Posts by AlanCrawfordUK

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    I like the idea of home schooling, but I would worry about kids missing out on socialising with other children / a wide, diverse range of people. There are private schools that are very progressive (like Steiner) but a) I don't really agree with private schools on principle and b) I couldn't afford it even if I did!

    I'm still not following your logic here I'm afriad (though this may be my fault).

    Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason, the direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension.

    Therefore, if you accept this definition of Intuition, it doesn't make much sense to say that the way to tell intuition from prejudice is to


    understand how and why you're formulating opinions or impressions.

    . By nature of what intuition means, it is impossible to understand how we form an intuitive impression via logic, reason or inference.

    I must stress again, I'm not being funny here, I value my own intuition in every day life, but have always wanted to try and reconcile it with a desire to avoid prejudice. Your explanation, as I understand it, doesn't seem to make sense to me... :/

    OK, playing devil's advocate here (I do genuinely believe in, and value intuition) but how do those of you referring to it know that it is not in fact unconscious or pre-cognitive prejudice? For example, if a 'black youth' is walking towards you on the pavement and you get a bad feeling and decide to cross over is that intuition or prejudice?

    I'm genuinely interested in how you asnwer this because I've always been facinated by the difference between intuition and prejudice and how to know the difference.

    It shouldn't there are successful vegan athletes and bodybuilders, so shouldn't be a problem. If you have a very active lifestyle or workout, you'll need slightly higher levels of protein than the average person. You can get these from Beans, Brown Rice, Tofu, Soya products, Tempeh, Quinoa etc.

    I think most people let their egos get in the way. Once you can shed that ego-driven approach to others, it becomes easier to understand them. I think actually that's the main thing.... you can't understand others until you can be entirely honest in your observations of your own character - which most people are unwilling to do.

    Very well said.

    I agree that, as with so many debates, our differences are coming down to semantics.


    The "pre-cognitive" reaction can only occur if you've allowed prejudice to form in the first instance. The prejudice doesn't need rejecting if it isn't there. Furthermore, experience (when absorbed without bullshit) can lead to prejudice being shed very easily. You seem to suggest an active process - almost a program of effort - but in my experience all you need is an open mind, and the subconscious takes care of the hard work for you.

    I agree with this. Perhaps I envisage it as "a program of effort" because a) I possibly had more prejudices that you to begin with (though I'd dispute that I 'allowed' them, most I acquired as a young child when I didn't know better) and/or b) My counselling training (particularly the personal awareness / personal development aspect), and my Buddhist practice for that matter, paints the picture of letting go of prejudices and the like as being a volitional and deliberate journey. That said, I cannot dispute that an open mind, plus experience, is sufficient to dissolve prejudice. That's true, it's just a shame that many people lack the open mind. Without that, any amount of experience in the world will just be distorted to fit ones individual world view and prejudices or denied to awareness (ignored / filtered out).

    "You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection" (Buddha)

    Dude, I'm willing to bet I have a lot more experience with people than you do. ;)

    haha, you probably do, I was merely pointing out that working with people, and to some degree trying to understand how they feel and perceive the world is a big part of my job (and my last job before this) so I'm not just plucking ideas out of the air, I'm basing them on my own experience of people. It's not a competition ;)

    I have to beg to differ. It's honestly not that hard. Unless I really am a highly evolved being :S I certainly don't need an external "value system" or even a "degree of determination" to avoid making superficial first impressions.

    Perhaps you actually are!

    Can you give a specific example of what you mean?.

    OK, some examples:

    * Due to my working class upbringing in which you settle your own disputes rather than bring in "the bizzies", observing my dad experience racism at the hands of the police and my own (albeit minor) experience of rudeness and arrogance from police officers, I have developed a prejudice against the Police. Not to mention the stories I am told by clients in this job and in my last (as a Probation Officer), and the news reports of Police brutality and racism. Whilst this is based on valid experinces and some factual information that supports it, I know that to generalise these experience towards all Police Officers is clearly illogical and unhelpful. However, my emotional response towards the Police remains quite negative. It's like a pre-cognitive emotional response. I still feel that response about the Police, but through mindfulness, I notice the assumption / prejudice, recognise it for what it is and make the choice to put it to one side. You could replace the word Police with Tory and the same thing applies. If somebody tells me they are Tory or support Tory policy, something in me tenses up and that pre-cognitive emotional reponse occurs before my mind even has time to forumulate a response. Again, I notice it, put it asside and replace it with something more rational.

