Picture Day. For me, whenever I hear this I think of three words.

What to wear? 
I’ve never been so concerned about what I wore, only hoping to look good, but this year I was in full panic-mode. Perhaps there’s more stress on what to wear now that I’m older. Middle school is the time where you start to take notice of yourself and what you do, so naturally, looking good for picture day would be a big deal. Or so I thought. Before I share my recent picture Day experience, let’s travel a few years into the past.

Elementary School. The time where we would have everyday outfits chosen by our parents, until we were allowed to do so ourselves. Hence, the numerous pictures of us dressed up extremely fancy for picture day. Slowly over time, we've started to grow out of that, like I’ve said, and we start to have our own choices. Some kids don’t dress up at all. Some do. Either way, it’s simply for a picture. But, this year’s Picture Day has been playing on my mind, and that’s why I’m bringing this up.

This year was a shock to me. As soon as I stepped into the school, I began to grow more and more unsure of my outfit after seeing the other students. I had worn something semi-fancy that day. It felt as if no one dressed up at all, and I had made a fool of myself. Everyone wore something so basic, I wondered whether they remembered it was picture day or not. I was even more surprised seeing how many of the girls also didn’t dress up as well. Almost every year I would see stylish blouses or flowery dresses for pictures, but instead it was the regular ripped jeans and shirt. I couldn’t understand what changed through the past year, causing this to happen. It wasn’t until later where I had a possible theory.

Maybe it’s just that people have started to care less for Picture Day. Well, I doubt many people would be excited for Picture Day. Maybe they are, but generally, kids don’t like Picture Day that much. It’s a hassle to have to dress up and pose nicely while giving your best fake smile. Other than possible pictures to buy for updated portraits, what else is Picture Day for? ID’s? I don’t mind if it’s used for ID’s or maybe for the yearbook, but otherwise it feels so unnecessary. For me, I don’t even keep my pictures. I can’t be bothered to buy pictures of myself that will be replaced after a year. Not only that, I can take better pictures in places besides photoshopped green screens. ( No offense towards the Picture Day photographers.) So, really what is Picture Day meant to be for. Other students might have also realized that by now, and that’s probably also why they stopped dressing up. But, there is also one more possibility.

Dress Codes. Dress Codes are there for a reason, but right now, I want to state some opinions. Dress Codes suck. This may stray a bit from the Picture Day topic, but I believe this must be brought up. I feel like every Dress Code that exists, is meant just for the girls. I was reading through my school’s Dress and Grooming section in the Student Handbook, and frankly, it seems to be mainly towards girls. There are a few points directed to both, but in a given diagram of appropriate wear, there are far more labels for the girl than the boy. There are logical reasons for this, and I agree with them. But it seems so wrong. With the number of guidelines towards clothes for girls, it’s almost like they can barely wear anything we like. In fact, most of the time, girls doubt their favorite outfits or clothing choices because they’re worried about whether they will get dress-coded or not. And even when they are sure they won't, they still can’t help but remain tense the whole day. So, that could also be a reason for the lack of dress up on Picture Day.

Apart from girls, boys have also started to dress up less. Even less than they usually do. Every year, I only see a mere handful of the boys dressing up. Boys aren’t that concerned about dressing up as girls normally have been. Even now, I don’t recall seeing a single boy stick out who was dressed up. Maybe they wore a simple, nice shirt with slicked back hair, but otherwise it wasn’t that “grand”.

It doesn’t bother me if people dress up on Picture Day or not. Never has. But, the reason I wanted to write about this was because of the strange interaction I had that day. I just found it unbelievable how not many people, especially the majority of girls, didn’t dress up. I thought that now we were closer to high school, even more people would dress up. Never expected the opposite. Still, it was a good insight into what Picture Day really is like these days. But I genuinely want to know, what was the cause of change this year?



Hey! I wanted to apologize for writing such a short post this time. Usually the topic would be much more detailed and way better, but since Picture Day became the highlight of my week, I really wanted to write something regarding it. There wasn’t much to explain, but I still wanted to share what it was like compared to what I had seen in previous years. I promise, the next post will be much more interesting and hopefully, much better. Thanks!

