I’m grateful to have been born in 1989. With fond memories of chatting with my friends on the home phone and feeling mind-blown when my parents bought a fax machine; my appreciation for the convenience of today’s technology runs deep.

My childhood’s email equivalent consisted of my friends and I passing around an A4 hardback notebook: the Friendship Book and writing personal letters to each other. Most of these letters were about boys – our ‘crushes’. If any of these were to be shared publicly now, or back then; I’d be mortified.

Thankfully, we enjoyed the freedom of having these letters disposed of. There were no smartphones to keep digital references and no chat groups where they could’ve been shared.

Although our generation’s childhood was spared from social media and its misgivings, the media itself was brutal and its toxicity has seeped through into today’s society.

Before the internet became a household essential, our options for entertainment were restricted. We watched whatever was on TV and picked up whatever magazine was at the stand. Which was a blessing in a way, given that it was impossible to waste time scrolling for more content. But it was also a huge curse, given that most options available were jam-packed with venomous society-shaping content.

It’s 2004 and reality TV shows are in full swing. Most of these shows are filled with skeletor-thin women with flawlessly made-up faces. Or if they weren’t, they’re shown being shamed into becoming society’s standard of beauty through grueling body transformations.

Magazines were also waving ultra-thin-body expectations in consumers' faces; even those targeted at teens were filled with dieting and beauty tips.

I was only ten years old when I first tried to lose weight – and didn’t stop obsessing over it until I was 26. The idea that I’d be happier if I was slim like those smiling faces shown in reality shows and magazines was successfully and subliminally implanted in me long term.

I hold myself responsible for my own decisions; but as a child, how was I to know any better? What were we thinking to normalize and prioritize beauty tips over educational content, weight loss over informative health advice, and shame over inclusion and acceptance?

The music charts were filled with dancefloor anthems during the early 2000’s, which came with production-intensive video clips that seemed equally as important as the songs themselves.

A good number of these are extremely high-quality masterpieces that I still enjoy dearly.

But a lot had an underlying tone of ‘be the hottest girl in the club/ walking down the street/ breathing air, then you’ll be worthy of attention’. Whether it was in the lyrics or shown in video clips, that was a common moral to the story; usually sung by men, and directed at women.

Before these songs were even released, I recall the teenage magazines I used to flip through which contained an abundance of articles with the theme of ‘how to impress guys’. It seemed that this was important – why else were boys the dominant topic when my friends and I would write to each other?

This constant reinforcement across all forms of media reiterates the value in which has been placed in men, and how it’s a women's role to please them.

To this day, I (usually) make sure to step outside the house looking tidy – out of self-respect. However, is this intrinsically out of fear that I won’t be worth the attention or respect of others otherwise? What were we thinking to encourage the value of appearance over personality, bodies over hearts, and his opinion over hers?

These paragraphs have only very lightly scratched the surface of the delayed outrage which has slowly surfaced over the years.

Media and entertainment shape our values, goals, and perception, no matter how immune we believe we are. The early 2000’s created a societal dynamic that was outdated for its time.

Although I’m grateful that social media wasn’t part of my childhood routine, let’s not forget that the alternative media was in no way a utopic comparison.