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Girls deserve the same treatment

1st place $50

By Mirna Valdez, Gardena HS

Illustration by Larry Zamel, 17, Fairfax HS (Los Angeles)

The hardest part about being a girl is overcoming the expectations the world has and doesn’t have for you. Everywhere you turn everyone’s expecting something great from you. They expect a smart, beautiful young lady who can clean and cook. No one expects you to be a businesswoman or a sports player. In recent years all those expectations have been bending and stretching. Every day more and more women are challenging these expectations and are entering the business world, the working field and the sports arenas.

Still, many people believe we wake up thinking about what we’re going to cook for dinner or about the dirty dishes in the sink. We’re supposed to wake up and slap on a ton of make-up and dress revealingly just to get noticed. Although this sometimes might be true, it doesn’t apply to many of us. We like football or soccer, we care about the stock market, we burn our dinner, we don’t obsess about make-up, we like baggy pants. We enjoy doing things that don’t apply to the expectations society has laid down for us.

The truth is that we deserve the same kind of treatment as men do. We could be hard-working women if we want to, we could build up our body strength and bench press as much as we want to, we could be smart mathematicians or astronomers, we could be goofy. We love cars and know how to fix them. Because we look different doesn’t mean that we have to be different. There are many great women out there who have done great things and deserve recognition. In my opinion, labels were meant to be broken, and if we all stop expecting everyone to be a certain way, then we will finally see the beauty within each other.

I won’t stop playing ball with the guys
2nd place $30

By Melody Afrari, Birmingham HS

There could be thousands of reasons why being a female is a hard thing to be. And a lot of girls will probably say puberty or make-up. But for me it’s different. The hardest thing about being a female would be the way we have to look, especially as we are getting older and growing up.

I used to be a tomboy and a part of me still is. I love playing basketball and I love the fact that I can beat a lot of guys when I play with them. But the part that I don’t like is when my parents complain to me about the way I dress and talk and the people I play with. They think a "lady" shouldn’t be playing this kind of sport and worst of all she shouldn’t be playing it with guys.

So I changed the way I dressed and also started talking like a "lady," like they wanted, but the part I didn’t change was playing with guys. Now a lot of people ask me why I play with guys when there are a lot of great girls who can play basketball as well as those guys can. And they ask me why it is so important for me to play with guys. The answer that I give them all the time is that when I play with a guy one-on-one and I win, then the same guys who go around and tell everyone that girls can’t play or they are not built for playing, can’t say those words anymore. And they begin to think that they were wrong.

I think the hardest thing about being a female is that sometimes your parents expect you to act like a real "lady," while you just want to do it your way. I just want to continue being who I am and I don’t want anybody telling me that I shouldn’t be myself. But then again that’s life and you can’t always get what you want.

I felt pressure to grow up too soon
3rd Place $20

By Elizabeth Zambrano, Jordan HS

The hardest thing about being a female is made up of many factors and age groups. I recently turned 17 and I already have many regrets. I wish I was a kid again. I am not proud of saying that I have made mistakes that I greatly regret. I really wish that I would have thought my ideas through. Through my mistakes, my perspectives have changed. I am proud to say that now I have better communication with my parents.

Ever since elementary school I have been a smart kid. "Fitting in" with a crowd never seemed a problem and my old clothes never seemed to bother me. There was never peer pressure, always fun and no worries. However, it all changed in middle school. Appearances and clothing fads were everywhere. I was suddenly smacked with peer pressure. I wanted to be in with the crowd. With these ideas in mind, I began to shave my legs in the sixth grade, wax my eyebrows in the seventh and wear mascara and lip gloss and stay in shape in the eighth grade. All due to peer pressure. To fit in, to not be laughed at and to be popular.

During this time, I was going through a lot of mental and physical changes. My parents’ expectations of me were not being met and I was frequently getting grounded and disciplined. My excellent grades never changed, but my personality did. All of a sudden I had a boyfriend—which was not me at all. My parents found out—and well everyone knows the story. Wearing make-up and waxing my eyebrows did not come easy. I would constantly argue with my parents. So when my parents were told that I was still seeing this guy, I was disciplined. My parents obviously disapproved of me having a boyfriend at age 13. I disobeyed them and secretly met with him. By this time I had lost my parents’ trust and I was never allowed to go out with my friends.

Being a girl is not easy. There will always be the pressure of acting older when inside you’ve not yet matured. I am still with my middle school sweetheart. I love him deeply. I just wish I would have listened to my parents. I never knew I was hurting them. I regret disrespecting my parents.