Have you ever experienced a life changing event? Somethingthat encouraged or inspired you to change the way you live and think? Eventslike these are very common for those who venture on a psychological journey tofind their own individuality and beliefs.
Sometimes and for some people, thisis a life-long journey and for others, it simply takes just one ordeal to changeeverything. Not possible? I have just the stories to demonstrate how one eventcan trigger the events that can lead to a complete personality change. The Art of Getting Stared At, by LauraLangston, is a novel about a17-year-old girl, Sloane Kendrick, who, in the midst of making ascholarship-worthy video, figures out that she has Alopecia areata, anautoimmune, non-life-threatening disease that will most likely result in herlosing all her hair. As a person who always believed that she was more thanjust looks, her beliefs are tested right to the core while she runs againsttime to get the video application in before the deadline. Looking for Alibrandi, by Kate Woods, is a movie about an 18-year-old,rebellious girl, who struggles to face teenage problems, earn good marks topursue a post-secondary education, deal with family stress, and face herestranged dad who has returned after 18 years. This movie follows her journeythrough all these conflicts and shows us the inside perspective of an18-year-old teenage girl. Langston’s TheArt of Getting Stared At and Woods’s Lookingfor Alibrandi both contain the elements of a typical “find yourself” typeof story.
Langston and Woods both use their character’s self-discoveringjourneys to emphasize the importance of accepting who you are and how familyand friends can help in the face of a conflicting ordeal. Both, Langston’sThe Art of Getting Stared At and Woods’sLooking for Alibrand,i follow theconventions of a typical self-discovering journey. Self-discovering journeysoccur when the protagonist goes through a series of events and attempts todiscover themselves and their beliefs by themselves rather than following theopinion of others. For Sloane, getting alopecia was the event that triggeredeverything. Most self-discovering journeys revolve around an unconfidentprotagonist who, after her journey, gains more self-respect and confidence.
Acommon thing that is found in all these characters is that they think that allbad things only happen to them when in fact, everyone has their fair share ofstruggles. In The Art of Getting StaredAt, an example of this would be when Sloane was complaining about howunfair her life is and how she’s always done good things but doesn’t understandwhy in return, the only results she gets is negative. “You think you’ll have atotally fair life? That you’ll never be challenged? ..
. A life withoutchallenges doesn’t exist.” (Langston, Pg 88). This is the quote that Sloane’smom tells her when she’s going through her tantrum. At this point, Sloane isdiagnosed with alopecia and this acts like a cherry on a cake of problems.Sloane has just been through a tough breakup, has been occasionally gettingbullied from a group of kids at school, has been told that while her mothergoes to Sudan for 8 weeks, she will have to stay with her father andstep-mother who she despises, and now, she’s had a dermatologist tell her thatshe might lose all the hair on her body. This comes as a shock to her and shenow has more things to consider and worry about rather than just focusing onmaking a scholarship-worthy video.
This results in Sloane losing confidence inherself and this overshadows her creativity and imagination. She thinks thatnow that she’s losing hair, she’ll look ugly and society will judge her for howshe looks. Sloane faces a lot of conflicts throughout the book and each oneplays a significant role in shaping her lifestyle and how she lives and actsaround others. Like in every typical self-discovering plotline, Looking for Alibrandi, too, hascharacters who wish for freedom or for something better than what they have. “If I could be anything other than whatI am, I want it tomorrow. If I could be what my father wants me to be, maybe Icould stay for that too.
If I could be what you want me to be, I would want tostay. But I am what I am and all I want is freedom.” (Woods, Looking forAlibrandi). This quote is a note that Josie’s close friend gave to her beforehe killed himself the next day. He was the Vice President’s son and came from along line of politicians.
This pressured him to prove to his dad that he wasequally as smart and cunning as he expected of him. The pressure built up overthe years and at the young age of 17, he buckled under the pressure and endedup killing himself to get rid of the strict rules, the judging eyes, and tosimply achieve peace and freedom. This also affects Josie greatly as she lovedhim like family and had been friends since birth. This is a big turning pointfor her as she promises herself that she would not break under the pressure andthat she’d live life the way she wanted and the way she believed she should. Inevery coming-of-age story, the main characters are often pressured by friends,family, culture, religion, or society in general and the plotline of this movieis no different or less. Although, both characters face problems andconflicting problems that make them question everything they’ve ever believedin, they manage to learn and grow from that and come out even stronger thanbefore. In The Art of Getting Stared At, Sloanematures and learns to filter out the mean, hate messages from everyone else andfocuses only on herself. “Ella will freak.
