Elementary school had been all sorts of hell for me. Really it was only the first to sixth grade since my kindergarten class was awesome. But then I moved since the government peoples basically kicked all the people in our neighborhood from their homes and tore down the school to rebuild. So, yea, we moved and I more or less had to finish growing up in those six years following. I already was a bit more independent since my mom had gone straight back to work after I was born, had me do more stuff for myself, but with my brother...not so much. He was coddled, still is. Anyone who sees him can attest to that, so it is not as if I'm revealing some big secret. So he's got some growing up left to do even with him quickly approaching legal adult age.
But back to my elementary school experience. I was bullied. A lot. Made of for my glasses (though people think glasses are so cool now :/ ), called 'emo' even though i had no idea what that was, called anorexic just because I was naturally slender, and crybaby. The last one was because I would cry when people made fun of me. I didn't know how else to deal with it, I just...cried. I told my mom about this I think...once, but nothing came of it. She worked at the school so she assumed the teachers would do something. They didn't. One even said, and i remember with crystal clarity, "She's only doing it for attention. Ignore her and she'll stop." I couldn't understand that at all, and it hurt (it still hurts) and I wanted to cry more. But I did stop. I stopped because all it did was have people make fun of me more. I cried when I was home and alone in my room instead. I had friends of sorts, but...the most weren't that great. The ones who I am still friends with today... I wish had spoken to them more about what some people were saying and doing, since I know they would have done something.
I had one 'friend', though, and...she was mean to me. She was mean, and she even told me once that she did things just to get a reaction form me. I stopped hanging out with her so much after that.
By the sixth grade, I had stopped caring because I had to. If I cared, I knew i would hurt. If I didn't put up a shield of apathy, I would hurt. Maybe it's not the best coping technique, but it was, and is, the best I had. Things got better once i forced myself to stop caring.
The thing is, we all try to create these perfect images and, if someone falls out of that, what do we do? Ostracize them. So few stop and think of how the other person may feel. Some people, like that 'friend' of mine, are simply mean for the sake of it. Others? They're like that because you are different. Now this is before being different counted as 'cool', and, even now, different is 'bad'. People go about saying how awkward they are, how different, how unique, when, really, they're jsut like all the rest. If someone dares do something different, jokes will be made to force the person to conform. But why must we conform? If the new thing is to be different, why can we not accept people for who they are? Why do we still strive for this perfect image?
Because we are human.
As humans, we have an image of beauty set into our brains by our culture. And we try. We try until it breaks us, and we try again. Starving. Binging. Surgery. Hair coloring. Shopping for clothes and shoes. We do whatever it takes for that perfect image. And in the places where things are so easily gained through TV and computers? It makes it worse. The 'perfect' woman or man is plastered everywhere, and most likely photoshopped and airbrushed to death.
All of this translates over to SL, too. The only difference is that, as a different culture in its own right, it has a different ideal body. Women? You've seen the Lolas. Men? Muscular as all hell. Of course there are other things applied to that standard for both, but that's the basic of it. It translates to the RL standards, too, but not to the same degree. Things vary between cultures, including the virtual ones. But it always that you have to have certain things otherwise be labeled some sort of way. Like now: Slink hands and feet. Most shoe makers, that I know of, tend to lean towards Slink only shoes. And god forbid you have hands in your picture if you have 'meat hands'.
As time goes on, beauty and the ingroup changes. In RL: when I was little, wearing a scarf that I had from my Grandma was wrong. But by middle school? The 'popular' people were wearing scarves like mine in the same fashion. No one made fun of them. In SL: Slink hands and feet, two things that didn't exist some months back are now the standard. In either life, I don't care to 'keep up with the times' since those change so quickly, especially the virtual one. I prefer to wear and do what feels right to me, without any care as to what others are thinking. If I want to wear something, put my hair a certain way, then I'll do it. I don't care if it's not the 'thing' at the time. We all claim to be different, but we're all still the same.