Jezebel and Me
My freshman year of high school, I was like any other shy, bookish girl. With a copy of Ariel in my hands I would dart from class to class, not daring to make eye contact with other students as we passed in the hallway. During lunch I would dive into Franny and Zooey instead of rehashing the details of my day to friends. I used books to escape wallowing in my low self-esteem and my struggle to reconcile my Lutheran upbringing with my liberal personal beliefs about LGBT rights and abortion.?
Back then, the words "I love myself" or "I support gay marriage" seemed equally inutterable. I spent my days picking apart my flaws in a mirror and biting my tongue when classmates made homophobic jokes. I barely had the courage to announce "'X equals 7" to my algebra teacher, let alone to announce my political beliefs to my peers.?
But when I started reading Jezebel.com sophomore year, my life began to shift. Although many of the site's reference points - from sex to Sassy magazine - were unfamiliar to me, it was still more relatable than glossy teen soaps and pure-as-snow Seventeen. During class discussions, I found myself raising my hand to express the new thoughts I had about intersections of race, class, gender, and media. After reading page after page of sex positive, body-snark free articles, I started to feel more comfortable in my skin.?
I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if my fifteen-year-old self hadn't discovered Jezebel. Would time alone have been enough to erode my self-loathing and solidify my political beliefs? I recollect the mass of editorials, statistics, and personal narratives I have read over the years, and say no. Because, to me, Jezebel is as much about challenging the media and society's perception of women as it is about challenging women's perceptions of themselves.
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