Personal Essay My Abs

The Relationship I Have With My Abs

I just want a six-pack.

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I used to be able to look down.

I can't remember how long ago that was, but I remember it happening. I don't think it was a particular year, I just remember certain days when I looked down and was satisfied.

The last day I remember was the summer of 2012. I was fourteen, walking in the low tide bay waters in Orleans. I was wearing a hot pink bikini from Old Navy. I remember being excited to have my first "real bikini," instead of the "two pieces" I had worn previously. I remember walking in the shallow water, trying to catch the eye of some boys my age. I swore some were looking. I got a sunburn.

A week and a half ago, I was okay with it. But that was during a long dance class and I was wearing all black. So I shed my shirt and did the rest in my sports bra. And I was fine. I was too busy enjoying the time dancing with friends. I felt like I was burning calories.

Even an hour ago, I was sort of okay with it. Even after I stuffed my face with two different types of chips. Even after I ate a plate of cheese fries for dinner and a slice of pizza for lunch. Maybe because I was going to the gym and I felt like my white, tight, workout tank top would suddenly stop being so tight on me and would make me look skinnier.

I actually felt fine today. Best I've felt this year. Until I walked into the bathroom to remove my makeup. I couldn't avoid the ocean of the bathroom mirror.

I saw the way my top bunched around, and how my pants just put emphasis on my muffin top. I ran to my room. I threw the top under my bed. I put the baggier shirt on that I had worn earlier. I felt better.

I think this started in sixth grade. When the curves seemed to appear out of nowhere. When I bought a shirt that "supposedly would tighten my abs." When my dance leotards got tighter. When Jackie pointed said I shouldn't be snacking so much before dance class. When I skipped breakfast so often, and when that caused me to lose consciousness in school. When I tried to convince myself that I fell over because of the gross article we were assigned to read in class.

But it's not that serious. It's not like I'm starving myself. It's not like I'm placing my fingers in my mouth and bending over the toilet bowl. It's not like this is an issue. I don't have an eating disorder.

I haven't skipped a meal in years. Sure I forget to eat at times, and I feel guilty when I eat a large bag of chips and don't work out. But doesn't everyone?

I just want a six-pack. I just want to get rid of the muffin top I've been saying I wanted to get rid of for years. Is that so bad?

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My Freckles Are Not A Beauty Trend For You To Appropriate And Immitate

Those with faces full of freckles can't wipe them off like you can after a photo shoot.

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While it is fun to use makeup to express yourself, one can argue unless you are in costume, it should be used to enhance your features, not create new ones. The trend of artificial freckles puts a nasty taste in my mouth reminiscent to the feeling I get when I see a Caucasian woman apply such dark foundation to her face that she appears to be donning blackface.

To someone who has a face full of freckles, it is offensive to see you paint on freckles as if they were not permanent features of other people's skin that they cannot remove with a makeup wipe. I remember asking my cousin at 5 years old if I could surgically remove my freckles and crying when she broke to me that I'd be stuck with what she called giraffe spots my whole life.

I'm not alone in feeling self-conscious about my freckles. The face is the fulcrum of the identity, and it can feel like my facial identity is like a haphazard splash of orange/brown debris. Another against the fake freckles movement retorts: "you'll soon regret them when people begin to describe you as a polka-dot-skinned troll or a cinnamon-toast-faced goblin. Also, when your eyebags start to sag in middle-age, that 'cute' skin art will probably deteriorate into something more closely resembling oblong blackheads. Sincerely, A Freckled Person"

One woman recalls her struggle with accepting the patterns of her skin from a very young age:

“When I was a young girl, I remember staring at myself in my bathroom mirror and imagining my face without the scattered brown dots that littered my face and body. I dreamed of having the small imperfections removed from my face and obtaining the smooth porcelain skin that I envied. I looked at my bare-faced friends in awe because they had what I wanted and would never know. For some odd reason, I had made myself believe that my freckles made me ugly."

