I’m going to get pretty serious today, because I’m guilty of a horrible crime: judging a book by its cover.
I really should know better. For all those class trips back in school where I was so thankful to be stuck in a van with the cool kids so they’d be forced to notice my personality and maybe think of me as more than just that weird girl. For all the times I’ve been told my friends’ first impressions of me that were so far from the truth. For every time I’ve tried to prove myself, I should know better. See, it’s not just the popular kids who make judgments on appearance or demeanor. I got called the Weird Girl enough that I started making my own assumptions about people who looked like they belonged to that group. I didn’t want to like them or try to be their friends, because I didn’t want to get hurt. It seemed to work fine, because I found plenty of friends on the same side of that line in the sand.
That’s how I grew up. That’s the kind of adult I became. I turned up my nose at people who I thought cared way too much about their outward appearance. In them, I saw people who would hurt me or ridicule me if I got to close. Did you know that girls play down their intelligence in school in order to appear more attractive and popular? That’s still a thing. Imagine my surprise when all these good looking people grew up and suddenly they were really brilliant. It had been my assumption that looks and brains were a rare combination. Now I just realize that high school was a miserable place for everyone.
Well, my recent transgression occurred online. I frequently watch the Fine Bros’ React videos, and one of the groups they bring in is fellow Youtubers. I don’t really have much of an opinion on most of them, but one guy just always got under my skin. His reactions came across as bitter and jaded. Everything is old news, stupid, not funny or interesting; even his smile seemed sarcastic. He was thin and had his hair brushed over emo-style, and he seemed like a prissy, rich boy. I didn’t like him at all. I thought I’d never watch his videos, because I had already decided what sort of person he was.
He started popping up in my video recommendations, and making guest appearances in other channels. I watched a few of those, but still hadn’t really warmed up to him (of course it took me a while to give Rhett & Link a chance too).
Then it happened. He kept making references to when he was fat. In the related videos, I noticed one where he revisited some old high school videos. It wasn’t like a normal guy saying “Oh, I’m so fat.” He legitimately knows what it’s like to be…well…my size. I dug deeper and found out he really did grow up poor and overweight in a troubled family. I understood a little bit of the bitterness.
“Okay, so what’s he doing right now?” I thought as I visited his most recent videos. His hair was different, combed back to show his face, and he was spilling about reconnecting with his dad. His voice was warmer, his demeanor was softer, and he seemed like a completely different person. He said he’d been seeing a therapist to help him work through his issues.
In another video, he talked about his body dysmorphic disorder, and he almost started to cry when he talked about the struggle that still exists when he looks in the mirror. My heart broke for him, but at the same time it was so beautiful to see him letting all this out, and confronting those demons.
By now, you may have guessed I’m talking about Shane Dawson. If, by some twist of the universe, he ever reads this: Shane, I’m so sorry I didn’t take the time to look beyond the surface. I understand your need for that harsh exterior now. And my message to all you late bloomers who have read through all the way to the end: don’t let your past experiences of the world taint your present. You know better than anyone that sometimes it takes time for the person inside to feel safe enough to come out. Those thorns were planted for protection, so don’t just assume that’s all there is to a person. As he says in his video, if someone is mistreating you, find out why. Ask them. You might be surprised by the person you find.
Thanks for listening 🙂