    * In terms of the conversations at work and at home, that's a little bit different but still relevent. If somebody makes a sexist joke, points out someone on the tele that is very overweight in a mocking way etc. the easy thing for me would be to play along, or at least keep quiet. It's amazing how many peoples' conversation repetroires centre around judging and poking fun at others. To risk alienation and make a point of not playing along and/or challening this kind of thing is not effortless, in my view.


    Of course, "prejudice" can also relate to unreasonable opinions that we form based on stereotypes. But even then, such preconceptions can be valuable and useful safety mechanisms - so long as we're willing to see beyond them and not let them define our views of others.

    This is exactly what I feel I have been trying to say. I have prejudices (I believe we all do) but I am willing and able to see beyond them.


    The issue is more about whether we consciously take ownership of those prejudices and preconceptions, or whether we allow them to lead us.

    Exactly, except that we seem to disagree on where the consciously taking hold comes in. I believe that the prejudice operates pre-cognitively and that, with awareness / mindfulness, you can consciously choose to see it for what it is and disgregard it and, over time and effort, through self-awareness, education / experience and persistently rejecting the prejudice, change the lense through which you see the world so that the same prejudice no longer arises. You seem to be suggesting that you can prevent prejudice from arising in the first place :


    the degree to which an individual forms immediate impressions will depend on their personality and also the degree to which they consciously attempt to moderate the process.

    . Whilst I don't dispute that this is technically possible, I beleive it to be quite exceptional. I'm the least judgemental person in my circle of family, friends and work colleagues, yet I, at this stage in my development, cannot help certain stubborn prejudices arising (though I can discard them as soon as they arise).

    [/QUOTE]Keep working at it. ;)[/QUOTE]

    I will!

    I don't need to "try". It comes as easily to me as breathing :S

    Well, then you're clearly a much more evolved being than I am. My experience, with myself and with people (I work as a Counsellor, so have plenty of the latter) demonstrates that we all judge. That we look at the world through a lense (schema system, or 'frame of reference' depending on who you read) that has been coloured by our experiences, upbringing and the values and norms of the society in which we live. On top of that we are surrounded by incentives to judge every day (we live in a very judgmental society, just open a tabloid newspaper :rolleyes:).

    I think it takes a considerable degree of self-awareness work to unearth the ways we judge people and experiences, coupled with a value system which promotes an accepting, non-judgemental attitude and a degree of determination to resist the tide and stop judging others. This is what I mean when I say that I try. I on a daily basis have to chose to abstain from conversations in work that are blatantly judgemental (yes, even in a Counselling service!), when it would be easier to "fit in" and go with the flow. Similarly at home when my wife says "Look at him/her!" and points at somebody on the Tele, I have to chose to negotiate my way out of that situation without offending my wife and getting in to an argument!

    I don't know you, so am in no position to say whether or not you do in fact effortlessly perceive people and experiences directly without judgement. However, my experience tells me that it doesn't come easily without trying. Perhpaps you had a very progressive upbringing which instilled you with this way of being. Perhaps you have spent your life increasing your self awareness and working on yourself so that you are able to percieve directly without judgement (one of the tell-tale signs of enlightenment / awakening by the way!).

    However, I think most people do have prejudices and preconceptions which colour the way in which they perceive and interpret the world around them. I would rather have somebody admit to these prejudices and preconceptions (because with awareness you can be mindful not to act on them and overtime eradicate them all together) than somebody who claims to see all people equally (in terms of race, think of the ridiculous "I'm colour-blind!" argument) and continue unwittingly to pre-judge and discriminate (I must stress, I am in no way suggesting that this applies to you).

    I do believe that overtime, with education and awareness, prejudices can be overcome. It's just that in my experience it isn't as easy as you suggest!