I've come to appreciate the beauty of these sun kisses, and many nowadays have too. However, freckles haven't always been considered cute. There is a history of contempt toward red reader freckled people, just ask Anne Shirley! The dramatic young heroine laments: "Yes, it's red," she said resignedly. "Now you see why I can't be perfectly happy. Nobody could who had red hair. I don't mind the other things so much — the freckles and the green eyes and my skinniness. I can imagine them away. I can imagine that I have a beautiful rose-leaf complexion and lovely starry violet eyes. But I cannot imagine that red hair away. I do my best. I think to myself, "Now my hair is a glorious black, black as the raven's wing." But all the time I know it is just plain red, and it breaks my heart. It will be my lifelong sorrow." (Montgomery).

Historically, freckles on ones face have been seen as dirty or imperfect. It's easy to forget that Irish features such as red hair and freckles have been subject to hateful discrimination for centuries. In some places, the word ginger is even used as a slur.

I am not a red-headed stepchild for you to beat — or for you to appropriate.

My facial texture is not a toy for you to play with.

It is rude and inconsiderate to pock your face for a selfie while those with randomly splashed spots get someone once a week trying to rub off the "dirt speck" on their face.

Greg Stevens has a theory to why there is anti-red prejudice

“Skin tone is another one of those well-studied features that has been shown to consistently have an impact on people's assessment of physical beauty: Those with clear, evenly-colored skin are widely regarded as being more attractive than people with patchy, blotchy, or freckled skin.
Nowhere is this more obvious than when looking at professional photos of redheaded models and celebrities. Even those "hot redheads" that flaunt the redness of their hair usually are made-up on magazine covers to have almost unnaturally even skin tones. Moreover, there is a reasonable theory to explain why the bias against freckles might be more than just a cultural prejudice. Not to be too blunt about it, but freckles are cancer factories."

By that, the author means freckles can be early indicators of sun damage or skin cancer. This illusion that freckles indicate deficiency may also play in negative connotations toward a person with freckles

While I acknowledge the intention of people with clear skin who paint freckles on their face isn't to offend — rather it is to appreciate freckles as a beauty statement — the effect is still offensive. If you are thinking about trying this freckle fad, you should put down your fine tipped brush and consider what it would be like if you couldn't wipe away the spots.

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Reflections On My Freshman Year Of College

The memories that will last forever.

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As I write this, I'm now back home for the summer. As I unpack my clothes, my postcards, and my photos from my dorm, I can't help but reflect on my first year of college.

Going into school, I had the added stress of completely moving out of my hometown in New Jersey with only two weeks to turn around and then move out to Boston. Additionally, I was the only person in my high school graduating class to choose Emerson, so I went in completely alone. Thankfully, things turned out okay, and I quickly started to feel at home.

I have loved meeting so many people with different perspectives, who came to Boston from all over the country. I have friends on the East and West Coasts, and what feels like everywhere in between. My favorite thing about college is that my career path involves so much storytelling, and the city around me is constantly radiating new and interesting stories.

I've met musicians, artists, and filmmakers who each have a unique passion for their respective crafts. It's been an honor to tell their stories through my own work, and to learn more about the intricate details that go into music producing and filmmaking.

Victory parades, protests, and marches have all made their way down my street at one point or another. I've captured confetti and smiles and picket signs and screams through my camera lens, in the thick of it in my corner of the city.

My new Boston neighborhood set the scene for so many memories and valuable experiences. Only my second week into school, I auditioned for a role as an on-air broadcast correspondent on a campus news show, and was lucky enough to get the position, becoming the only freshman on the cast during my first semester.

This was easily one of my most impactful experiences of my first year. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to work with such a talented and respectful cast and crew, who taught me so much about broadcast journalism in a single year. Never have I ever envisioned myself on screen, so this was a truly pleasant surprise.

I worked as a behind-the-scenes photographer on a film set. I joined a sorority. All of these things are things that were completely unexpected. College has pushed me from my comfort zone in the best way possible, and led me to so many new, positive people and opportunities. I look forward to more adventures in my new city, and to more continuous inspiration and challenges.

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