Is Image Everything? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   In seventh grade, to put it plainly, I was a loser. Iwas overweight, unathletic, unstylish, short and ugly. I had hardly any friendsand was alone most of the time.

The summer before eighth grade, pubertyset in. I grew five inches, lost my baby fat and my voice deepened. With my newphysical maturity, I bought clothes from The Gap, Banana Republic and Abercrombie& Fitch. I got a new hairstyle, started to use gel and spent more time on myhair. I invested in face scrubs, lotions and cologne. The radio became important,and I made sure I knew the hit songs. I was a more confident teenager and wheneighth grade started, bingo!

The image and confidence worked, and I beganto accumulate friends. I thoroughly enjoyed my newfound popularity, and for awhile, actually believed I was happy. But as I examined my situation moreclosely, I questioned my new friendships. Some people with whom I had dreamed ofbeing friends with just a year before hadn't given me the time of day then. I waspretty much the same person, personality-wise, maybe more mature, but basicallythe same. Why hadn't they noticed me then? Were my new friendships just becauseof my new image? Did they not like me for who I was? Did they even want to findout who I was? I began to believe that any worth I possessed depended on what Ilooked like and what I wore.

I learned how to be just as false with themas they were with me. Society does not honor the intelligent, hardworking orself-sacrificing. No, it honors the beautiful, the stylish, the wealthy and theshallow. And I fit in as long as I kept up my appearance. As my popularity grew,I realized I was changing. I became obsessed with my appearance. I would spend 40minutes in the bathroom every morning creating my perfect image. I hated wearingthe same outfit twice.

As I noticed these changes, I wondered whetherimage is the only thing that really matters. Our society cares so much aboutimage and I, as well as many of my peers, have been sucked into it. And as Ireflect more, I realize I am just a guest at a masquerade ball. That show ofbeautiful masks is the life of people like me. We hide behind elaborate masksthat only project what we appear to be on the exterior. Do the beautiful andstylish hide because we are so insecure about who we are?

People like meare friends with the "right" people, who draw attention but are notreally worth being friends with. I am lucky because I have found true friends,but I know I still have many phony ones. How shallow I have become in thissociety of appearances. The beautiful are adored, the stylish revered, thewealthy envied.

Appearances can be deceptive. What happened to theimportance of personality, kindness and friendship? Style is empty and shouldnever be considered the most important aspect of life. Style and image consumethose who consider them too important. Youth and physical beauty fade but truefriendships never do. Shouldn't we strive for important friendships that willlast a lifetime? It disgusts me sometimes, but I have been sucked in and don'twant to stand out as different. So I will remain an actor in this masquerade,wearing my Gap, Banana Republic and Abercrombie & Fitch.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 11 at 8:14 am
i love this so much!
Ticktock said...
Jan. 18, 2010 at 6:37 pm
Very interesting
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