    Incorrect. There is a baseline of such behaviour, but the degree to which an individual forms immediate impressions will depend on their personality and also the degree to which they consciously attempt to moderate the process.

    I'd be interested to see what evidence you have seen that suggests that it is even possible to consciously moderate the process. I do not disagree that an individual that is open minded and who strives not to judge people may be quite successful in putting asside pre-conceptions and taking a person on face value. In fact, I try very hard to do this myself. However, letting go of the first impression isn't the same as preventing it from being formed in the first place. To my mind, the first impression if formed at a sub-conscious level, meaning we may be at least partly unaware that we are making a judgement, and most likely quite unaware of the reasons for the judgement. We just get a "gut feeling" about somebody without knowing why.

    Also incorrect. It can be based on intuitive interpretations of such telling things as facial expressions, body language, posture, attitude and bearing - none of which are "superficial". Personally, I find that I tend to formulate strong intuitive impressions based on such subconscious signalling, and 99 times out of 100, my first impressions is totally correct.

    Fair enough, I agree with you that facial expression, body langauge, posture etc. are significant in how we form these first impressions, however, I would argue that these are fairly superficial, in that they are external, as defined as "Of, affecting, or being on or near the surface".

    There is an interesting article here:…0405/the-first-impression about the process of forming first impressions.

    Don't forget that it has been established that we form our first impression of somebody when we meet them for the first time in that first 2-3 seconds. This impression can only be based on superficial things (clothing, hairstyle, accent - if you had a chance to even talk in those 2-3 seconds!). Worse, this first impression is quite stubborn and enduring. It takes something significant to break it (the burden of proof seems to lie with the person to prove that they aren't as we first perceived).

    None of this is "fair", but is it true!

    Did you drink enough fluids? A hangover can be partly due to dehydration, as can headaches generally. The first thing I do when I get a headache (or hangover) is to drink lots and lots (and then lots more) of water.
    Also, not having enough sleep can make you feel like you have a hangover too.

    I've also had mornings when I've woken up with the feeling of having had loads to drink the night before, but know I haven't and have been at home eating food I'm used to, but feel rubbish the next day, and it's usually down to lack of sleep (this could be a build up over several days/nights) and being dehydrated.

    I agree with this. To my understanding, a hangover is basically just dehydration and lack of sleep combined (and in the more severe cases, perhaps a bit of alcohol poisoning thrown in for good measure!). Lack of fluids and sleep could easily cause hangover like symptoms.

    Hi conflicted87, how are you getting on?

    I've been practicing Buddhism "solo" for 2 years now, so if you have any questions about Buddhist teachings or practice, I'll try and help or will find out for you! I need to find a centre myself, have tried a couple, but not found one that is right for me yet or fits in with my busy schedule :cry: (working full time, college one evening per week, run a meditation group another night that is not affiliated to any particular spiritual tradition, and then play with my band at the weekend, oh yeah and trying to fit time in there somewhere for seeing my wife, exercise and meditation!).

    There have been wide judgements passed on both sides of this debate; the mistake being made here, and I'm not immune to making it myself either, is taking our own rather narrow experiences, and over-generalising them. This is the cognitive error at the basis of stereotyping / prejudice. Take the example of racism, "the person who stole my wallet last week as black. I've just seen a black woman on TV shouting aggressively.... Therefore, all black people must be untrustworthy and aggressive". :rolleyes:. The problem is, generalising is a natural human process. It's what stops us being overwhelmed by the amount of stimulus our senses receive every second and allows us to make sense of the world. We just have to apply a bit of intelligence to its operation sometimes.

    Your use of the terms "loosely" and "broadly" demonstrate that you clearly can't fit people into simple boxes like that. Someone who takes in one area of their life may be giving in another area of their life. Someone who is having a bad few months might take for a while, then return to a pattern of giving.

    This is clearly correct.
    On a side point: I would like to differentiate between giving your time and support in a way that is quite selfless (though as someone said, it can be argued that no act is completely altruistic) from the desire to "fix" or "rescue" somebody. I think the latter is quite a negative impulsive which is more about your issues about needing to make something right than what that person really needs.

