Redefining The Purpose Of 'V-Day'

Redefining The Purpose Of 'V-Day'

V-Day doesn’t just stand for Valentine’s Day.
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When people think of Valentine’s Day, it’s usually one of two extremes: either utter pain and disgust over a commercialized holiday or love for everything gooey and romantic especially those cute little chocolates. While I consider myself to be of both minds depending on the year, I feel like it is a mostly a day that can mean absolutely nothing or something incredible. It really just depends on your preference.

But something I feel very passionate is the sharing of a different kind of V-Day. For me, V-Day doesn’t just stand for Valentine’s Day. It stands for female empowerment, gender inclusiveness, and most importantly vagina.

V-Day is an organization that was started to promote the wellness and support of women, particularly those who have experienced rape or violence. It was founded by playwright Eve Ensler after she wrote her acclaimed play, "The Vagina Monologues." The play is a series of monologues that Ensler crafted based on real-life interviews she conducted with women asking them about their personal lives, sexuality, and of course vaginas.

The play has been very notable in being able to serve as a positive catharsis for women to express their feelings, particularly with sexuality. The monologues are often humorous or sad, but at heart vulnerable and needing to be heard.

The play was written and premiered in 1996 and as such, its content has now been criticized in how our definition of 'female' has expanded. Being female now doesn’t isn't classified or restrained to one who has a vagina. It is not meant to include those who do identify as transgender, non-gender binary, or do not label themselves to a gender at all.

As is the case, "The Vagina Monologues" has taken on new meaning over time. This idea has been implemented especially with college campuses as these productions are notable for being executed around the time of Valentine’s Day to mark their own V-Day. College productions around the nation now include personal monologues by students to reflect their own diverse experiences. This addition of new monologues as well as editing of monologues to be more gender inclusive makes the work reflective and accepting for everyone today.

Performances of "The Vagina Monologues" are also mounted along with charities or student organizations sponsoring and providing awareness to topics of sexual violence and awareness. Not only the content, but the supporting material and resources that go hand in hand are part of what makes this day (and work) so important.

And if that isn’t enough to convince you, the work speaks for itself. Still today in 2017, it has an air of timelessness. It is still able to provide a refuge for women of all sexual orientations, gender, and race to come together as one.

I was reminded of this when I attended my college’s production of "The Vagina Monologues" this past Friday. Seeing how the play questioned and pushed the societal issues that are always plaguing us like rape, mental illness, and repressed sexuality were important to witness. It provided an unloading of grief, pain, and fear.

But at the same time, it was also a space of celebration where everyone was allowed to feel empowerment from being however they wanted to. Nowadays especially with our political strife and as we are coming more into an age where it’s ridiculous that we’re still combatting gender inequality, it is important not to take a play like this and the organization that has sprung from it for granted.

We need to be advocating for more art and places for women to express both feelings of silliness and seriousness, but all accepted of validation. The more opportunities women have to tell and own their experiences is the least we can afford after continued years of oppression, violence, and injustice.

So during this time of year if you’re sad about not having a date this year or sick of commercialized holidays, sink your teeth into something more fruitful. Learn about the importance of V-Day, how to embody this spirit all year-round, and do your best to make femaleness something to be embraced like a valentine.

For more information about V-Day, go to http://www.vday.org/. And if a campus or local theater company is doing The Vagina Monologues, go support your badass female artists!

Cover Image Credit: Blogspot

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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The Rejuvenating Qualities Of Panama City Beach

There are definitely some healing properties in these ocean waves.

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We have gone to the beach quite a few times this summer season. We live around 2 hours away and try to make it to Panama City Beach at least once a week. It's a venture for sure, but compared to the 7-day drive from The Rockies of Colorado to the Peanut Capital of the World, Dothan, Alabama (a time in which no one has heard of) we can't really make any excuses.

Now, I am sitting here typing away in the early morning while watching a summer storm blow in over the sea but, make no doubt about it, the ocean and its shores are one of the most healing, rejuvenating places on this planet. There is a calm in the break of the waves on the shoreline, and yet it pairs with an unspoken knowledge that the ocean is this uncontrollable force.

This isn't a speech on saving the planet and being eco-friendly, recycling and watching out for our beaches, which is a topic I am very passionate about and a post I would totally create. This is simply an open letter to those who might need to get away in order to revive their souls.

If you are anything like me, you have emotions pulsing through you at all times, ideas about everything under the sun, a longing to explore and adventure, and a deep need for rest, all at the same time. There are not many things in this world that truly satisfy me. There is a lot of disappointment. There is a lot of wrongdoing and suffering. It's overwhelming.

That is why I come to the beach. It removes the overwhelming things.

You see, there is nothing complicated about the waves (unless you make it complicated, but we stay away from people like you). They are simple. They are peaceful. And 99% of the time in my life that is what I need, simplicity and peace. I over-complicate things myself, I make excuses and I feel hurt in most moments of my life. I lived an exposed, vulnerable lifestyle that drains me.

That is why I love the ocean. It replenishes my drained soul. It energizes me. It is motivating and inspiring, relaxing and unwinding.

I don't pass out advice. I never have. I do, however, try living an honest life, always in the moment, so I can share my experiences in hopes that others might find them helpful. That is precisely why I am writing this. Because if you could just get to the beach, to a shoreline, it might change you. Seeing this vast landscape changes your perspective on the situations in your life you thought might overtake you.

The ocean speaks. It heals. It tells your worries to cease and your mind to rest. It tells your body to relax and your busy schedule that there IS time to take a moment. Don't forget to take a moment for yourself this summer season.

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