I Don't Have To Change To Fit Society's Standard

I Don't Have To Change To Fit Society's Standard

An open letter about loving yourself
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You are beautiful right now, the way you are. Now that we've established that we should know that throughout history and the world, beauty has been defined in various different ways and has always been associated with physical appearance. For example, in 1870 someone who was rather overweight was considered beautiful and attractive. In the Kayan tribe near Thailand having a significantly long neck is considered beautiful. Today in America and most of Europe being considerably skinny is deemed beautiful. Therefore, we must understand that each of us is beautiful in our own way.

Keeping this in mind, we can see how there is no set characteristic on how you have to look to be beautiful. Skinny can be beautiful and so can a little weight; black skin can be beautiful and so can white skin.

This is where many will advocate that because there is no true standard for beauty you don't have to change the way you look to fit your society's standards of beauty. In other words: you must love the way you are, you don't have to change.

In a way I agree with this. However, it doesn't really matter what I think. Let's look at the facts.

Both underweight and obese people compose a large number of people in the United States. In 2010, 1.7 percent of US adults 20 years or older was underweight. It might not seem like much, but that is roughly around 37 million people (almost the population of California). Obesity is more prevalent and approximately 68 percent of the US adult population is obese or overweight. That's two out of every three adults in the US population!

Both being underweight and obese can lead to serious and sometimes fatal diseases in the future. Being underweight has been associated with osteoporosis, anaemia, and being more likely to acquire an infection; similarly, being obese has been associated with coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Yet we continue to tell people that loving themselves means not changing.

The reality is that loving yourself means taking care of yourself. If a family member or close friend was doing something they liked, but you know is damaging them, wouldn't you stop them? Then in the same way you must love yourself enough to care about your health.

It's not about fitting someone's standard of beauty or doing what society wants us to do. It's about you loving yourself enough to take care of your body and your future.I tell you this because just as someone showed me that loving myself meant taking care of myself I want for you to understand that as well. It's not easy, but it's worth it.

Cover Image Credit: Medic Art Travel

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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My Dead Friend, Tony: Second Half

Twenty-six year old Mary is trying to make it big in the radio industry, despite the chaos from living with a middle-aged, raging alcoholic man who also happens to be dead.

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After sobbing for a couple of hours in the gas station parking lot, which had become one of my new pastimes, I guess I drove to the beach. I don't remember getting there, or being there. I must have gone swimming, because the next morning I woke up to wet clothes and chattering teeth. Chocolate was smeared on my face. I was grateful that I ended up in my car with all of the doors locked. Even through my complete dissociation, at least I considered personal safety.

I wanted a hot shower, so I drove home. I wasn't the least bit surprised when I walked through the door and saw Tony sitting casually in the armchair, drink in hand, with no pants on.

"What happened to you?" he said.

I ignored him and went straight to the bathroom. "I'm taking a shower, don't bother me." I said before slamming the door.

For once, Tony let me shower in peace. Maybe he could tell I was finally at the end of my rope. Maybe he felt bad. So bad that he left for good, and I could go back to having a clean apartment, or not cry every hour. I let the hot water burn my skin until I turned into a lobster.

I got out of the shower and put on my pink fuzzy robe. I opened the bathroom door as the hot steam rolled around me as if I were an evil villain entering from the depths of hell. I turned the corner and jumped. He was still there. I'll never get used to seeing a grown man sitting in a dark corner, lounging in his underwear.

"So, I listened to your answering machine while you were out of town. Your boss called," he said.

"I told you not to do that anymore." I glared.

"I can't help it, Mary. The messages play automatically!"

"Plug your fucking ears, then!"

"Where's the fun in that?" He chuckled.



Anxiety jolted through me like a tranquilizer. Oh yeah, that's right, I have a job at the local radio station. I totally forgot. And I'm expected to be at this job five days out of the week with written material: public service announcements, pop-culture segments, sports commentaries, what have you. The station was small and run-down enough to where I had to write everything myself, because my boss couldn't afford to hire anyone else, although the tech-guys helped me every now and then.