    Symptoms of the latter include giving unsolicited advice (in the arrogant assumption that your own narrow experiences are applicable to this person's experience and frame of reference) and taking control or taking charge of that person's problem without being asked to do so.

    This disempowers somebody rather than respecting their autonomy and empowering them to find their own solutions, if they even need solutions! Everyone is on their own journey and it may be, at this point, that they are ok where they are, or need to be where they are.

    Most people just want to be heard and listened to (actually listening as opposed to rehearsing what you are going to say next, analysing whether you agree with what is being said or worse wondering what you are going to have for your tea!), and if they want your advice they will tend to ask for it. If it's a practical matter, by all means offer practical support (a lift to work, lending them your power tool, giving them something to eat), but in emotional matters certainly, actually listening and being there for somebody is much more powerful than trying to "fix" them.

    No matter how giving or caring you see yourself as, unless you take care of yourself, you will be of little use to others. Think about the safety instructions on a plane - in case of an emergency, put your own mask on before seeing to children and others around you. Self-care isn't selfish, its about looking after your health (mind body spirit) and being assertive in making sure that your needs are met. You then have the energy and the motivation to help others, and do so effectively.

    Self-care doesn't mean you stop helping others either though. There is no reason that good self-care and compassion for others cannot coincide peacefully. In fact, I believe they enhance each other.

    Just my humble view of course!

    They probably see it as an insult because it goes against how they brought you up, so it's a rejection of their values. It sounds silly but its almost as if you've changed your religion or something, the reaction is similar. Plus, as Noctula said, it makes them think about things they'd rather not think about!

    OK, do me! haha

    My weight has been up and down my whole life. I though I was very fat as a child (and was bullied for it, amongst other things) but, like others have said, when I look back at the pictures I was only chubby really.

    I had / have an unhealthy relationship with food which I am slowly trying to address. As a child I couldn't just eat one or two biscuits, I would eat the whole packet. :o My parents responded to this by hiding any junk food (chocolate and biscuits mostly) from me. This only made things worse however because when they were out I would search the house for their hiding place and then stuff my face, eating even more than I would have in the first place, then hiding my wrappers down the side of my bed (where they were always found eventually and I was told off, leading to feeling of guilt).

    All of this led to some really bad body issues - I remember being still of primary school age and standing, naked in front of the mirror in the upstairs bathroom, crying with disgust at my fat, disgusting body. :cry:

    I had a growth spurt which leaned me out for a few years before I started gaining weight again in high school. Eventually a cruel comment from a girl I had a major crush on led me home, upset to my dad who took me to the gym that night.

    That led to a new obsession. The weight fell off me because I had never done any real exercise before, and as I saw my body change before my eyes I caught the bug big time. I was at the gym nearly every night, weight training, boxing and running.
    By 14 I had sculpted the type of physique that boys much older than me were jealous of. Rippling muscles and the lot. I was quite proud of it to the point of being quite vain and posey to be honest. I felt justified after all of those years of hating my body. It was rewarded too because for the first time girls were interested in me, even some of the popular ones at school (though in retrospect I can imagine that it was at least as much my new confidence as my new body, confidence is very sexy).

    This wasn't really a healthy phase either though, because I was still obsessed with food, only this time it was counting calories and grams of protein. I used to walk around with sachets of protein powder and dry chicken breasts in my school blazer. Despite my confidence, I wasn't really happy with my body at this time either. I would show it off in tight t-shirts, but I could always pick fault. That left deltoid is a bit flat... my right pic is bit imbalanced. That kind of stuff. I also always wanted to be bigger, more muscular and leaner, to the point where my girlfriend at the time told me she thought I had body dysmorphia.

    When I got in to a serious relationship, I kind of let it go, eating pizza and ice cream watching films and I was soon chubby again and then overweight. At university I fluctuated between obesity and gym obsession, gaining and losing the same three stone or so (though at one point I got hugely muscly with 19 inch biceps - crazy).

