Body Image

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body image – “a subjective picture of one’s own physical appearance established both by self-observation and by noting the reactions of others “

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I didn’t start paying too much attention to the size of my body until high school. I used to be really skinny.  I had a small chest, small butt, small everything. Never really thought much of it. That wasn’t until people started making comments about my body and other women’s bodies. Boys would thirst over the girls who had curvy bodies. The girls with big breasts or a big butt, or both. Then boys would see me. They’d say exactly what was on their mind. They’d make comments about how small my breasts were. They’d say my breasts were too far apart. They’d tell my I had no butt.  In their eyes, I paled in comparison to girls with curvy bodies. And honestly, it hurt.

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Fast forward to around 2015. My body started developing more. I started to have a curvy body. Men and women would compliment me. I felt better about my body because other people liked my body, which wasn’t healthy at all. About a year later, I put on more weight and my stomach was no longer flat. People would comment on my weight and tell me I was getting fat. I was ashamed to wear crop tops or to even take pictures from an “unflattering” angle. I remember my ex saying “Lose that.”, as he pointed down at my stomach. I hated my body.

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I decided that it was time for me to become “fit”. I wasn’t choosing that for myself, I chose it for others. Everyday I stressed on what I ate. I exercised whenever I could. Exercising is never a bad thing but I was doing it for all of the wrong reasons. Everyday I’d take a look in the mirror at my stomach to see if it had gotten smaller. I’d check out the size of other girls stomachs. I’d look at Instagram models and roll my eyes at how “fit” their bodies were.

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I see so much body shaming on social media and television. We’ve seen Rihanna being shamed for gaining weight. We’ve seen women like Kim K. and Beyonce being shamed for gaining weight while pregnant. We’ve seen Gabourey Sidibe and Ashley Graham being shamed for simply being comfortable with their bodies. We’ve even seen Serena Williams be shamed for being too muscular. It’s all bullshit. We’re so brainwashed by the images we see everyday that we think it’s unnatural for a woman to have anything but an hourglass figure. Then when a woman does have what some may view as the “perfect’ body, she’s fake. No one’s ever satisfied, and that’s why it’s important to not give a damn how anyone else feels about your body. No one deserves to power to tell us what we should look like. Learning to love yourself is a process, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey.

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Slutwalk Detroit 2017

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Last Saturday, I attended a Slutwalk protest in Detroit. I had been anticipating it for weeks. I was so excited to see all the signs and the outfits. But the Slutwalk is so much more than signs and outfits. It’s not just about women walking around half naked. It’s about taking a stand against rape culture. It’s about speaking out against victim blaming, slut shaming, transphobia, sexism, homophobia, racism; I can go on and on. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just about women being proud to be sluts. It does play a part in it ,though. And I’m not mad about that.

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(Sadly I only got videos of other people. I was too awkward to ask people for pictures.)

Detroit’s Slutwalk took place in Palmer Park. One of the bordering streets of Palmer Park, is Woodward Avenue and West Seven Mile. Woodward Avenue is a notable street for sex workers. Many transgender sex workers have lost their lives on Woodward Avenue and West Seven Mile, making it an important street to have the protest at. I remember one of the speakers asking everyone to have a moment of silence to think about all of the sex workers who had lost their lives on the street we were standing on. That was the first time I had heard about that. I remember riding past those women as a child. I never thought about how dangerous it was for them. I never realized how many had actually died on that street.

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Counselors had took the time out to support the cause and to also provide support to people who could be triggered by the stories of the speakers. I will be honest and say that a lot of the stories about rape were triggering for me. I tried to hold it in and distract myself, but my friend encouraged me to talk to one of the counselors. The counselor understood that I was angry. She told me that attending the protest was a step forward to me, and I agree that it was.

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Screaming “Sexual assault is not our fault!” with the other protesters was empowering for me. We also screamed, “Who’s streets? Our streets!” and it made me feel so happy. It felt better to know that I wasn’t alone. There was no judgement. No one was there to spread violence and hate. The protest was filled with love and support. I hope to see more of it in the future.

 

Practicing self care

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I’ve been hearing about self-care for the longest. I have plenty of posts about self care saved on my Pinterest but I don’t think I’ve ever took the time out to practice it. I’ve been using self care to cope with my anxiety and depression, and the results have been great. Of course anxiety and depression is not conquered over night but it’s a good start.

