Why I’ve Decided on Independence

Well, hello, blog. Don’t worry, I haven’t totally forgotten you.

I have, however, been changing things for myself this semester. I’ve been doing something novel – focusing on me. Is it strange? Is it out of the ordinary? Not in the slightest, and yet it seems like so many women would rather focus on finding themselves a husband than perfecting who they see in the mirror.

In the time that has past since my last blog post, I have changed an amazing amount of things in my life. I’ve moved into a new apartment, and I now have 3 roommates. I’ve gone inactive from my sorority, and instead gotten a job. I have a couple offers on the horizon for other promising things, none of which I’ve decided whether or not I actually want to pursue, and I’ve gotten my grades up. I’ve decided to save up to see my grandmother in Poland again, after 7 years. All of which, I’ve managed to do with only a couple girlfriends by my side and without a man on my arm. Or in my bed.

I’m not disparaging the girls who have boyfriends. Or the girls who want boyfriends. Or the boys who want boyfriends, or the boys who want girlfriends, or the girls who have girlfriends… You see my point. That’s all fine and dandy, and I will happily attend your wedding should you decide that’s what suits you. But to the girls who are pining – who are longing for a companion or some sort, even if it’s just for one night, I urge you to take a  step back. Think about all the other things you could be focusing your energy on (ladies, relationships consume more energy than you can even imagine and the period before that is even worse, don’t try to deny it). Think about all the amazing things you could accomplish in the time you spend stalking your Starbucks barista on any and every form of social media. Even if you spend your time watching a movie instead, or eating a cake, or doing something that seems like it’s no better use of your time, you did it for yourself. You didn’t do it to impress another person, or to get the guy…or the ring in the little blue box.

Dye your hair. Pierce your nose. Take a class outside your interest. Instead of looking for someone to fall in love with you, fall in love with your life and the world around you. Take in every breath of the fall air and decide which smell is your favorite. Enjoy having your bed all to yourself, and spread out in it. You will have more than enough time in your life to have someone next to you.

Is it a cliche to choose to love yourself before loving someone else? Oh, absolutely. I don’t know if everyone actually follows the advice though. Or even thinks about it, for that matter. But I promise, in the last couple of weeks, the feeling of freedom and possibility in my life has been more intoxicating than my roommate’s punch is on friday nights. And that, my friends, is a good feeling indeed.

I’ll try to start blogging again, I promise. Until then, I recommend unfollowing anything “singlegirlprobs” or “tomyfuturehubby” or God know whats else on Twitter. You’re doing yourself a favor.

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Books to Read in Your 20’s

Have you seen these lists? A quick google search and you can find hundreds of these lists on a variety of websites. They usually include some assortment of genres, but nearly all include The Bell Jar, a book by a comedian (Bossypants by Tina Fey seems to be the current choice, though some still include works by Chelsea Handler), and On the Road. Although most of the books on these lists are undeniably great in their own way, though I can’t say I’ve read them all, I have a real problem with the idea that you need to read these books because you’re 20.

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Women are the Breadwinners? A Sensitive Subject for Fox News.

If you don’t hate Fox News yet, feel free to leave this blog at any time. Or welcome to the internet, since it must be your first time here.

According to recent research, 40% of households have a woman as the primary breadwinner of the household. According to Fox News, our children’s lives are in danger and our marriages are disintegrating due to that fact. Not to mention all the children who’s lives were ruined after Roe v Wade due to the fact that they were aborted. This is a CATASTROPHIC issue, people!

“Left? Right? I don’t see how you can argue this!”

Biologically men are more dominant? Animals have to a male dominant figure, with the women being simply complimentary? Okay, let’s not acknowledge the fact that many species of animals involve females leaders, not to mention the females that kill or eat the male after insemination. These men, however, sit in front of a camera and criticize those who do not share their identical belief set for a living, calling it “news”. Not exactly a challenging profession in any way, shape or form, especially considering the complete and utter lack of knowledge necessary, at least in the case of Fox News.

Yes, it must be so challenging for the children of women forced to work during tough economic times to overcome what their mother has done to them. How dare she leave the kitchen in order to make enough to put a shirt on her child’s back! How dare she think for herself, or be successful in any way, if it means the man might be considered less so! How dare she leave the home for any reason!

The fact that four men feel so entitled as to sit behind a camera and lament the fact that more women work now than they did in 1950 is precisely what is wrong with this country. Women making more money than men? Why, that’s clearly worse than homophobia, religious intolerance, our failing education system, hunger, poverty, school shootings, etc. Women having jobs, and working so that their families can eat, is clearly what is setting this country back from achieving it’s full potential.