    More recently ( a few years ago) I lost about 2 1/2 stone through weight watchers but dropped out because I found the point counting so depressing and it really tapped in to and encouraged food obsession. The weight gradually crept back on. Then last summer I started running and got to the point where I was doing a five mile run 5 days per week. Again the weight fell off, but when I missed a week or two I sacked it all in and went back to unhealthy habits.

    I went vegetarian 5 months ago for ethical reasons, and I actually gained weight because I upped my cheese intake and developed a penchant for Chicago Town take away style cheese and tomato pizzas. :o
    I've just gone Vegan (day 4), again for ethical reasons with a secondary hope that it will also help me lose weight ( I can no longer eat ice cream, milk chocolate, cheese and lots of other unhealthy things!)

    I currently have at least four (possibly five) stone to lose and just want to be in good shape.

    Current diet, though bare in mind this is new, is something like:

    Breakfast: Hot water and lemon, glass of fruit smoothie PLUS two pieces of wholemeal granary bread with hummus or tofu spread OR Granola with Soya Milk
    Mid Morning snack: 10-15 almonds and a piece of fruit
    Lunch: Some kind of stir fry with various vegetables, lentils, beands (Kidney Beans, Chickpeas etc) and either rice (currently white basmati, I know I should switch to brown...) or Quinoa.
    Mid Afternoon snack: Same as mid-morning, or perhaps a Nakd Raw Bar.
    Evening Meal: Similar to lunch, though with different vegetables and a larger portion or often a Vegetable Curry. It's hard to do the "divide your plate in to four thing", because most of the food I eat is all mixed together :S

    I'm also trying to drink 1.5 litres of water per day, plus a few green or herbal teas.

    I'm not currently writing down what I'm eating, or counting calories (or anything else) because I wanted to try to develop a more healthy (less obsessive / addictive) relationship with food. Do you agree with this?

    I'm not doing any exercise at the moment. I am a member of a gym but haven't been for about 6 months. When I was going, I was doing a 10 minute warm up on the crosstrainer, 30 minutes of weight training (quick circuit training style for a different muscle group each time) followed by 30 minutes on the treadmill doing intervals (I have to build up to 30, usually start with 20).

    I also had a phase of doing yoga in the morning for a few months before I meditate. I enjoyed this so might try to get back in to this too. I like how it supports both my health aspirations and my spiritual practice.

    I've also got self-hypnosis CDs by Paul McKenna and one by Maris Peer to help you lose weight and improve your relationship with food, planing on starting those again soon too. They are supposed to work very well but I've never stuck with them for long enough.

    My main downfalls in the past have been
    a) addictive / compulsive binge eating for comfort or out of bordedom
    b) Setting goals that are too high / unrealistic and setting myself up to fail
    c)Being too restrictive in my diet
    d)Having an all or nothing mentality so that if I have a bad day, I sack the whole thing in and eat terribly for 3 months!

    Help! :panic:

    I don't think I'll ever go that far! (the poo!). Though I did have a glass of hot water and lemon first thing this morning!

    Will keep up with the flaxseeds then :)

    Big Test tonight - in the house alone because the wife is at college. These are the nights I normally pig out / break any diet I'm on etc. There are left over Christmas chocolates in the vicinity so if I get through day 4 and am still a) Vegan and b) eating healthily I may have cracked it... for now!

    Day 3, still going well, though I made my first boo boo. Was offered a cup of coffee (don't drink it very often but was half asleep on my first day back at work so thought I could do with the caffeine!). The person just made me my coffee with milk without asking and I'd drank half of it before I realised (with some horror initially!) that I'd drank diary. Once I got over the horror, I convinced myself it was an understandable one-off slip up because I was tired and still getting used to what I do and don't eat and drink. Not to be stressed over, right? :o

    Ate vegan (and healthy) the whole day apart from that.

    Sometimes I think people consider it a personal insult that you have made the choice to no longer eat meat - as if it challenges them directly. :)

    I know, this reaction is almost universal. I think most people would not deliberately or consciously do something to harm an animal. Meat eaters get around this by remaining "unconscious" of what they are doing, i.e. they don't think about where their food comes from, don't read anything about how animals are kept and slaughtered etc. because if they acknowledge the information, they will feel guilty. And their guilt will, at the very least spoil their enjoyment of their food or at the most force them to act and make changes that they perceive as very difficult and inconvenient. Just by our very presence as vegetarians and vegans we point out that there is something not quite right about how their steak got to the table. They naturally become defensive and usually attack us!

