Today (or yesterday? I’ve lost track of time) I came across an article from the Toronto Star. For all my American followers, that’s like the New York Times of Canada. A young man at a local high school was recently suspended over a letter he wrote to his female classmates on his view of true beauty. There was a “kilt controversy” at his Catholic school earlier in the year, and his letter was originally intended to be a speech delivered on Valentine’s Day, supported by administration, because they believed it would encourage young women away from rolling their kilts to obscene heights.
Unfortunately, he was asked to make revisions, as part of the speech was deemed “judgemental” by faculty. He refused to make the alterations, and instead distributed his speech as a letter. He was suspended for “opposition to authority”. His letter, however, bears reprinting. I think we can all learn something from this 17-year-old boy’s words. The section in bold is what he was asked to revise:
PAUL GOMILLE’S LETTER TO YOUNG WOMEN
Could I please have your attention for a few moments? I guarantee you won’t regret listening to what I have to say. You definitely won’t regret hearing this in your life time, especially from a man of dignity. It’s an idea that I have held close to my heart even before the kilt controversy arose in the media. This message is not meant to address the kilt controversy directly by any means, but rather, this message is a general and all-encompassing statement. It is a message about the qualities that really matter in a woman, and what really makes a woman attractive. Although this speech has some relevance to the way women dress and present themselves nowadays, the message in this speech goes far beyond one’s preferences, or feelings of pressure, as it relates to the way they dress, and it goes far beyond any concept of modernity. It strikes at the very core of humanity itself, in an attempt to make a revelation of truth apparent to all of you, with awe inspiring certainty. If you read this, and receive anything less than a feeling of absolution from it, then I have committed a grave sin, a sin against myself and a sin against all of you.
The people this message concerns are the young women of this school, and of the world. In particular, it concerns the silent ones, the intelligent ones, the ones that don’t talk about people behind their backs, the ones that guys don’t flock to in droves, the ones that don’t dress in revealing clothing, the ones who would love to be in love, and the ones that are continually disappointed in their appearance because the only thing they have to compare themselves to are the women that have been put on pedestals by our society. This message also concerns those of you who may consider yourselves the so called “opposite” to the demographic I just described. The ones who do dress in revealing clothing, and the ones who try to fit in with the crowd.
You don’t need to dress or act a certain way to fit in, to feel attractive, or to BE attractive. You’re all far more attractive than you realize. All of you. But that’s not to say that you should all dress in revealing clothing. No, not at all. Sure, a girl who dresses that way might turn a few heads, and get some compliments. But real attractiveness doesn’t come from wearing the latest fashion, and it doesn’t come from being scantily clad in public, or putting on make-up, or having a pretty face, or a nice body. No. Real attractiveness comes from having a certain dignity. It comes from having class. It comes from being true to yourself, being yourself, and being comfortable in your own skin. This message is for all young women within the sound of my voice and beyond. You’re all beautiful. You all have inner beauty AND outer beauty.
With all the censorship talk in the media of late, I admire anyone with the courage to stand up for what they believe in. Some things in life are worth saying, even at the risk of your own well-being. Staying silent has rarely served me, and has probably dug me into a worse hole than opening up to the things inside. Whether they be words of love, words of concern, or just secrets that feel too shameful to admit, letting them out into the world may be painful, but I believe that honesty will serve me better in the end.
And how amazing is that letter? Words from “a man of dignity” urging women to strive for “real attractiveness . . . from having a certain dignity”. Dignity comes from being able to hold your head up high and speak your mind without shame or fear. Life is too short to regret what you wish you’d said or done. There isn’t always as much time as you think there is. Stand up, speak out, and Be Anything But Quiet!