We Give The Word “S-K-I-N-N-Y” Too Much Power

We Give The Word “S-K-I-N-N-Y” Too Much Power

Let’s overthrow the tyranny of “s-k-i-n-n-y." We are more than just bodies.
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A word: a seemingly insignificant pairing of letters…a singular term among 171,476 others in the English dictionary.

The word “skinny:” s-k-i-n-n-y… a seemingly insignificant pairing of letters that comprise a singular term among 171,476 that we as a society have transformed into a dominant concept with potent superpowers. These superpowers consist of the ability to manipulate minds, define beauty, alter moods, and determine success.

“Skinny” is not an ordinary word nor an ordinary adjective.

Skinny, rather, is an invincible force that society has tied in an interwoven knot with achievement, happiness, and beauty.

Yes… one word, one singular shape that may have once assumed only the esteem of the word “triangle,” or “tall” or “circular,” maintains the power to control the way we perceive ourselves and others.

Allow me to provide you with a scenario. My family of six traveled to my cousin’s home this Thanksgiving. My cousin is a seventeen-year-old student at the top of his class at a prosperous private school…who was recently invited to participate in a debate in India…who recently won a crew regatta…who recently asked out his first girlfriend… who lost a significant amount of weight since the last time we saw him. Subsequent to a quick “hello” followed by a hug or a handshake, the proceeding remark made by each and every one of my immediate and extended family members was something along the lines of “Wow… you look fantastic… you look so… skinny!”

Positive reinforcement was not only present but also very prominent the entire holiday. Numerous dialogues revolved around his weight loss. He was showered with abundant compliments. He was regarded as a “new and improved” kid, quite distinct from who he was just two months prior when he had been characterized by his buxom physique.

An adolescent, living a life robust with activity, achievements, and adventures, spoke primarily “skinny” talk this Thanksgiving holiday. “Skinny” talk seemed to be the most important to him and the people around him. These people around him, all loving friends and relatives, clearly focused on the "skinny kid", rather than the kid with limitless triumphs and attributes.

This is an allusion to our society as a whole.

We exist in a society teeming with political disbelief, technological advances, an ever-changing opportunity structure, fascinating research about outer space, unique intersections and diversity. Now more than ever is the time to speak about each and every scope of life. Meaningful discussions are opportunities to acquire new knowledge and thereafter, create positive changes. Yet, the societal fairy god-mother has granted the letters s-k-i-n-n-y with the power of a tyrant.

We speak highly of the letters. We prioritize the letters. We converse about the letters. In fact, that six letter dictatorship has the authority to make us happy or sad, to warp us into success stories or failures. In a world where one individual can have so many attributes and perform so many significant roles, we actively allow for the tyranny of s-k-i-n-n-y to prevail.

You, your friend, me, my cousin…

We are all far more than those six letters.

While it is simple and subconscious to allow the dictator to dictate, I invite you to remind yourself and your friends that our world is far too complex to allow for a number on a scale or a six-letter word govern how we feel.

Engage in a more meaningful conversation than that. Compliment one’s character. De-emphasize that word and all of the social constructs that arise with it. Because a word is just a word unless you give it those mighty superpowers that it does not deserve.

Cover Image Credit: @aerie

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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9 Reasons Why You Should 100% Get That Body Modification You Want

Changing your body is never a bad thing and people need to learn to embrace that.

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I'm a woman with 27 piercings and 4 tattoos and honestly, I don't plan on stopping at that. There are many more body modifications I look forward to getting and I'm gonna rock the f*ck out of them.

1. It's your body

The most important thing is the fact that it is YOUR body. You should be able to do whatever you want with it, whether that means adding a few extra holes, making your arm an art piece, or adding horns to your head. You do you, boo boo.

2. Express yourself

Again, it's your body and you should be able to express yourself. If you want bright pink hair and a face tattoo you should do it. Let the world know that you are happy, adventurous, and daring.

3. They're fun

Changing yourself can be super fun. I have gotten numerous compliments on my piercings/tattoos and only a few "you know that's permanent, right?" remarks. Usually, after the compliment, the person goes "I wanted to get *insert something that you think is cool* but I can't because my job/parent/partner won't allow me to. Adding a new addition to your body honestly has this freeing effect. It's something you have to feel, it can't be explained.

4. A lot of jobs don't care anymore

Piggy backing off of the previous reason; loads of jobs no longer care about your tattoos or piercings (as long as they aren't offensive in which case they must be covered)! If you work with food they might ask you to switch to a hoop or a stud depending on their policy but honestly, it's worth it.

5. It could become a focal point

How many of you don't like something on your body? Probably a majority, and I'm right there with you. Why not get a tattoo to cover up that scar you're so insecure about? Why not get that piercing to draw the attention away from how big your ears are? It's very beneficial and also a great conversation starter in the moment.

6. You've been dying to get it

So you really want that body modification, then why not get it?! Splurge a little and treat yourself. The best reason to get something is if you want it, there's literally no better reason.

7. It would look soooo good on you

Maybe you have the perfect ears for a triple forward helix (ask a piercer how often that happens and then you'll be impressed with yourself) or your nose is literally the perfect shape for a piercing. People have probably told you a thousand times that something would look great on you, so why not try it out?

8. It could remind you of a happy memory

Maybe you want a tattoo in honor of a loved one that passed away. Or maybe you want one for a special event. Whatever your happy memory is, I suggest you get it. There's nothing more special than dedicating a piece of your body to something/someone. (name tattoos are not recommended)

9. Some of the nicest people I have ever met have body mods

People with tattoos, piercings, and colored hair are NOT scary. Most of them are honestly so sweet and caring. Getting that body modification you want might open your eyes to the real people around you.

Yeah maybe some people in your life will be a little upset that you got some form of body modification, but the people who really matter will get over it and still love you afterward. It's okay if you're completely clueless if you have an idea of what you want any real professional artist will be able to make your ideas come to life. Shout out to my tattoo artist and piercer for dealing with me, you guys have been great, really. So go for it! Get that body mod or don't, it's your body! Just live a little! And for goodness' sake, tip your artist!!

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