Recently, when I came back to middle school in person, the biggest change I recognized was the appearance of makeup. Seeing this made me think that they were trying too hard to be someone else, or that they were doing something unnecessary or their faces. But through the weeks, I’ve started to discover that there was more to makeup. It seemed that most people wore makeup to fit in and not be different. This led me to a big question. 

Is makeup necessary to fit in, in Middle School?

Yes, and no. Makeup can be used to fit in, but that isn’t the main reason why it would be worn. For example:


  • Insecurities

  • Self-confidence

  • Performances

  • Drawing attention away from something eye-catching


I’ll talk about these more throughout the post. Along the way, I’ll share my views on these, as well as the opinions of many others on this topic.




In order to collect this data, I sent out a survey to several of my classmates and teachers. Throughout the week, responses have been flooding in with so many different perspectives, that my own opinion on makeup has changed a lot. 


Here’s what they were asked: 

  • Do you think girls at this age should wear makeup?
  • Why or Why not?
  • How much would some makeup be?
  • How much would a lot of makeup be?
  • Why do you think others would wear makeup?
  • Is makeup a need or a want? Why? 
  • Is makeup only for girls? Can boys wear it as well?
  • Does wearing makeup make boys girlish and less manly, or not?


When I first saw the responses, I was shocked, yet pleasantly surprised. I thought that the general answer for whether girls should wear makeup or not would be no. It was the opposite. The most common answer for why was expression. A lot of people replied that makeup can be used to express their feelings or even themselves in new ways, as well as to become more confident in their appearances. Reading this, I realized that they were right. In my mind, I thought that makeup showed a fake appearance of someone, and was used only to look good. I didn’t realize how it could be seen as something completely different for others. 


 For some, it helps define their personalities and even can help improve their confidence and self-esteem. Middle school and high school are the ages where we start to become more aware of our appearance to others. We become self-conscious about every trivial thing about ourselves and become insecure about them. Makeup is a way we can hide these insecurities. By doing so, makes us feel more physically attractive, and make us feel confident. 


How? By using makeup, it allows us to present ourselves in a way we want to be seen, and be comfortable. 


I can relate to similar concepts. When I dress up or change my appearance through nails or hairstyle, I feel a different personality. The adrenaline and excitement from it peaks my mood, and I feel absolutely incredible. It’s like acting. With a new boost of confidence, I feel like a whole other person. I think that those who wear makeup might also feel the same way. Wearing it makes them feel special and lets them become a different version of themselves. It lets them be themselves, and because of that, I think that they should be allowed to wear makeup. However, I also believe that kids should try to feel confident by being themselves. Once they are confident with who they are, then they should use it. I will say though, that they should only do so if their parents allow them to. Makeup can be harmful to your skin and wearing it every day will damage it even more.


Another reason for makeup is, taking attention away from something eye-catching. A blemish is an example of this. Blemishes are usually the first thing one would notice since it’s something eye-catching. These things draw our attention from the main thing and make us focus on it instead. For people, it can make them insecure, or even annoyed. Perhaps, when they’re talking, the other person’s attention might be drawn from the conversation to the blemish. To prevent this, that person could conceal it with makeup.


Scars or even wounds are also examples of eye-catching marks. For example, in The Karate Kid, Dre uses his mother’s foundation to hide his black eye so she wouldn’t find out about his fight. Dre is using makeup to hide something eye-catching so attention is not drawn to it. 


Besides insecurities and self-confidence, makeup is very commonly used in performances. Be it movie filming, dance performances, plays, etc, makeup is used. It’s used to take on the appearance of the character or act they’re performing as/for. A lot of theatrical makeup can be used to really portray the character to the full extent so the audience can be convinced. 




How much is some makeup? How much would a lot of makeup be? 


The responses to these two questions were very similar. For some makeup, the most common answers were mascara, lip gloss/lipstick, eyeliner, some blush, and concealer. I agree as well. I don’t know much about makeup, these being the only ones I know and think that at this age, this should be the most used. I would consider anything more would be too much, and perhaps improper for school. It doesn’t feel necessary for people to use so much every day. 


Everyone expressed the same answer for a lot of makeup. A full face, or an amount that changes the natural appearance of someone to the point they are almost unrecognizable. I have a connection to this. I see a girl every day, and she wears makeup. There’s nothing wrong with it. But, whenever I see her, I get confused. On the first day of school, I mistook her for a high schooler. I’m not sure if it’s how her face is, or because of the makeup, but she looks as if she’s in 10th grade. I don’t want to assume anything, but I  couldn’t help but wonder about it. I remember trying to figure out what she would look like without makeup. Perhaps that’s the type of look she’s going for. I’m not criticizing or throwing any hate at her. I’m really just wondering. But, to me, it feels as if her appearance is different because of it. So, would that be considered a lot of makeup?