    Yes you are right, it is impossible to live a harm free life. Nor is it practical (or even possible?) for most people to do without everything that they "do not need".

    Ethical purity is, I would argue, impossible. So as individuals all we can do is draw our own particular "line in the sand" as you say. I think the harm and suffering caused by the meat, diary and egg industries are quite abhorent and entirely unnecessary. I have lost very little by no longer supporting those industries with my custom, especially when you weigh this against the suffering and death of sentient beings. I, like yourself and most people, would lose more by giving up my car, and, in addition, I think the animal suffering caused by driving a car is much less direct and much less severe than that caused by the meat/diary/egg industries. I therefore weigh up ethical purity against convenience and, yes, draw my line. Somebody commented, rather wittily I thought, on another thread in this forum (I can't remember who off the top of my head) that the only way to live a completely harm free life would be to commit suicide, ideally by offering yourself up as prey to a polar bear :D I would like to give up driving eventually due to the environmental impact, but don't feel ready to do so yet. One step at a time!

    We each draw our line where we feel comfortable I suppose! :)

    Most families, if they love you, will come round given some time (and patience on your part). I've just read an excellent book called Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World. I know you're vegetarian rather than vegan, but there is a great section in that book specifically about dealing with family members / friends / partners and their reactions. Well worth a read :)

    Try to be patient and explain to them your reasons for going vegetarian / vegan. Try to avoid arguments while you are eating (worst possible time - meat eaters get particularly defensive when they have a plate of meat in front of them) and don't judge or criticise them (as horrific as you think it is to chomp on bits of flesh and vein! :vomit:... and they call us weird :rolleyes:), it's much better to be a shining example of a happy, healthy, confident vegetarian / vegan enjoying eating a variety of healthy veggie / vegan foods :thumbup: Your example may make them reflect on their own eating habits or at the very least becoming more understanding and accepting of your new lifestyle. If they want a serious conversation (not over food!) about your vegetarianism / veganism, in which they are not taking the mick but actually want to hear what you have to say and understand you, give them the facts, explain why you made the decision.

    Good luck!

    I don't buy into fluffy, humano-centric ideas of violence inherently "wrong" or "evil". They're just false moral constructs. But it's certainly best avoided, it should only be a last resort, and it's seldom actually necessary. Most situations that are resolved with violence can be resolve peacefully. Most violence is an expression of anger, frustration or other negative emotions. Don't seek violence out, but don't be afraid to use it when it's the most appropriate and healthy response.

    Good point. I don't subscribe to a universal "right" and "wrong" and certainly not to "good" or "evil". Perhaps I over-stated my case (its easy to get carried away on these forum thingys isn't it? :whistle:). I think what I actually believe is that violence is "unskillful" (the word Buddhists use to describe behaviour that is unwise / innappropriate / laden with negative consequences), and to be honest rather unpleasant (in the vast majority of circumstances)... and that in a cilivilsed society we should limit its use, both as individuals and as nations, to where we feel it is absolutely necessary (in my view, when we are at risk of serious harm or death).

    I've just stumbled on The Coven in Wigan (too far for me:() which does veggie, vegan, raw and coeliac. I very, very, very much would like to try it out. If anyone lives near there, please test it for me? :D

    The Coven, Wigan is incredible. We go every Saturday (even though we live nearly half an hour away). It's a lovely friendly place, a great cozy atmosphere, an amazing selection of herbal and green teas, they have an extensive menu including a vegan only menu on request with lots of choice. It's more a cafe than a restaurant, open in the day and then on a Thursday evening with more of a gourmet, restaurant menu. You can also book for a birthday or any kind of do really.

