As a 24 year-old with an extremely open mind to culture, I see the lifestyles that make up America differently than that of a 64 year-old, and moreover, other states and of course, other countries. I was thinking long and hard about making some plans to head West for my college Spring Break; California, Nevada, Southwest to Arizona or New Mexico. I want to see Silicone Valley, waste hard-earned money at Blackjack in Vegas, and party endlessly at Lake Havasu City. I always want to learn more everywhere else, but what do I know about my own country? As I sat on TripAdvisor, two glasses of wine deep, I decided to make a list of all the things I see America to be.
We often stereotype or make general assumptions about cultures across the globe with little to no information to back up those speculations other than what is portrayed in movies and in the news. However, I know America, or at least the majority of what goes on here; what is socially acceptable, popular, and the freedoms which allow its citizens to do as they please. I watch television, read newspapers and magazines, dress scantily clad when I feel it is appropriate and speak my mind when something is bothering me. I enjoy sex-scenes in movies, coming and going on a whim, writing freely about love, hate; writing freely about anything. I live American culture every day. I wanted to investigate that less-thought about matter in my brain- my own culture which entitles me to enjoy such things.
I quickly realized upon my so-called deep thinking process that the most prominent staple in our culture is sex and money. American youth culture for myself is inherently related to those subsets of image and beauty. With no apologies on my part, I love it and I buy it every day. Sex is in our classrooms, our workplace, our downtime and our nights out. Turn your head in a lecture hall of 300 students and you are bound to find one young girl who is reapplying her lipgloss and patting her face with unnecessary amounts of bronzer. Try to get on a treadmill at 5 p.m. at the gym and it is impossible. Sex is there, too. The effort we put into our appearance is the product of sex that has been sold to us over time, with billions of dollars spent to feed us the expectations of beauty.
I know that I am far from perfect, but seeing someone fake the American idea of a perfect face with Photoshop and three tons of makeup is an awesome thing. There is nothing like glaring through the glossy pages of magazines at the rail-thin models selling me absolutely nothing. I cannot afford a button on that Versace blouse, but I will continue to buy Vogue to see more. Hell, even if I could afford anything advertised so sexually invigorating in Vanity Fair, I would use that money for three separate plane tickets to places I have never been. Not to mention, I cannot be that thin. I love the carbohydrates and calories of my father’s homemade Chicken Cacciatore too much.
In the morning when I am light-years away from anything Karl Lagerfeld would allow on his runway, I can read the New York Times bash politicians because they are entitled to that right as an American. At the end of the day when my makeup is off and my heels are back in the closet, I can cozy up to Time Magazine and read about the places in the world that I know do not allow the freedoms I previously enjoyed just hours prior, some as simple as hanging out with my friends until 2 a.m. Maybe our culture is dominated with sex, but we are given the most fantastic right to choose what to do with it. With all the freedoms of this country, I know not to allow myself to be brainwashed by one simple idea.