Why do you think others would wear makeup?


I’ve already shared my opinions, and I’d like to share the responses here instead. 


Some respondents mentioned insecurities and self-confidence like I mentioned before, and others mentioned dressing up. Someone mentioned it makes us feel special. I can easily relate to that. I’ve always felt different, in a good way, whenever I got to wear makeup for special occasions. It felt…magical. 


Another respondent talked about how girls are raised to believe that their value lies in how they look. That’s true as well. On social media, influencers show photoshopped and filtered images of themselves, creating an unattainable beauty standard. These fake images have a bad influence on others. It can become a social norm to reach that standard and develops into pressure. 


There was also a mention of “artistic flair”. After all, isn’t a face also like a canvas? Using makeup is very similar to painting something. I remember when I was younger, I and my friend would use her makeup kit on each other. Well, I would use it on her. What I would do is try out different styles and looks on her, and would experiment with them. ( With her consent of course.) I really enjoyed those moments because I was able to try a new form of art and try to express myself on a different canvas. I liked to find what matched my friend and to try and make her look amazing. Others could feel the same way. They might like expressing art through makeup and enjoy trying different styles and shades of colors on themselves. 


Someone also said that it could be worn to impress someone. I’m not sure if that’s a common reason in middle school, but definitely in high school. Girls will often try to change their appearance or use some makeup to make themselves appealing for a crush, or even in general. Boys as well. They could try to be strong or amazing at sports in order to impress someone they like.


Is makeup a need or a want?


Once again, everyone had a similar response. It’s a want. It’s not something you cannot live without. It can be seen as something important in one’s life if people use it every day, but it’s not a need. 


The respondents said the same thing. One said makeup is a want and is used to feel beautiful, but it’s not needed to look so. Very true. Even though makeup can help boost our image, it cannot compare to the natural beauty you already have. Everyone is beautiful, and we all don’t realize it. Another said it’s not something needed to function in everyday life. Makeup isn’t something you will die without. Food, water, and oxygen are some of the main things we cannot live without. Everything else comes after that. 


People say that makeup is something they absolutely cannot go without. Some people use makeup to hide excessive scarring or permanent wounds. Because they use it so much, it’s almost like a habit for them. Even so, it’s not to a point it’s a need. It may be something really important and a way to not make them stand out, but it wouldn’t count as crucial. It is not something that they will die from if they don’t have it. I’m not trying to sound harsh, but state the facts. 


If you were in a situation where you were stranded, would the makeup be the number one thing you would need at that moment? No. You would first have to find some kind of shelter, food, and water before planning a way to get some help. Your first idea would be to survive in a new environment. How you look would, and should, be the least of your worries. 


Is makeup only for girls? Can boys wear it as well?


In this discussion, I’ve used the word ‘us’ many times. By doing so, I’m not just referring to myself and other girls/women, but also to boys and men as well. In my opinion, makeup shouldn’t have a label and should be considered gender-neutral. I’ve expressed this before in an earlier post, and want to say it again. Shirts and shoes are seen as gender-neutral, but when it comes to dresses or makeup, it’s immediately labeled as feminine. Why is that? One of the earliest cultures to use cosmetics was ancient Egypt, and even then both men and women wore makeup. Back then it was considered gender-neutral, yet because girls use it more often today, has it started to become feminine? The gender that uses it shouldn’t necessarily define what it is. Makeup shouldn’t be only for girls if they use it more commonly. Boys shouldn’t be afraid to use makeup if they like it, simply because it’s only for girls. Makeup should have no label, like clothing. 


The respondents also felt the same way. In fact, the majority of responses to this question were very positive. Many of them answered it as if addressing a boy instead of a survey, and were encouraging them that they were allowed to wear it if they wanted to as well. They were very open to the idea of boys wearing it as well. 


