not permanent. After reluctantly giving in I was allowed to do so. Immediately I noticed a change in the way people looked at me. One day I walked into a Medicine & More store with two of my friends to buy some candy. As we walked in the older woman running the store looked at me and my friend like we were “up to no good.” I had a pair of regular shorts on and a band t-shirt, my other friend was wearing roughly the same type of clothing as me. After about 5 minutes of walking through the store the woman came up to me and my friend and told us to leave. Normally this would not have been a big deal except for the fact that my other friend who was wearing a collared shirt, cargo shorts and nice shoes was not asked to leave. I was shocked that someone would make us leave there store when we were planning on buying candy only because of what we looked like. I believe that if people cannot stop acting this way that our society will always be broken and people will never be able to accept each other.