Bon Appetit

April 19, 2012 3:28 pm

Growing up in a western society, especially the UK, has shaped who I am. Through what is considered socially acceptable, seeds have been planted in me that have now grown to create the person I’ve become. I have been able to notice a few examples of what the UK culture has forced me to believe.

Firstly, I would be called absurd if I were to eat bugs or insects. However, in other cultures, like in China, this is perfectly normal. The insects can provide a great source of protein, and actually if people were willing to add them to the dinner plate, then a shortage of food would never again be a problem. However, I was always brought up knowing that picking a worm from the garden and eating it was wrong (though I still tried my best). Maybe it is because we have grown fond of our little friends, like how could we eat the loveable character Z from the 1998 film Antz? Or perhaps, on the contrary, we have grown fearful and disgusted by them, as proven by most celebrities when faced with the eating task in ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!’ Whatever the reason, society has turned me against creepy crawlies, in favour of mud smeared pigs. Delicious.

Secondly is the obsession we have with our women being completely and utterly hairless, except for the head of course. Women naturally grow hair, and in many cultures it is the norm for them to let nature take its course. Over here though, we demand spotlessness. I myself would be highly put off by a hairy woman, an impulse that has been entirely created by the society I live in. It’s for reasons like this that I enjoy the image that we have made for men of being ruggedly handsome (or in other words unshaven and unkempt.) This is also not the only high standard that is increasingly being demanded of women. More and more, impossibly skinny models appear in magazines and women feel compelled to try and match them. This can also be the case for men as well although there is much less pressure on men’s looks. In my opinion though, if I wanted a girl who looked like a Barbie I would simply buy a doll. The variety of shapes that humans come in is what makes them unique and interesting, and everyone trying to achieve the same perfect appearance is nonsense.

Until recently I would never admit to any of my friends that I am an avid reader of novels. Since I was extremely young I have always read. It started of as Mr. Men books and gradually progressed into novels. I have read Phillip Pullman, George Orwell, Bernard Cornwall, David Gemmel, Malorie Blackman and many others. Mind you, so far none have matched Mr. Bump who was my favourite Mr. Man, mostly because he was the only person I know clumsier than me (Yes he is a person!) The point I originally started making there was that I was embarrassed to reveal my love of books because I thought that it was a very ‘girly’ thing. My friends would always say how they had only ever read one book because it was s**t. I would nod and agree, hating myself for not defending my favourite authors. Since I have grown up, I have come to realise that you can still be manly and ‘laddish’ and also read books. Reading is a similar hobby to watching films, just a different type of entertainment. So finally my book collection has forced its way past my toy guns and army men and footballs and other boyish things to the front of my shelf. However, I still wonder how many young boys were in my position of not wanting to admit they read to maintain their masculinity?

To explain this next point I will need to talk you through a situation I found myself in a few months prior. I was in a music shop about to purchase a beautiful Fender Telecaster. At this stage the details are not really important. What is important is that at the desk I was confronted with two people, one a man and the other a woman. I was looking for some advice about the guitar, and hoping to get a little discount on my purchase and for some bizarre reason I automatically veered towards the man, assuming him to be in charge. He told me to hold on whilst he asked his boss. He then duly turned to the woman at his side and she took over negotiations.

The point I’m making is that I automatically believe the man to be in charge in situations such as that. This is not a sexist thing, for believe me, I am not sexist. It is more of an in-built habit. It is possibly because all my life I have been exposed to men in positions of power, such as the Prime Minister, or head teachers at school. I could not pin point the exact reason but I can say with surety that this is a real thing. Sorry all you women out there, next time I will fight my inner bias.

I’m sure there are many other examples of things that UK culture and western society has forced me into believing, despite them not necessarily being true. If anyone can think of any others I would be delighted to hear them. Until then I am going to have a nice plate of cockroaches. Fight the power!

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