Removing The Face Mask: Why We Must Stop Hiding Our True Selves

Society, Anything Articles

This is an article that I wrote earlier in the year, explaining about why we must be true to ourselves and not hide our personalities.

We all have our own little routines every morning. Getting up, picking out clothes to wear, checking out how we look in the mirror. We are always looking at ourselves in the mirror, staring at our reflection. But what do we really see?

One night, after having a shower and changing into pajamas, I looked at my own reflection in the mirror. My hair was tied back in a ponytail, my skin was still glistening with moisturizer, my eyes had a hint of mascara leftover from earlier in the day. I stared at my reflection like I was looking at myself for the very first time.

How often do we truly look at ourselves in the mirror? Remove the cosmetics and make-up that we apply to our faces and look at ourselves as natural human beings? Is there even such a thing as a natural human being in today’s society?

Society has its take on the way that people should look. As life has changed and the world has continued to evolve, people feel the pressure to fit into society. Young people, in particular, are constantly examining what they can do with themselves to be popular and accepted. In a way, it’s as if two beings are living inside of us; the outside, the side that is expected by society. And the inside, the one being hidden for fear of rejection.

In the last entry of her diary dated 1st August 1944, Anne Frank wrote about the inner struggles that she faced with herself. She wrote about how she had always felt split in half. She hid her true self on the inside, covering it up with being boisterous and cheeky on the outside – the way others had expected her to be. As she said herself ‘no one knows Anne’s better side’ because she kept it hidden by a mask.

Masks have become common today; we all have to wear them to protect ourselves from the coronavirus. But we’re also wearing another type of mask, protecting our personalities. With these masks, we’re shielding ourselves from the scrutiny and disdain of others, pretending that we’re fine. In the opening scene of the controversial movie Joker, we see Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) sitting in front of a mirror, putting on clown make-up and turning his mouth up in a smile. As he is doing this, a tear rolls down his cheek which symbolizes his inner turmoil. It could be argued that we are all clowns – we use make-up to paint our faces to cover up how we feel on the inside. We feel this pressure to wear these masks to be accepted in society.

It is very easy to be fooled by the mask. It can be so convincing that many times, we do not see what’s hidden underneath until it is too late. It’s especially dangerous for young people – they feel forced to hide their problems, not say anything until eventually, they turn to self-harm and suicide.

In 2018, there were 730 noted suicides in people under the age of 25 in the United Kingdom. Imagine that; 730 suicides in one year. Every person who chooses to end their life is somebody’s child, sibling, grandchild, friend. There are people who love them without the mask, but many find it difficult to see that. They find it difficult because they feel that they cannot love the most important person in their lives – themselves.

Peer pressure and images on social media influence people to change their personalities, hide their true selves to be accepted. Anybody who is considered ‘different’ from how society wants them to be, is labeled as an outcast. That is extremely damaging to any individual.

There is a song called ‘Outside Looking In’ by Jordan Pruitt that perfectly highlights the struggles with acceptance and the pressure to be perfect. Those who are not considered perfect are cast aside by society. There is a moment in the music video where young people are sitting down to have their school photos taken. Their smiles – their masks – hide their inner turmoil.

We all wear masks. Not many of us realize it, but we subconsciously try to cover our true personalities to fit in. We try to blend in, become ‘part of the crowd.’ But are we truly happy with that? As a person who once tried to change herself to be accepted, I can say that you will never find true happiness if you cover your inner self with a mask.

Do not hide your true self. Do not cover yourself up with a mask. If you change yourself to fit into society, you are eventually going to want your own self back sooner or later. It is important that we love ourselves for who we are. Ditch the mask, let your true personality shine out.

Be true, be happy, be you.

Childhood Classics: Should They Be Changed or Left Alone?

Anything Articles

After learning about the intended release of a shocking horror film, I bring my thoughts about childhood classic stories and characters and whether they should be changed or stay the way they were initially created.

I thought I was dreaming or maybe a bit hungover when I woke up at 5am and saw the news. I had dozed off and awoke to find my fairy lights still on, my moon lamp dimming, and my sea projector sending blue waves onto the ceiling. I needed to switch everything off before going back to sleep.

Out of pure habit, I decided to check TikTok, and as I scrolled through the videos, a post from ITV caught my attention. It was talking about an upcoming movie and called it ‘Winnie-the-Pooh, the horror movie.’

Naturally, I was very confused. We all know who Winnie-the-Pooh is; the ‘bear with very little brain’ who lives in the Hundred Acre Wood and adores honey. Now, all of a sudden, he was in a horror movie? I thought it was just a silly joke. Or maybe my mind was a bit fuzzy. But when I looked it up properly, I realized that I was very wrong.

The famous bear with very little brain, Winnie-the-Pooh

As it turned out, there was indeed a horror due for release called Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey. Apparently, the story goes like this: Christopher Robin leaves his childhood friends behind as he grows up and leaves for college, something that we all do in life. But this doesn’t sit well for those he leaves behind. Feeling abandoned, and without food, Pooh and Piglet revert to their animal ways; they become completely feral and unhinged, killing their friends in order to survive. When Christopher Robin does eventually return with his new wife, the unhinged Pooh and Piglet go on a murderous rampage, targeting several college girls who are staying in a rural cabin. (That old cliche is never going to die.)