    Highly recommended :D

    neonpixie - I'm typing this in work and am not able to see your video here. Will watch it later and reply again.

    elfqueenofrohan - I understand what you are saying... and it's difficult in a situation like school when you don't have much choice about who you associate with. Obviously, as an adult you have no reason to maintain contact with anybody that treats you that way and can simply minimise or eliminate your contact with the people involved (as you would with anybody who is extremely negative or abusive in any way). If it is in a work situation (where you also have a limited degree of choice about who you spend time with, though ultimately you could find another job if that is feasible) I'd consider going down the formal route of taking out a grievance / complaint. Bullying is unacceptable for any reason and should be challenged whereever it arises.

    We are all different and react differently to different kinds of behaviour - I'ts not my place to say what you or anyone in that position should have done / should do because I'm not you and not seeing the world through your eyes, with your experiences.

    I think part of the reason I feel so strongly about anti-conformity (to the mainstream), is the type of experience that you describe. I, and probably many people on this forum, have had similar experiences at school.

    Look at the Campaign for Sophie about the girl who was beaten to death because she looked different (goth). Look at the gay teenagers that commit suicide because of bullying in school and online... it's so sad, and makes me so angry :curse:

    The mentality that you aren't "OK" because you didn't buy your clothes from New Look / Top Shop / Burtons (*insert generic high street shop that happens to be fashionable and probably uses child labour abroad with poverty wages and exploitative employment and environmental practices!*) or wear your hair in whatever particularly style is currently "acceptable"... it really infuriates me. It's the same small minded mentality that causes racism and homophobia.

    Was 'conforming' wrong? I can't possibly say for the reasons I gave above. In an ideal world, I wouldn't advocate conforming because it gives the bullies what they want rather than standing up for your right to self-express and dress how they hell you like. But in the real world? You were a young (at that age probably insecure, weren't we all?) child trying to get through school in one piece. I completely understand anyone in that position doing what they can to make that time a little easier and feel a little safer.

    What did conformity cost you? Perhaps the strength of your convictions? Perhaps that little spark of individuality and creativity that wanted to be "wild/exciting" was sqaushed, discouraged and/or took until much later to flower, if at all? (a lot of people squashed in that way will never take the risk again and might even become the ones that laugh and skit at others that are 'different' in some way).
    What would continuing to dress in that way cost you? I don't know, perhaps a lot (loss of confidence, making fewer friends etc, perhaps even depression and/or anxiety) perhaps not, everybody is different.

    For me, bullying about being different at school (and beyond) made me more determined not to "conform", but then I was in the position of having parents that encouraged that way of thinking. I went through so many "phases" growing up trying to find out who I was, who I wanted to be, how I wanted to express and present myself, my mum in particular was great and just accepted each stage as who I felt I was at that time. Your self-concept (how you view yourself) is always changing, so how you express that self-concept is going to change. Because my dad is black (my mum is white) I was also brought up with a strong anti-racism (and anti prejudice / discrimination in general) world view and I made the connection that it tended to be the same small minded, ignorant people throwing stones at the door and shouting racist abuse about my dad that would laugh, skit and bully people who didn't look the same as everybody else because of their clothing / hair style. I suppose from there I saw it a bit like by refusing to give in to the pressure to conform I was taking a stand against that mentality. Some people might think that's silly, but that's how I've always felt.

    I enjoy expressing myself in my appearance in a way that is not mainstream (in my case these days that means wearing piercings, long hair -and now dreadlocks- and refusing to follow mainstream fashions or wear brand name clothing, shopping where possible from ethical, vegan, eco brands online) as a way of demonstrating my inner values outwardly as well as demonstrating that I don't agree with or accept many of the values and practices of mainstream culture. A kind of "not in my name" response to capitalism, materialism, the work-consume-work-consume hamster wheel, poverty, racism, war, conformity, disconnection from nature, destruction of the environment, petty hatred and division, the unneccessary suffering and death of animals for food etc. etc.

    Again people might say that's silly, or ask, how does having piercings / dreadlocks and wearing non-branded clothing give that message to joe bloggs on the street? Well it doesn't, it's more for me really, just an outward expression of how I try live my life (Be the Change you wish to see in the world). I know some people might dress "alternative" for very different reasons (because it looks cool! :rolleyes: ) but I think, below the surface, there is always a sense of alienation or difference from the mainstream that motivates that kind of decision.