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I practiced on my makeup then I went outside and took pictures of myself. Instead of waiting to join a yoga class, I just looked up videos on YouTube. I worked on my essays and stories. I listened to relaxing music while I took long walks around my downtown area. I took a break from social media and read a great novel instead. I gave myself words of encouragement to counteract my self-doubt. I did guided meditations and felt refreshed afterwards. I’ve also been binge watching a hilarious show.

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In the process of spending time alone, I learned more about myself. I never realized how crafty I was. I learned that I should try to understand things before I assume. I figured out that I can block out negativity by keeping busy. Keeping busy by doing the things I love makes it even better.

 

How RuPaul’s Drag Race inspired me

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Before I started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race I thought that drag was simply just a man dressed as a woman. But after watching it, I learned that drag was so much more than that. It isn’t about being a man or a woman, being straight or gay: It’s about expressing yourself through creativity. It’s also about having confidence in yourself.

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This show pushed my love for makeup, fashion, beauty — even further. I have loved fashion since I was a child. I got my fashion inspirations from television and teen magazines. I started doing my makeup back in tenth grade, or at least attempting. I remember taking the pointy part of a pen top and dipping it in a mascara bottle to use as eyeliner.  The show taught me that makeup and fashion is art. There is no certain way to create art. There is no such thing as perfect makeup or the perfect look. Your face is a canvas. No. Your body is a canvas.

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The show has also helped with my confidence. I enjoy seeing people not being afraid to be who they are, especially with all of the bigotry in this world. It’s courageous. I could relate to their stories of battling depression and inner demons, being bullied, not feeling good enough, it goes on. They overcame these struggles and did not let it get in the way of following their dreams. It inspires me to do the same. I grew up feeling like I was too weird. Kids in school would make comments like that and had an effect on my self-esteem. I spent years constantly trying to adjust myself to fit other people’s standards. Learning to love who I am is still an ongoing process. But seeing these queens who are all unique in their own way and comfortable in their own skin is everything.

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I’ve often heard drag queens describe being in drag as being another person. Some even say that they gained confidence from it. Which is another thing I can relate to.  As a child I remember creating characters at home and pretending to be them. I dealt with insecurities and felt like I’d rather be anyone else. I also took an interest in acting because I enjoyed pretending to be someone else.

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The show introduced me to the world of drag. It inspired me to keep doing what I love. I love creating and I’ll try anything that involves creating. I’ve even taken an interest in doing drag. It combines the four things I love: Fashion, makeup, art, and creating. I look forward to learning more about it so that I can understand it more.

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I even learned a little bit more about having confidence in myself. It taught me more about embracing my personality including my “weirdness”. On top of being entertaining, RuPaul’s drag race has helped me, which is why it has become one of my favorite shows.

Stop sexualizing young girls

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I remember being followed around by grown men at the age of twelve, because of the way my body matured. Even though I was clearly a little girl (I even had the face of one), these men didn’t care. I’ve been approached by men at the age of sixteen, who “couldn’t believe I was only sixteen”, but proceeded to ask for my number anyways. A man once approached me, then ended up lashing out at me because I “didn’t dress like a teenager and should’ve been wearing a t-shirt and jeans instead”.  I’ve even took part in calling little girls fast and seeing them chase after older men, instead of helping them because I didn’t know any better.

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Stop sexualizing young girls. Stop posting pictures of them on your Facebook suggesting that them wearing a romper or posing with their hands on their hips is a sexual thing. Stop saying that the little girl that lives next door is going to be a “thot” or a “hoe” when she gets older just because she likes to play with makeup and admires Beyonce. They’re children.

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Stop justifying grown men preying on little girls. Don’t use a child being “fast” or not dressing her age as an excuse for grown men (who know better than her) pursuing her. Instead of telling your daughters to stop dressing a certain way in the house because you don’t know who’s around, know who you’re letting around your kids. The way your daughter dresses in the house is not the reason a predator is a predator.

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Stop letting men say “She looks grown”, as a way for them to justify their creepy behavior. Trust me, these men can tell the difference between a grown woman and a little girl. Stop saying that teenage girls look like grown women these days, because you know damn well that they don’t. Teenage girls wearing full faces of makeup and a short dresses change nothing. It also gives a grown man no right to chase after them.

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Just let these little girls be kids. Stop treating them like grown women. Stop putting toxic beliefs into their head.  Let them be wholesome and innocent. Protect them at all costs.