The promotional poster for the new Winnie-the-Pooh horror movie.

To put it very simply, I was shocked. This is Winnie-the-Pooh – the bear with very little brain who lives in the 100 Acre Wood, plays with Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, Owl, Kanga and Roo! His best friend is Christopher Robin and he absolutely adores honey! I think I just outed myself as somebody who loves Winnie-the-Pooh, didn’t I?

It’s just… Winnie-the-Pooh has been a part of my life ever since I was a baby. When I was very little, my bedroom had Winnie-the-Pooh wall stickers on the wall. I had an electronic Winnie-the-Pooh bear that came with its own honey pot that he would ‘eat’ from. I had the Pooh’s Friendly Places and Honeypot playsets as toys; they were my favorite things to play with. One of my favorite Disney movies is Pooh’s Grand Adventures – The Search for Christopher Robin. In my favorite video game series Kingdom Hearts, one of the worlds that you could visit was the 100 Acre Wood where you could interact with all of the different characters. So… yes, I certainly love Winnie-the-Pooh and I am currently finding it very hard to see him reimagined as a feral bloody horror killer.

I’ve looked at a few times where classics were reimagined by authors and creators. There have been several parodies and mock-ups of different stories released over the last few years. There was a time when I visited the Chapters bookstore in Dublin, to enjoy the chance of buying books at a low price. Well, that time I was browsing the shelves and found a variety of classic parodies.

A sample of ‘reimagined’ classics on sale.

I saw these books for sale and I was disgusted.

Disgusted.

It wasn’t just the style of the covers that horrified me, it was the fact that all of the stories had been modified and made more sexual. Basically, classics such as Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby had been turned into porn.

Many authors were trying to cash in on what I consider the black mark in the world of literacy, that God-awful Fifty Shades series. The ‘love story’ of a controlling stalker and a co-dependent gold digger inspired a lot of authors to write their own little stories that were similar in taste. That aspect, I can understand, but did they have to touch classic stories like these?

Seriously?

Authors such as Charlotte Bronte and Oscar Wilde are long since gone, so technically, nothing can be done to prevent people re-writing their stories. I can understand in a way; sometimes, I see a story that there are elements that I don’t like and I feel I could change them. But… I feel there is a limit. I wouldn’t go so far as to change the main character into a bloody killer or shape the story to revolve around sex. That’s taking a little too far, for me anyway.

The problem is that stories such as Winnie-the-Pooh now reside in the public domain, they’re no longer protected by copyright law. In the United States, copyright law is usually limited to the life of the creator, plus 70 years after their death. Or in more simple terms, copyright of created content expires 70 years after the creator’s death. And since A.A. Milne has been dead since 1956…. you get the idea.

Now that the copyright law has expired on Winnie-the-Pooh, the public can do whatever they want with the character. But I refuse to see Winnie-the-Pooh as anything other than the bear-with-very-little-brain. This is one horror movie that I will definitely not be watching!

What It Means To Write

Life Experiences, stories
Diaries and Journals that were kept between 2009 and 2016 (Credit: Eidhne Gallagher)

Everybody receives their calling in life. It doesn’t matter if they receive their calling when their eight months or eighteen years old, one day, they will receive their calling of what to do with their life. For myself, it was a little bit different.

I received my calling when I was seven, but I didn’t realise it at the time. It started when I found an old accounts book, and started writing a random story. To this day, I still don’t know what inspired the story: it was a fantasy of a young girl sent on a quest to save her hypnotized friends from an evil wizard. Maybe it was because I was a big Harry Potter fan at the time, I don’t know.

On my thirteenth birthday, I began a diary. At the time, I was copying the famous diarist, Anne Frank. My initial plan was to start writing at thirteen, finish at fifteen and see how I’d changed. Instead, I continued my diary when I was sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, all the way through into my twenties. My diary became my escape through the ups and downs of school, university and family. It also helped me look back on happy and sad memories throughout my life.

Even back then, I didn’t just confine myself to my diary. Throughout my teenage years, I wrote my own poems (abysmal ones, I will admit) and started stories. Started stories – I never managed to finish one! As I grew older, the urge to actually finish a story became stronger. It was only then, that I realised what my true calling really was: to be a writer.

Paper Has More Patience Than People.

Anne Frank, 20 June 1942

To write means to express yourself. I found it a lot easier to express how I felt to a piece of paper, rather than a real life person. I found myself being able to let out my emotions on paper, channel my real life problems and experiences and turn them into stories and poems. Particularly during the coronavirus lockdowns, I had time to fill notebook after notebook with my ideas.

Now, I have actually finished not one but two story drafts. I’m not saying that they are ready for publication yet, but one day I hope they will.

What it means to write to me, means being able to change emotions into stories that people will enjoy. Maybe one day, I’ll see my name on the cover of a book on sale in the shops.