I am not the coolest girl in school. I do not fit the standard of perfection that every “cool” girl follows. My hair is not long and straight, it is short and naturally curly. I wear glasses, I do not wear makeup to school, and in gym, I roll up my trousers which I wear with sports socks, rather than wearing a skirt. But I would never sacrifice any of this to become a cool girl. As I stroll into school, wearing my black bomber jacket, I think of Andie, from Pretty in Pink. People want her to change, but she’s not going to.

My dilemma is that I don’t feel as though people who look like me are well-represented in the media. I would love to see a Turkish girl who was born in Britain, who wears glasses, and listens to Aaliyah on TV. But TV for teenagers is actually made by 30-year-olds imitating teenage life. On TV, “smart people” are ascribed a certain look that is funny to viewers—big glasses, messy hair. This really annoys me because I ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE THAT IN REAL LIFE. Thinking of how the only people on TV with glasses are represented as weirdly intelligent, or simply as a before picture of a person who now wears contacts, makes me feel depressed.

I guess those shows are what’s profitable, and I guess that’s what people making TV think about—money. If you have the money, you can buy what you want. You can do what you want. And all the people who don’t have money should go crawl up in the corner and die. That’s the extreme, but overall, isn’t that the message?

Although I can distinguish what’s real and what’s fake, sometimes, it feels like I hardly ever see a true representation of teenagers. How am I supposed to survive without anything that represents me well? Sometimes, when you’re a teenager with low self-confidence, who is as a minority, you just want one thing in your life to be true, for once. It makes me feel extremely emotional that this will probably never happen for people who look like me.

What I see constantly on TV and on the internet is misrepresentation. If someone has glasses they are seen as a loser or uncool. If someone is shy, they are an outcast or a weirdo. And when I realise that I possess these so-called negative traits, I feel lower than everyone else.

I’m finding it hard to accept myself at the moment. I guess it’s annoying when you’re treated badly at school and constantly annoyed at home. So it’s not like i’m perfect, or anything. Plus, what would these people know. They’ve probably never worn glasses in their lives. I guess they’ll never know how cool they can really be.

My mantra for dealing with this is: Do not believe what the TV says. Wearing glasses is solely down to having bad eyesight, you’re as cool as everyone else. Being shy is solely down to feeling uncomfortable, it will end once you are comfortable with your surroundings. I am still dealing with this, so “we’re all in this together,” as Troy Bolton sings. You’re as cool as anyone else. ♦