Perfect Blue
Kona Macphee
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Commentary: To a young daughter

I hate the way children attempt to force conformity on each other - that prescriptive herd mentality laying down what you should wear, what you should own, what you should like, what you should think. (I don't believe this tendency necessarily goes away in adulthood; we simply become marginally more judicious or self-controlled in our expression of it, often, ironically, in the service of seeming like that great job-interview staple, a "team player".)

Girls enforce conformity in a particularly noxious way, by pointedly excluding those who refuse, or simply fail, to assume the camouflage of being just like everybody else. I was bullied on and off at school; I wish I could attribute this to having been brave enough to be myself, but I fear I was simply inadequately skilled at hiding it.

My own experiences have left me over-sensitive, so it's particularly difficult for me to give calm and judicious advice when any of the girls in our household are experiencing "peer-group issues". My honest prescription - "just be yourself and you'll be happier in the long run" - must sound pretty hollow to a six-year-old with nobody to play with at break-time. E.E. Cummings' oft-quoted and spot-on advice to young people is probably no more encouraging:

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
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