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Fat Talk

I grew up in a house that never had a scale. It just wasn’t something my parents found necessary, and until I hit puberty, I never questioned it. I was an active child, I played outside when the weather allowed it and enjoyed dolls and movies when I had to be inside. After I hit puberty, my body changed. I didn’t really understand it, but I accepted it and went on with my life. All the girls in my class were starting to talk about bras and periods, so it was only natural I did too. It wasn’t until high school that I became very aware of my weight, my acne, and other “flaws”. Compared to many young girls, however, I was a late bloomer in this respect.

I still live my life without a scale. When I’m at the doctor’s office, I turn my head away and hum a tune to myself, just in case the nurse says the dreaded number out loud. My struggle with positive body image has been a rocky one, sure, but it is nothing compared to that of some of my peers. Horror stories of comments from parents, ballet instructors, teachers, friends have scarred the way some young women view themselves, even to the point that some women do very detrimental things to their health to attain that “ideal” look.

At what point to do we say, as women, that enough’s enough?

Mindy Kaling MAIN must include vitaminwater

Mindy Kaling has stated on multiple occassions that she’s a size 8, “usually”, and that she’s fine with her weight.

The media is to blame, at least partially, for the ideas planted in the minds of young girls from very, very young ages. And although strides have been taken to move in the right direction, decades of work in the wrong one cannot be undone with a few curvy actresses and a couple of campaigns to reassure women that “every size is beautiful”. Cellulite is a word that was coined in the 1920’s, however it wasn’t until it appeared in Vogue in the 1960’s that it became a concern for American women. Vogue has also recently pledged that it will not have girls under 16 or that “appear to have an eating disorder” featured in their magazines. This can be considered a step in the right direction, but we cannot let this be the only change that is made. In the last couple of years, curvy women have been gracing our TV screens more and more. Women like Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, and Christina Hendricks have proven that a woman of average weight can be funny and wonderful.

Recent studies have shown that girls start expressing concerns about their weight as early as 6, and that these concerns never truly subside. As a society, can we stand by that? A global survey shows that 2/3 of women feel as though the media has set unrealistic standards of beauty, and yet not much is being done to change the media. Researcher have found that “fat talk”, or the ways women express concern for their looks and their body to others, is becomingan expected norm among women.

“Over half of the females studied between ages eighteen and twenty-five would prefer to be run over by a truck than to be fat, and two-thirds would choose to be mean or stupid rather than fat.” (Gaesser, Glenn A., PhD. Big Fat Lies: The truth about your weight and your health. Gurze Books, 2001.)

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Stand against fat talk.

Having graduated high school in the last few years, I know that at least some schools are attempting to cover the topic of positive body image, however they are going at it in a way that is having little to no effect. Developmentally, teenagers often seek risks due to the combined effects of their belief that “nothing bad could happen to me” and their brains finding more pleasure in such risky activity. This has always been used to draw a conclusion about teen pregnancy, but could one also assume that their may be a connection between this thrill seeking, feelings of invincibility, and eating disorders? Schools throw out statistic about eating disorders and show movie clips about girls in rehabilitation warning against what happens if dieting goes too far, and yet no real changes in the statistics have been marked. From my own experience, I can say that girls usually think that they can binge and purge without ever having an eating disorder; that they can “control” it and that there’s no way they would get to the point that they lost control over what they were doing.

Eating disorders aren’t wild animals to be tamed. There is no switch to flip to just stop having an eating disorder. So our young girls are getting sicker, and our models are getting thinner. It can feel like there is no real end in sight to the demon that has crawled into the minds of our youth.

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Dove’s Real Beauty campaign has been considered a success.

Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign has been one of the more recognizable strides in attempting to break down the “thin ideal” by using curvier, more “real” women as their models. Yes, Dove has done some very intriguing and smart things with this campaign, however it’s not enough. One marketing campaign by a soap company is not enough break barriers and radically change the thoughts of billions of men and women (although I’ll admit that seeing the Real Beauty campaign next to the VS Love Your Body ad was startling and effective, in and of itself.) The positive reaction to the campaign is the most important aspect to take note of and should have already ignited a major change in marketing, and yet, very few changes have been noted just yet.

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Cover of Elle Canada.

Every change is a positive one, however, and it seems as though little by little, more people have started to take notice. Vogue Italia’s June 2011 cover feature three plus size models. It’s not been the last magazine  since to do so, yet a majority of print media embracing curvy models has been on European covers, not American ones. Why this is, I’m not sure. Are American women going to be less receptive to images showing a more “average” female figure? It doesn’t seem like that would be the case.

Are more “voluptuous” women on TV and in the media the key to ending what has become a plague in our nation? No, I don’t think so. It’s acted as an excellent stepping off point though, and gradually, we should hopefully see a shift in the attitudes of people worldwide in regards to size. Americans are dying to be thin in a world where millions are dying of starvation. It’s time we stop allowing this to be what is “normal” and start demanding a change for our friends, our sisters, our wives, and our daughters. No single number can define what is beautiful. Drill that into the minds of everyone around you, and maybe eventually we can see an end to “fat talk” and a rise to loving exactly who you are.

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