I also received some responses about how it would be strange for guys to wear makeup. There’s nothing wrong with that as well. Despite that makeup can be gender-neutral, it can still be seen as awkward whenever boys wear it. Since makeup has become more common with girls, seeing a guy wearing makeup can be strange.  I think that makeup is gender-neutral, but if I see a guy wearing it, I might be hesitant. It seems out of place and we might wonder what’s wrong with them, or why they want to do such a thing. It doesn’t feel right. 


I think the answer to this depends on society. It really depends on what you’re exposed to or sees commonly. In America, it’s not very common for guys to wear makeup, making it be seen as something only girls would wear. In other countries, it’s different. For example, in Korea, it’s typical for boys to wear makeup. Several male K-pop idols wear makeup, and it’s considered normal. But to other countries, they can be seen as gay or feminine. Because of the society, they are around all the time, seeing something completely different is a shock. 


Does boys wearing makeup make them girlish and less manly, or not?


The responses for this were similar to the previous question. Many replied that makeup can be for both. Someone said that if a guy wears makeup, people can be confused about their sexual identity. Since it’s not common, seeing it makes us find a reasonable explanation for it and assume something different, even if the guy really just likes to wear makeup. 

A couple of respondents also mentioned how makeup can also be used for guys to express themselves and enhance their looks like girls do. 


I want to point out one response that caught my attention. This respondent replied that a guy wearing makeup isn’t girlish, and is more manly because they are not afraid to be judged for their actions. I wholeheartedly agree. When a guy wears makeup in our society, he’s indeed very brave. That guy is defying social norms for something he likes and isn’t worried about others’ opinions. He could be terrified, but then again, he wanted to do something outside of what is normal. That courage is truly remarkable. 


Another respondent also talked about makeup being gender-neutral and explained how there’s a huge stigma around men/boys wearing makeup. They also said how it shouldn’t be girly as it’s a form of self-expression. This also relates to K-pop idols. Makeup can be used to help them with performances, and can also give them a boost of confidence like it does for girls. I know that Jimin from BTS finds eyeliner important when it comes to performances. For him, without it, he feels shy and cannot dance in a more powerful manner. Aren’t the situations similar?


Both boys and girls use makeup for similar purposes. It lets them express themselves, and feel confident. So why should makeup be labeled as feminine? By taking that away from boys who like it, aren’t you restricting them from being themselves? If makeup is how they want to do that, then shouldn’t they be allowed to? Don’t classify it as only a girl-thing, when the purposes of it are common between boys and girls. 



Let's go back to our question. 

Is it necessary to use makeup to fit in, in Middle school?

No. Makeup is not NECESSARY to be used to fit in, but it can be. We shouldn't use makeup only if others are wearing it, but only if we want to. It's something that should be your choice. Not everyone has to wear makeup if they choose not. If it's your choice to wear makeup to fit in, that's fine. But try to be yourself when wearing it.

Makeup can be used to not stand out and be different, but it also serves as something greater for others. It can be a form of confidence, a way to hide insecurities, draw attention away from eye-catching marks, and so much more. It also can be used by both genders. I believe that makeup should not have a limit to what it is used for, or to who uses it. It should be used by anyone, anyway, they want, no matter what. 




Welcome back to Part 3 of the “Middle School Tales: Experiences from a back-to-in-person-learning middle school student” series. Yes, I did just come up with that name and yes, it is very long. Anyways, I wanted to share some more funny and interesting stories from my in person learning experience.

Like I’ve said many, many, many times before, I have been an online learner for 1 and ½ years. Coming back to school in-person has been extremely challenging, and very different. Everything in your learning environment changes. But, what changes in the students during middle school?

Growth Spurts:

You know how when you go to a new grade or advance to a new level of school, you always admire how tall the oldest, senior-most kids are? Well, that’s similar to what happened with me and my friend. Except, it was us who were amazed at how tall our peers were compared to ourselves. Standing next to them, we look so small! And yet I was so proud to be 5’3 and the tallest in my friend group. Some kids in my grade are extremely tall, no doubt there, but overall, if you line up all the students in my grade, I will most likely be somewhere near the front. In fact, we actually did that in two of my classes, and both times I ended up near the beginning of the line. ( It went from shortest to tallest.)

It’s funny how that happened because it only felt like yesterday when we were all in elementary school and were all the same height. It felt like we were on the same level as one another but now it’s surprising seeing how we’re not. I remember a girl who was in my 2nd grade class who was the same height as me, and now, she’s at least 3-4 inches taller than me. When did that happen?

