Monday, May 16, 2011

The Other Side of the Line

**If you're looking to see who won the prize package including an ARC of Possession, scroll to the post below this one. Also, be sure to come back next Wednesday to see what I'm giving away next week. Because I'm not done giving away good stuff. Not even a little bit. Bwahahaha!**

My daughter recently told me a story about a high-school-age girl who conducted an interesting social experiment. This girl wanted to know how differently she would be treated if people believed she was pregnant and attending high school.

This was an elaborate project, since this girl wasn’t really pregnant—nor did she want to be. She enlisted the help of a boy—who may, or may not, have been her actual boyfriend—and her parents, who helped her acquire a prosthetic belly that could be adjusted as her faux pregnancy progressed through the school year.

From what I understand, the big “reveal” happened as part of an assembly, in which the nine-month-size prosthetic was removed. Can you even imagine the reaction of the people in the crowd—kids, teachers, and administration—when they discovered the whole thing was a hoax? Those who had treated this girl differently would probably feel shame, or anger at being disillusioned, or embarrassed for their words or actions. And those who had been kind, who had treated this girl as a person, with respect and friendship might have felt pride for being proven as true friends.

When I put the colored highlights in my hair, it wasn’t intended as a social experiment. To be honest, it started out as a nice change. Something to break up the monotony of winter. A fun accessory. A trend. A style.

But it’s been interesting to see the reactions of some of the people around me. I live in a very conservative area, where for some people, different = bad. And even the slightest difference has a tendency to stand out.

Some people have surprised me with their loving acceptance, while others have disappointed me in ways I never expected. In my head, I just keep thinking, “Holy crap, it’s only hair, not horns.” But as I’ve learned recently, to some people, a difference so dramatic can be seen as much, much more than what it really is.

In this way, I find myself identifying with characters from some of my favorite young adult books. Consider Vi in Possession, Cassia in Matched, Katniss in The Hunger Games, Calla in Nightshade, and Amy in Across the Universe.

So here’s the question of the day: Are you brave enough to stand on the other side of a line drawn by society, even if it means accepting unfair judgments as a consequence?


Canda said...

That line for social acceptance shifts a lot, we get to experience it often in life. I think that's one of the little (huge) lessons though is to learn how to love, not who to love.

Nichole Giles said...

Canda, I love how you put that. And I think your totally right. We are learning HOW rather than WHO. Thanks.

CL Beck, author said...

Well, I have to say that I've loved the highlights in your hair, especially when it was purple and matched the purple coat you were wearing. :)

It's true that in order to protect ourselves with people we don't know, we need to make snap judgements. Otherwise we'd be constantly assaulted or robbed.

But ... it's only right to allow friends and acquaintances freedom of expression, and if they've tried something new, to rejoice in their newness. :)

Elana Johnson said...

Wow, I have chills. This is such a great post. I totally believe that we have to love and accept the people around us, whether we believe that they've done is right or wrong.

Shari said...

Jesus said love everyone, not just the people who are like us. It all falls into the don't judge thing.

Paul Greci said...

Great post!! I worked in alternative school settings for many years and I think acceptance and open-mindedness is key. Thanks!

Yamile said...

I love your hair, and I totally know what you mean! When some people found out who I voted for in the last presidential elections, they treated me like the devil.