Kim will probably disapprove. Dadwon’t say much. Mom will say it’s just hair. In the end, though, it’s up to meto figure out how to deal with things.” (Langston, Pg 339). This quote is fromthe ending of the book when Sloane realizes that after everything, what otherpeople think doesn’t matter. She shouldn’t care what her parents say, what hersister thinks, or how her friends and classmates react, the only opinion thatmatters the most should always be her own.
Or like her dad said, “The mostimportant relationship we’ll ever have is with ourselves.” (Pg 308). Afterfacing the harsh judgements and dealing with problem after problem, Sloanelearns to filter out the opinions of others and learns to deal with ordeals ather own pace and her own way, without the input of others. Correspondingly, justlike Sloane learned to live with her condition, Josie gains a new perspectiveand learns to look at the World through different lenses. “I remembered when wespoke about our emancipation. The horror is that he had to die to achieve his.
The beauty is that I’m living to achieve mine.” (Woods, Looking for Alibrandi).This quote is from the ending of the movie where after Josie graduates, shelooks back and reflects on the crazy year she’d had. She thinks back on whather and John talked about before he committed suicide and she notices that hehelped her mature in a way. She realizes that she wasn’t the only one withproblems and that she has privileges that she should be really grateful for.Josie also realizes the vast difference between her and John; he had to die toachieve peace and freedom while she just has to live her life to achieve hers.Throughout the book, just like Slone faced her problems and learned to overcomethem, Josie breaks out of her bounds and starts thinking for herself.
Both,Sloane and Josie mature and adapt a new mindset in order to start focusing onthe light in the World and not just the dark corners. The Art of Getting Stared At andLooking for Alibrandi both show howif we’re not confident in ourselves, the smallest events can lead to our mindsresorting to thinking negative things but these stories also demonstrate thatthe key to overcoming this can be found inside of us. The importance ofself-acceptance and self-love is a well emphasized theme throughout Langston’snovel.
Initially, Sloane hated herself for who she was and always downgradedherself. She always thought that she was less than anyone else or less worthy.When she was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease that results in completehair loss, Sloane lost even more confidence and faith in herself. She looked athair as if it was money and that if she didn’t have any, everyone would sneerand despise her. She constantly stressed about how she could hide her baldspots and stop people from seeing, all the while researching various ways tosomehow be a special case and have all her hair grow back. “As I say the words,that hard pit of despair lodged in my chest softens…Resistance and denial onlymake it worse.
” (Langston, 332). But as shown in the quote, she soon learnsthat resistance and denial only make things worse and that if she accepts herdisease and focuses on moving on from that, she’d get more positive results. Correspondingly,just like Sloane struggled with her appearance in the beginning of the book,Josie struggled with her culture and heritage. “I began to realize that itdidn’t matter what others thought about what was right and wrong. It onlymattered how I felt…I am me. But I’m human. Not a stone. I can be influenced bydifferent things.
” (Woods, Looking for Alibrandi). This is a quote from theending of the book where Josie realizes, just like Sloane did, that no one’sopinion, besides hers, herself, mattered. She realized that some people willalways judge and that you can’t always make everyone happy all the time. Therewill always be a group of people who will disapprove of your actions and that’sokay. In the movie, while Josie tried to make everyone happy, she changed alot. She tried changing and sculpting herself into the perfect person theywanted and in the process of doing so, she lost sight of the values and moralsthat mattered most to her. But, by the end of the movie, Josie gets help from alot of people who show her that it’s okay to be different and that everyone isunique but equally special, she goes back to her original self and finallyachieves the happiness and freedom she’s always craved.
