I am a "little monster."
I was ecstatic when I found out that I was going to the Lady Gaga concert in Pittsburgh last September. No doubt it was one of the best I have ever been to.
As I was standing in the audience, overwhelmingly populated by men dressed like women and girls kissing each other (which I had no problem with), Lady Gaga proclaimed to her audience something along the lines of, "Tonight, all the freaks are here! Don't listen to anyone, my little monsters, and follow your dreams!"
That is great. Awesome and touching. But why not add, "And to all my fans who perhaps never felt like freaks, I know you have dreams, too!"
That wouldn't have been hard to throw in there, right?
The media overflow with messages centered on gay rights, both direct and subliminal. They are everywhere. On "Glee," on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," on Twitter and at Lady Gaga concerts. You name it. The message is out there; don't let people bully you for being different, don't let being different stand in your way, don't be afraid to have a different opinion.
OK, but what if you do not consider yourself "different" at all?
The number of people and celebrities who have made a stand for gay and equal rights is overwhelming. It is astonishing how many people have publicly come out of the closet in order to be a role model for young Americans who struggle with their sexual identities. And that's fine.
But I also find astonishing the low percentage of people in this nation who speak out for and support (and I hesitate to use this word) "normal" Americans.
As an everyday, nothing-out-of-the-ordinary woman, I am beginning to feel ignored.
I grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. I never questioned who I was as a person or what I stood for. I was an athlete in high school, ran with a good crowd and can honestly say I never felt "different" or like a "freak."
Still, when I entered my college years I had to face the same hardships every female does at some point in her life. I did not have the security of my high school years. I felt like I was starting over, and I wanted to be accepted and loved.
I believe every young person experiences these feelings in their lives, whether it is upon entering high school or college, or moving to a new town or new job.
When I looked (subconsciously) to the media or institutions around me for guidance or role models, the overwhelming majority of messages were crafted to help teens who were "different" get through their hard times. Seminars were held at my college, as I'm sure they are at others, to help "different" students learn how to fit in.
I did not attend. If they'd had a seminar entitled "Surviving College for the Average College Female," I would have been there! And no doubt would have learned a thing or two about self-esteem and motivation.
My role models, as a straight young woman living in America, were just that: models.
In no way did these "role models" teach me how to be a confident average woman, or how to take a stand for my beliefs, or how to prevent a man from bringing me down.
The media tend to target us "normal" females with the message that we must be hot to be accepted. Which means thin. And willing to show some skin.
Our lesbian counterparts, on the other hand, are getting told over and over that they should take no nonsense from bullies, that they should stand up for their beliefs, that they are worth more than a first impression.
Where was that message for me?
I made it through the toughest moments in my life with support from family and friends, and I came out of hardships knowing what I wanted in life, setting my standards high and becoming the confident woman I am today. Sadly, the same cannot be said for many females growing up in this country.
The focus these days is not on "average" young women. Our world is becoming a place where many young people are starting to feel like they have to be "different" to be heard, or to feel special.
Suzanne Schwerer is media relations coordinator for HighSchoolsSports.net , a branch of USA Today based in Bridgeville that covers high school sports across the nation ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). And by the way, Lady Gaga is performing tonight at Consol Energy Center.