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Embrace the Abnormals

Those violating social norms in the name of good fun are people, too

by Published: Jan 16, 2013

I’m a man with painted toenails, and there isn’t a thing wrong with that.

All right, I got your attention. It seems odd to me that, in 2013, “different” appearances and styles can still be so readily judged and dismissed—even something so simple as length of hair. By doing something that, if you think about it, isn’t really that weird but merely violates those ever indecipherable “social norms,” people set themselves up for a lot of grief.

Granted, in the country’s more coastal metropolises, a sleeve of tattoos or a mohawk would hardly merit a second lool—thus “ever indecipherable social norms.” Some places have it right, or at least more right. In many places, such as our own midwest, so much as shaving a part of your head will earn disapproving looks, and that’s simply ridiculous. It’s just hair/ink/food/music/a non-sexual body part.

The average life expectancy for an American is about 78.2 years, depending on your feelings concerning Wikipedia. Spending the majority of those 78.2 years with relatively the same style and color of hair, as well as tattoo-less, piercing-less, and never having worn bright green pants, is absolutely within the rights of every American, and all the best to them as they do so. That’s their style, and that is just fine. However, isn’t it just as fine to do exactly the opposite? It’s simply their chosen way of doing things. If the former is fine, just fine, why isn’t the latter? That age-old addend should be applied: “They’re not hurting anyone.”

Take gender rules. Guys can’t wear nail polish, dyeing their hair is questionable, crying over television (or movies, or books or anything) is weak, and disliking sports is the eighth deadly sin (it’s in the Bible and everything, I think).

Girls can’t have casual sex, can’t appear “too masculine” and aren’t allowed to have opinions on “guy stuff” (oh hey, sports, again, at the top of a lengthy, preposterous list). Patently ridiculous, every one of these things is just the tip of this sensitive, Kanye West’s ego-sized glacier.

Why should someone be judged for wanting to push the boundaries of personal lifestyle a bit? They’re not entitled to keep the same old boring hair color or color preferences—they just have different preferences, and really, is there anything more American that standing up for your right to do, well, whatever you want (within the realm of legality)? This is America, guys: America and freedom and “don’t tread on me!”

We say we pride ourselves on “freedom,” but it often seems it could be more appropriately rendered “freedom as I see fit.” You’re free to do whatever you want, but don’t be weird about it. Or if you are, don’t talk about it.

All I ask is that you embrace the people expressing themselves differently. It could be for complex reasons. Maybe they’re “trying to find themselves” or something like that. It could also be that they just like whatever they’re doing, and there isn’t a single thing wrong with that.

Do that new-agey thing and open your mind, especially when it comes to stereotypes. Stereotypes may have their place (such as in advertising), but they should never be used to apply societal dos and don’ts.

So when running into the buzz-cut, tattooed vegan girl, the guy who loves reality TV and The Notebook, and the kids with blue, pink and purple hair over there, just be your usual, jovial self—unless you hate everything, in which case, I have just the sobbing-inducing rom-com to cheer you up.

They’re risk-takers in their own way, expressing their freedom in their own way, as each of us wants to do. Also, everyone loves to be loved. Love a little.