Besides being consciousof their appearances, both characters also worry over identity and fitting in.In The Art of Getting Stared At, Langstonuses Sloane’s story as a way of showing us the mental conflicts the youth ofthis generation go through and how important our identity is. The followingquote shows us the conflicts inside Sloane’s mind: “Will I spend my time beingwho I am or pretending to be someone I’m not? But maybe it’s not an either-orscenario. Maybe I can do both.” (Langston, 333).
For Sloane, it’s always been achoice, a decision. She could either be smart or be pretty. Follow after hermother or her step-mother. Sloane’s mom is a Doctor while her stepmother is amakeup artist. Since birth, Sloane has been the type of girl who never caredabout her appearance, she always believed that, “I’m more than my looks, I havemore depth than that.” But now that she’s losing her hair, she’s suddenly moreconscious of her looks and this affects how she views herself. It tampers withher stability; mentally, emotionally, and physically. Inevitably, she has tomake a decision, who will she be? In the end, Sloane decides that she doesn’thave to specifically pick one.
She can still wear makeup but be equally assmart and have the same personality as the Sloane without anything. This makesa huge impact on her and is what leads to her finally accepting herself for whoshe is and how she looks. Similarly, Woods also uses her movie as a tool toemphasize and demonstrate the importance of equality and that everyone equallybelongs as the following quote represents:”It makes me feel I will never bea part of their society and I hate that because I’m just as smart as they are…Iwant to belong to her world. The world of sleek haircuts and upper-classprivileges. People who know famous people and lead educated lives. A worldwhere I can be accepted. Please, God, let me be accepted by someone.
” (Woods,Looking for Alibrandi). In the beginning of the movie, Josie hates her culture andher background. She was born an illegitimate and her mother is Spanish whileher father was Australian. Throughout her life, because of a judgmentalsociety, Josie always believed that she doesn’t belong anywhere. She yearns tobe like the snobby girls at school who have picture-perfect families and getanything they want, anytime they want. Josie comes from a normal family who’snot rich, wealthy, or famous and this ignites jealousy in her for any otherfamily with those traits. She believes that if she was from one culture or ifher family was wealthy, she would be accepted for who she was.
This createsmultiple conflicts throughout the movie and is also one of the reasons as towhy Josie is so insecure. Both characters struggle with accepting who they are,how they look, and where they’re from but in the end, they both also learn theimportance of self-identity and how the only opinion that matters is their own. Lastly,both these stories demonstrate the importance of family and how if we’rewilling to accept and let them in, they can be the support we need to changeourselves and our situations. In The Artof Getting Stared At, Sloane and her step-mother have a rocky relationshipbut since her real mom is in Sudan, the only person that she can turn to is herstep-mother. “My relationship with Kim feels different now. Since the grossreveal at the laughter flash mob when she stood by me and walked me out with myarm through hers, things are somehow easier between us…Kim felt like a real momto that day, supportive and strong.
” (Langston, 321). This quote is from ascene after the flash mob. A laughter flash mob is something Sloane decided shewould do and record so that she could put it into her video that would go in asthe application for a scholarship. This is by the end of the movie and at thispoint, Sloane has lost all the hair on her body and now wears a ball cap thathas a fake wig attached to it so that she can cover the fact that she’s bald.But in the midst of the mob, a jock manages to knock Sloane’s cap off byaccident and as a result, exposes her bald head to the entire crowd and everykid in her school as someone takes a video and posts it online. Sloane isrooted to the spot when this happens and looks down at the cap, with the hairattached to it, on the ground in horror. She refuses to look up at the faces ofthe most-likely horrified crowd.
Finally, after a minute or two that seem likea lifetime, Sloane’s stepmother steps up, encourages her to move, and takesSloane by the arm, and into the car. Sloane’s real mom was in Sudan at the timeof this event and so Sloane believed that no one would help her. Kim, Slone’sstepmother, stepped up and took the role of being her guardian quite seriouslyand maturely.
She acted like a real mother to Sloane and provided comfort andlove to her when she needed it most. She stood by her through everything andalways supported her. This unconditional love from someone who’s notblood-related made Sloane realize that people can still be family, even ifthey’re not directly related. Kim’s kind actions, words, and care taught Sloanethat when going through a hard time, family can act like a backbone to you andhelp you through everything while supporting you through thick and thin. WhileLangston focuses more on emphasizing how supportive family can be, in Looking for Alibrandi, Woodsdemonstrates how family can help you out of tough situations too. The followingquote represents this: “I remembered the same time, last year, whenMichael wasn’t in my life.
