We appear to live in an age of unprecedented personal freedom. We can express who we are, whatever our identity.
Not so long ago, gay men risked being targeted and attacked for sport by hateful thugs on a Saturday night. Now, society openly celebrates gay lifestyles, alternate sexuality, and gender fluidity. People can feel safe about their identities and accepted for their life choices. The individual reigns supreme.
So, why do I feel so trapped, judged and rejected?
I’m not gay. I’m not gender fluid. I’m just someone who refuses to put my bananas in a plastic bag. And that makes me a dangerous weirdo.
Sixty seconds to sum up why consumers are passively accepting plastic en masse. #PlasticFreeProduce
Please also listen to my new radio interview, here’s the link https://www.facebook.com/anita.the.writer/photos/a.921844511223333.1073741828.921498611257923/1688998901174553/?type=3&theater
Posted by Anita Horan on Friday, November 10, 2017
I’m convinced there’s a dark twist to our modern age of individuality and we’re not as free as we pretend to be. I feel big business and the media promote what forms of behaviour are ‘socially acceptable’ while discouraging individuality that threatens the system. No, I’m not talking about terrorism, I mean something worse. I’m talking about rejecting the mad rush to wrap all our food and drink in toxic, single-use plastic.
“I’m convinced there’s a dark twist to our modern age of individuality and we’re not as free as we pretend to be.”
I guarantee you, the toughest rebel or the fringiest, fringe dweller are ultimately conformists when it comes to this subject. We’re all equal in the eyes of the big supermarkets and the media they pay their advertising dollars to. We’re all expected to bag our bananas, choke our apples, and suffocate our sweet potatoes. To challenge this is to be rejected. Plastic and conformity have completely permeated our so called ‘free’ society.
This has been a shock to me. I grew up in a rigid religion that did not allow for free thought or personal choice. When I lost my faith in that belief system, I was rejected by friends and family. I was an outcast, but I thought I’d be accepted by society, outside of my previously safe bubble.
“We’re all expected to bag our bananas, choke our apples, and suffocate our sweet potatoes.”
I was wrong. It turned out that society only practices ‘selective tolerance’. Choosing my own beliefs and being myself would not be tolerated if it questioned the status quo. Hell, I was even ostracised by the mothers at my daughter’s school for smiling and wanting to be their friend. This issue of social rejection and conformity is the core thread of my new eBook, Plastic Girl. Two painful passages from it follows.
A new mum moved into the school area. She had not yet received the anti-Anita memo and she invited all the school parents and their children to a barbecue. I distinctly remember one of the bitchiest women was sitting at an outdoor table setting. I was alone, and no one would talk to me. The ostracism had been going on for two years by this point and I recall thinking, this is ridiculous. We’re all adults. I went over and sat down with a friendly smile and attempted to make conversation. After about sixty seconds, she got up, walked ten metres away, and just stood there on her own. She didn’t want to be seen with me and being on her own was preferable to being in my company.
My activism work was forcing me to face the issue of conformity. It was bubbling to the surface, begging to be noticed. Clearly it was at the core of all the problems in my life. It was the overarching theme from my own traumatic past, my current social exclusion, and the reason people put bananas in bags. Everyone in my church was committed to the rules. Disobey the rules and you’re out. It’s difficult for me to criticise that attitude as it pretty much applies to almost all groups. Isn’t that what the human species does? We separate ourselves into groups and then fight with each other.
My book covers a lot of ground in such a short read – only two hours in one sitting. You can binge it!
If you’re familiar with me from social media, you’ll find out a lot more. You’ll discover my super hero origin story. Being rejected for being different gave me an unexpected super power. As a self-confessed nobody, sitting at my keyboard, I became Wonder Woman in a dressing gown. No matter what I did or said about plastic, I could not be rejected. I was already rejected!
I was free to point out that germ phobia has been cleverly sold to us. Ironically, the fear of our food being contaminated, has caused our food to become contaminated with the very substance we are using to protect it. Plastic is now in the food chain.
In Plastic Girl, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at my three-year war with the supermarkets and societal expectations, fighting the media’s resistance to feature the issue of plastic wrapped food. You’ll also share in my euphoria and gut-wrenching fear when I finally received the opportunity to share this issue on Australian television. Everything that lead up to my appearance on the documentary series, War On Waste, was pretty intense.
Do bananas and apples really need to be wrapped in plastic? #PlasticFreeProduce #WarOnWasteAU
Posted by ABC TV on Sunday, August 5, 2018
If we believe the only sane way to buy our food is if it’s wrapped in plastic, we’ve been led down the path to planetary destruction. Superstition has collectively overridden our sensibility, leading us to make emotive and often illogical decisions. Our natural capacity to ‘do the right thing’ has been incapacitated by our compulsion to clamber up the social ladder.
Loosening our grip on the need for social acceptance and changing our ingrained beliefs is really hard. I should know. My fundamentalist background meant that changing felt like death. My beliefs were my psycho-emotional reality, and they fought back…hard. My mind and body were assaulted from the pressure. Plastic Girl describes what that looked like in my life.
But, I did change. We can all change and choose better ways for ourselves and our planet. We might even find some like-minded people along the way.
So, if you want to know what bagged bananas, an afterlife, a mental breakdown, social rejection, plastic pollution, individuality, and a television appearance have in common, let me take you on a hell of a ride as I answer all in my eBook, Plastic Girl.
You can buy my new eBook Plastic Girl at the links below
A couple of dear readers have already left some kind reviews!
Refreshing honesty and vulnerability, about the perils of living in a conformist society that pretends to be liberal has never been so much fun!