 

Rape Culture in High School

(After a few months, I’m back writing. No More Distractions.)

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(Source – Google)
rape cul·ture
noun
noun: rape culture
  1. a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse.
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About a week ago, I was told by a friend that one of our old classmates had just been charged with sexual assault. Sadly I saw it coming. Things like this happened too often at my old school. But no one ever did anything about it. Too many people in my school had sexist views. They believed things like, “A woman should dress the way she wants to be approached.”, or “Only certain women are worthy of respect.”. There was a lot more said and believe me: It was a lot more vulgar. Boys would grope random girls in the hallway and everyone would laugh, including me. We thought this type of behavior was okay. Being grabbed in the hall by a stranger was uncomfortable, but I always let it slide. I was a naive and insecure girl, so I was just happy to have their attention. I knew it wasn’t right, I wasn’t going to say anything though.

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Around tenth grade, rumors started to fly about me. People started to accuse me of sleeping around, being easy, being a ho- You get the point. The thing is I was a virgin. I had never even had sex. That’s when I started attracting the attention of the football team. Football players started believing it was okay to grope me and bluntly ask me to do obscene things with them. They would call me names in the middle of the hallway and talk about what they heard about me. I didn’t do anything about it though. I ignored it even though it bothered me a lot. It slowly stopped as the years went by, but it still makes me angry when I think about it. It was sexual harassment. I was a victim of rape during my senior year. I prefer not to get into detail about it. It still affects me and I have not received treatment for it yet.

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At my school it was “cool” to expose girls. Expose as in guys would record themselves having sex with a girl or save their nudes, then they would pass it around to their friends or put it on social media. This is actually considered a crime. As far as I know, no one at my school ever got into serious trouble for it. The girl would become a laughing stock for a few weeks. She would have a bad reputation at school because words spread fast. I used to laugh and joke about this type of stuff to my friends. But, it wasn’t funny at all. I imagine how the girls must’ve felt. The embarrassment and betrayal. They were probably scared to report it.

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If only we were taught in school about sexual harassment and sexual assault. If only we were taught that everyone is deserving of respect, no matter how they dressed or how “pure” we believe them to be. If only we had sexual education classes in school where everyone could have learned what consent was. I wish I could go back and report every single thing that happened to me. But at the same time I don’t want to go back, those were painful times for me. One thing I can do now is discuss rape culture with my peers and younger generations to keep this dangerous cycle from continuing.

The Election of Donald Trump

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I am truly disgusted with America right now. How could anyone vote for this sorry excuse for a human being? This man is racist, xenophobic, and sexist. He has no respect for women and brags about forcing himself on them. He called Mexicans rapists and wants to deport them all. He made fun of a disabled man. He tells his supporters that the immigrants are stealing everyone’s jobs. He also refers to black people as “The African Americans” and tells us that we have nothing to lose. The list of disgusting comments Trump has made is endless. This is the person who the majority of voters deemed fit to be the leader of the United States? A reality star who is also a racist and a misogynist? Are you serious? This has to be a joke. But then again…the U.S. elected George W. Bush.

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America prides itself on being the land of justice and equality. Donald Trump represents none of that. The fact that people support him scares me. Watching his supporters cheering and screaming whenever he makes a bigoted statement is alarming. I knew racism still existed and I understand that it will probably never go away. But seeing the majority of Americans vote a racist into office is frightening. It proves that there are plenty of people in the country that share his views. I don’t know what to expect when Trump gets into office. I don’t know what to expect now that he has been elected. I fear for the safety of Muslims. I fear for the safety of women. I fear for the safety of Latinos. I fear for the safety of the LGBT community. I fear for the safety of African Americans. I fear for the safety of my family and friends, who are all people of color. Some are Muslim. Some are apart of the LGBT community. Most of them are African American. It broke my heart seeing the panic in my mother’s face, when we saw that Trump was winning.

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Besides him being a bigot, he is also unqualified to be a politician. This man has no experience in politics. He has no idea how to run a country. Trump is a reality TV star. A businessman? Eh…I guess you could call him that. He is the heir to his father’s construction firm and real estate. It’s still up and running, I’ll give him that. But running a business is nothing like running a country. These are people’s lives we’re talking about. There is a HUGE difference. I’m really worried about the future of this country. I feel like this country as a whole took a few steps forward when Obama was elected. But, we took giant steps backward when Trump was elected President of the United States.