Here come the girls of tomorrow!

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

Something to listen to while reading: “Here Come the Girls” by Ernie K

Tomorrowland!

On Sunday I went to Tomorrowland. For those not in the know — it’s a huge electronic dance music festival held in Boom, Belgium since 2005.

It was an amazing experience. There is so much effort put into the construction of the stages and theming of the entire space, it really is something special. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend checking out some pictures or this article on their website about how the mainstage this year.

However, I wasn’t just impressed by the stages.

Here come the girls!

I was amazed by the creativity and effort that so many people and, in particular, young women had put into their outfits.

Of course, there will always be those who think that women should be more “covered up” or that showing more than an ankle or a wrist is “inappropriate”. Someone even made the comment to me, “I would never let my girlfriend leave the house like that.” If you know me at all you will know what happened next — if you don’t, let’s just say he lit a fire under the angry feminist in me.

Because what I saw was young women:

  • Expressing their creativity
  • Enjoying their femininity
  • Embracing their bodies
  • Rejecting other people’s expectations
  • Living their best lives!

Honestly, it made me so happy to see all the glitter and embellishment and mesh and green hair and platform biker boots and everything in between.

Yeh I’m gonna complain about social media again…

With so much pressure from social media to fit a certain standard of beauty or to keep up with the latest fast fashion trends, it gave me hope to see so much individuality and free expression.

I’m a millennial heading into my 30s and I still sometimes struggle with body image and worrying about judgement. This, despite being fully aware of the powers of filters and editing, and despite social media only becoming so all-encompassing when I was well into my teens.

Although, obviously prior to this we still had fashion mags and countless tv programs like “The Biggest Loser” to make us feel terrible about ourselves and perpetuate unhealthy assumptions about beauty, weight and health.

I just can’t imagine what it is like to be part of the younger cohort of Gen Z (born 2000–2009) — the first group to grow up fully immersed in “the interwebs”.

I’m no expert, but the constant exposure to seemingly perfect bodies, fashion choices and lives just can’t be a good thing.

I have hope though!

This Sunday reminded me that there it’s not all “doom and gloom”. There are people who are making the conscious choice to be who they are and wear what they want and do things that bring them joy anyway.

Yay!

I also want to point out that not everything about social media is terrible.

One of the best things about the existence of these platforms is that it makes it easy access to new information in digestible formats. Another is that you can form connections with likeminded people all over the world.

Recent reports stated that nearly half of Gen Z use TikTok or Instagram as a “search engine” rather than Google. I think we can acknowledge the dangers of “fake news” while also recognising that it’s quite incredible how much free, crowd-sourced knowledge is accessible on these platforms.

And it’s not like mainstream news sources are immune to misinformation or hidden agendas…

We can also appreciate that there are accounts that play a role in destroying women’s self-image for profit, while being excited that there is a growing movement of people who are advocating for and providing support to women and other groups affected by all the sh*t people put online.

One of my favourite groups addressing body image (amongst other things) is iWeigh, led by Jameela Jamil. Their latest instagram post is a great example of healthily addressing body image without demanding that you must immediately love everything about yourself.

Women of Tomorrowland, thank you for being your glitter-covered, dancing, smiling selves and reminding an ‘aging millennial” that all is not lost.

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