I didn't even know what day it was. I sank into my bed. Barney was propped up on my pillow, good as new. How'd Tony get his hands on a sewing kit?

"What did he say?" I asked softly.

Tony handed me his drink. A whiskey sour. I took a sip. I couldn't understand where he got his alcohol in the first place, since I never bought any for him.

"Hmm, well, he said if you don't show up tomorrow, you're fired."

"Cool. Anything else?"

Tony nodded and ran his fingers through his hair. He looked at me gently and smiled. A tear ran down his face. Why was he acting like a dad from an after school special?

"He said you're one of the best writers on the team, and he doesn't know why you're throwing that away."

"It's all your fault, that's why. I'm going insane because of you," I said.

"I know. I'm sorry, Mary, I really am."

He got up from the armchair and made me a drink of my own. I don't think he realized that as a former addict, alcohol wasn't really the best thing for me to have. But I appreciated the gesture. I took it, since everything else was going to shit. He sat back down and beamed at me.

"I have an idea, Mary," he said.

I scoffed. "You have an idea?"

"Yep. And I think it's a pretty damn good one, if I do say so myself." He took a sip of his drink and blotted his moustache. I waited. He took a deep breath and exhaled.

"So, you're failing at your job. That's okay, we've all been there." He laughed.

"And, I like to think I'm a pretty interesting guy. Charming, you could even say . . ." He stirred the drink in his hand. I watched as the brown liquid and ice clinked against the glass. "Charming" wouldn't exactly be the word I would describe him as, but I let it go for the time being.

"Okay, so?" I said.

"Don't you see?!" he exclaimed. I shook my head no.

"Mary! Write a segment on me!!!" He shot up from the chair and paced across the room, his hands flying every which way.

"You can talk about what it's like living with a ghost, such as myself. I really do put ya through the ringer, huh? You can interview me. Hell, we could even have our own radio show!" He clapped his hands together. I sat in silence. He looked down at our puke-stained carpet and twiddled his thumbs.

"I thought too, ya know, it'd be something we could do together. Something fun. It'd sure beat goin' at each other's throats all the time, don't ya think?" He smiled again.

I mulled his idea over in my head. The thought of presenting this to my boss made me want to throw-up. "Yeah, hey Bill, sorry I haven't come to work in I don't know how many days. I got this cool idea though, about this dead guy living in my apartment I could interview. He's pretty charming!"

And how would this work, even? It's not like Tony could come to the office with me. Or . . . could he? He'd never mentioned anything about leaving the apartment. But then again, where were all his booze coming from?

I took another sip of my drink and tried to picture doing a show with him; what that would even look like. It would be funny, probably. He had his moments. It could be philosophical, too, if he wanted to talk about what dying was like and what happens to you after the fact. Scientists and psychic mediums everywhere would eat this shit up.

Holy shit. Maybe Tony was onto something. This drunk lunatic could actually help me out. This could potentially be the perfect scenario. Doing a radio show with an actual dead person? It would be groundbreaking! It would be the talk of the town or the entire world, even. What if I made money from this? What if everyone who's ever doubted me would finally believe me? MethHead Mary was telling the truth after all! I'm not crazy!!!

A smile formed on my face.

"Okay, fine," I said.

Tony leaped in the air from excitement, giggling like a schoolgirl. The whole apartment shook. He started pacing again and muttering to himself. I'd never seen a purer side of him before. It was almost cute.

I guess I was helping him, too, in a way. I didn't know what it was like to die or be dead. I'd never asked him. It was probably lonely. Maybe that's why he drank all the time. Maybe having a platform to talk about it was something he'd wanted.

"Cheers to that!" he said.

We clinked our drinks together. He downed his in one gulp and made another, then downed that one, too. I went in the kitchen to grab some notepads and pens, and brought them out to the living room. I sipped my drink. We sat cross-legged on the floor and bounced ideas into the wee hours of the morning.

The sun eventually rose and I got ready for work, which meant pulling my hair up and putting on pants that were not flannel pajamas. Tony was passed out on the floor, snoring. I smiled. I put a blanket over my dead friend and walked out the door, hoping to God that I still had a job.

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