It was the scariest feeling in the world.”(Woods, Looking for Alibrandi). This quote is a line Josie says to herself asshe reflects back on her year.
When Josie’s mom was pregnant with her, thefather, Michael, left and never returned for 17 years. All through her life,Josie felt anger and hatred towards her father for “not having the guts to takecare of her mom and her”. They struggled for so many years to get by, and oncethey moved to Australia and finally got settled, Michael came back.
Initially,Josie hated Michael and didn’t want anything to do with him but after anincident where she required help and Michael was there, they started to build aspecial bond. Michael is a lawyer and helped Josie out of a situation after shehit a girl in the face with a textbook for insulting her mixed background.After that ordeal, they started to get closer and she started to turn to himwhenever she required some kind of assistance. He was there for her when sheneeded him and although it took a while for them to finally come to terms withthings and accept Michael, things worked out and by the end of the movie, theywere all one, happy family. Langston also demonstrates how behind every strongperson is a series of strong people. That doesn’t only apply to family or bloodrelations, but friends and relatives too as shown in the following quote: “You can handle this, Sloane. I knowyou can.
And you have good friends who will support you. Friends like Lexi andHarper and Chloe.” (Langston, Pg 92). This is a quote that Sloane’s mom tellsher over the phone from when she’s in Sudan and can’t physically help her.Sloane is afraid of telling her friends about her condition because she doesn’twant them to pity or be disgusted by her. She believes that if she ever toldthem, they would cut all their connections with her and she would be left allalone.
Because of this reason, she keeps all her problems and anxiety toherself and this affects her emotionally and mentally. But, with convincingfrom Kim and her mom, Sloane finally decides to tell her closest friend, Lexi,about her disease and how it affects her. Lexi took everything in stride,promised to not tell anyone, and also reassured Sloane that everything would beokay and that she would be there every step of the way. This takes a great dealof burden off of Sloane’s shoulders and her mental health starts improving fromthis point onward.
In a way, this is an example of how family helps because ifit were not for Sloane’s mother and step-mother, she would’ve never confided inher friends and would’ve kept everything locked up. While Sloane’s moms areportrayed as helpful and caring, Woods portrays Josie’s grandmother as a sourceof wisdom and shows how important talking to others and asking for help aboutyour problems can be. When Josie was struggling with her identity, this is whather grandmother told her: “Tell me, what comes first? What other people thinkof your family, or love?” (Woods, Looking for Alibrandi). This is what Josie’sgrandmother tells Josie when she’s complaining about people insulting andteasing her about her background. This is a topic that Josie is alreadysensitive about because of her mixed culture.
This movie is set in the past andso Australia is not as culturally diverse as it is today and so, Josie feelsuncomfortable when people judge her because of her background. At times in themovie, Josie wanted to give up her culture and her identity so that she canachieve freedom and be free of people’s judgments. Josie’s grandmother advisesher to not listen to what other people have to say about her and that itshouldn’t matter to her.
She asks her what matters most to her? Their opinionor her love for her family? Her grandmother tells her that if she loves herfamily and culture, she shouldn’t be ashamed of it, instead, she should beproud of it. Josie turns to her grandmother for help and assistance and hergrandmother does not disappoint. It is shown multiple times throughout the bookand the movie that family can provide guidance, comfort, and happiness in timesof difficulty. Inconclusion, although minor differences exist between The Art of Getting Stared At and Looking for Alibrandi, the similarities are more commonly found. Theone thing that is emphasized the most is: the dominant theme of self-love andacceptance and how a self-discovering journey can lead to a complete change inpersonality and character. This message can be broken down into 3 main topics:the only opinion that matters is your own, accepting who you are and what youbelieve in, and how everyone has flaws and conflicts throughout their lives butfamily and friends can be of great assistance. Both authors highlight theimportance of the 3 topics mentioned above and effectively demonstrate theeffects they can have on us; mentally, emotionally, and psychologically.