In my opinion chameleons and humans have one thing in common. We change our colours in order to conform to societies “norms”.
I feel I have been a chameleon in so many phases of my life. It began in school, trying to find my place in the social food chain. I tried to change myself in order to fit in and be accepted. I thought my differences were my weaknesses. I thought looking and acting a certain way…by changing my colours I would be accepted one day into a group.
First it started of with my exterior. As an eleven year old I wore blazers, big fluffy jackets, and multicolour tights. I loved bows and sparkles. I dressed how I wanted to dress. In my sixth class photos everyone was wearing Hollister hoodies and jeans while I wore a big yellow bow in my hair, yellow jeans and a stripy blazer. I didn’t even realise I was dressed different to the rest until years later. I was confident in myself. I didn’t care what other people thought of me.
However that all changed the first day of secondary school. That morning I got up early and did my hair. I plaited it and added two butterfly clips. I was really frightened on my first day because I knew nobody. When I walked into school lots of girls were wearing mascara had straight hair and their skirts were rolled up…my skirt was so big for me it touched the floor ( that skirt lasted me 6 years !).
There was a girl near my locker and one of the first things she said to me was ‘what is in your hair’ and started laughing. I ran to the bathroom and binned the butterfly clips, took out my braids and rolled up my skirt. This was the beginning of me becoming a chameleon.
A week later I bought my first Hollister tracksuit. After that I downloaded my first form of social media, which brought on a whole new wave of pressure to look and act a certain way. Peer pressure and fitting into society’s norms is one thing in school but with social media you can multiply that pressure by 100% because you are bombarded everyday with photoshopped pictures and filtered lives which are unattainable. This is where I began to change my interior. My believes and my thought processes began to change. One of my teachers in drama school describes the negative voice in our heads as ‘the little f*****.’ The little f***** in my head began to tell me I was too fat, a failure, that I was weird and needed to change. I began looking at other girls’ instagram accounts and tried to copy the way they posed and dressed. I started following extreme diets and I began to strive for perfection in everything I did. I was changing my colours so often in the hope of acceptance that I forgot what colours I started with. I began to lose sight of who I was.
We all do it, consciously or subconsciously, I think it is a form of survival. From another perspective, I found it hard to watch others turn into chameleons. I had a friend who when were together alone she was funny and kind. She was incredibly intelligent and beautiful. However when we were with this certain group of people her colours changed. She turned into a completely different person. She pretended like she didn’t know me in front of them, and slowly she just cut me off. I think for me the hardest part about this was the sense that I was grieving someone I thought I knew.
I believe one of the fundamental reasons people change their colours so often is because we crave acceptance, love and friendship. When we are embarking on these new relationships, our minds begin to predict what we think other people will like, and we start to listen to the “little f*****”. This saddens me because I believe our unique colours is what makes society beautiful. Without diversity in religion, race, sexuality etc our world would be incredibly bland. We shouldn’t live in fear that we won’t be accepted into society or a group of friends because at the end of the day we are all in the same boat….we are all different !
I believe that the people in this world who spew hatred and are unaccepting towards others, may themselves not be accepting their own true colours. It can be hard to accept others when you can’t accept yourself.
…So now if I could go back and give my younger self advice I would tell her to take those butterfly clips out of the bin and put them back in your hair.