Not to forget the boys. Oh my god, when I came back to school, I was so shocked with how different the boys were. The most specific thing to me was the voice. I’ve always known that boys’ voices deepen during puberty, but I was so caught off guard when I heard them. There’s a boy who was in my 5th grade class before, and his voice used to be a bit high-pitched. But now, it’s deepened. Hearing him speak feels awkward now.

Conversations:

A lot changes over time. Both boys and girls talk about similar topics; what new cool things are going on, and joking around. But as the years go by, the conversations start to become more…dry. 
Lately, I find myself growing more distant from the usual girl groups or in the topics with girls. Before, when we used to talk about silly fantasies and make jokes, we now talk about who’s cute and hot and what shampoo you use and stuff. I don’t mind from time to time, but I have one specific example of this happening that I really want to share.

So in CCR- College Career Readiness class- we were supposed to share our results from a personality assessment we took the day before, with a group of three. My tablemate invited me to join her group with her friend and we all shared our results. We finished our discussions early so we ended up talking the rest of the time. Or more like, they ended up talking. They started talking about haircuts and what lotion or shampoo they use and stuff. Less than 5 minutes in, I was already bored. I didn’t want to sit around and listen to how you wanted to cut your hair or what products you used. Giving up on listening, I turned my head forward, as our seats were currently in rows, and found a more interesting conversation with the boys.

Boys are interesting. There may be times where they can be incredibly stupid and will make you want to kick them in the leg, but, at least they have a conversation of variety that’ll make you want to listen further. And that's exactly what happened. I don’t remember the exact conversation going on between the boys, but I do remember how they were all joking around and talking about the most random things.

It made me remember a specific memory I kind of cherish back from 6th grade. I and a few other students part of my Leadworthy Class got to help out in an 8th grade parent-student lunch event. We were supposed to give each parent a name tag, hold the doors open, and take them to the lunch area. Anyways, I and two other boys were on door-holding duty for some time. It got pretty boring as no one showed up for some time, so we started making small talk with one another. Standing some distance away from us was an 8th grader waiting for his parents, and had been waiting for a while. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation was initiated, but I do remember how we were all coming up with these crazy theories about how the boy could have gotten here. Teleportation, aliens, undead armies, etc. It was probably one of the best and most interesting conversations I’ve ever had in my life.

I’m not saying that all conversations with girls are boring, but definitely most of them have started to become so. Of course, I do enjoy listening to my friend talk about her crushes and giving my opinion every now and then. 

Comparing:

I’ve also noticed how comparison has become more common in middle school. At this age, everyone looks to be the -est. Who’s the prettiest, smartest, funniest, kindest, etc. It’s all about who’s better than each other and a competition that drives it. 


In this past week, I have had numerous experiences with classmates and friends comparing themselves in grades with me and with others. I don’t mind from time to time to share my scores, but it really upsets me when a person starts sharing my score with another person when it wasn’t necessary. Firstly, that’s not yours to tell, and secondly, why? If I stay quiet in that situation, then isn’t it obvious I don’t want to bring it up? I’m not criticizing anyone who did it, but I’m just saying that it makes the person in that situation uncomfortable. We can’t always control the fighting ambition in us to become the best, but there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. 

Blending in:

Blending in is probably one of the biggest factors in middle school. At this time, nobody wants to be different. If you’re different, it’s a problem. Everyone’s looking for some kind of group or some category where they can belong and not stand out. It’s terrifying to stand out. Standing out draws attention. It makes everyone see that you’re different, and because you’re different, you get judged. For that reason, everyone wants to fit in. But in high school, everyone decides to be different. We realize that we cannot blend in all our lives and need to show a level of unique within ourselves to become the best. But until then, no no. 

I don’t have an examples of this happening to me, but I’ve seen it happen a lot of times with different clothing styles and activities. 

I’ve only listed a few changes that happen in middle school. Of course, there are many other that I’ve encountered this past week, bit these are the main ones I wanted to share. It’s interesting how only a day ago we were all elementary kids, and now we’ve all grown up and are in our last year of middle school. Not only that, the change from 6th to 8th is huge! How much have I missed from online school?! Still, I enjoy discovering what I’ve missed, and look forward to finding out what is next. Until then, bye!