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And as a woman, I want us all to love ourselves a little bit more today.
Women have such high standards to live up to today. We’re expected to do and be so much. The great Tina Fey said “Every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes." This quote is not only hilarious, but also incredibly true! How many of you feel insecure every time you walk on campus, or every time you walk into a party? Even the girls you think are perfect are insecure. Everyone has flaws. Sure some flaws may be more exaggerated than others, but that doesn’t mean that the girl still feels bad about them. My point here is that it doesn’t matter how “perfect” you are, what matters most is how “perfect” you feel.
In a world that’s moving so fast, it’s important to slow down and focus on what’s important. We become so focused on other people, on other things. If you think about it, we’re actually a very selfless society. We’re constantly worried about other people—family, friends, loved ones. And we all get so wrapped up in our significant others. It’s great to have someone to talk to at the end of the day, but, you can’t forget about yourself. I mean somebody has to take of you and your body, right? Okay, so why does it matter if you love yourself? If you just walk around with your body and your mind and not be happy with it, are you going to be a happy person?? There’s a very large chance the answer is no. Do you want to be happy? …. Well, then listen to what i’m saying here guys.
It’s 8:00 a.m. Time to get up for class and get ready for the day. You go to the mirror. “Wow i look good” (sarcastic tone), you think. You decide to just throw on some sweatpants and grab something quick for breakfast, like a pop tart or something. And then you’re out the door. You’re on the bus and thinking “please no one pay attention to me” “I don’t want anyone to notice me today.” Then you walk on campus with your blinders on, making sure not to draw any attention to yourself. You go your whole day trying to be unnoticed, hidden from the world. Did you notice something about this routine? Where was the positivity in it, where is the self-love? Where’s the consideration for your body? There’s nooooo love here guys. Now what if you got up in the morning, told yourself “damn i look great,” and actually meant it, put on a rockin’ outfit, ate a nutritious and tasty breakfast, and told yourself, “i’m gonna kick this day’s ass.” Your day would be completely different. I promise. By doing these things you’re setting yourself up for success. By looking good and giving yourself a nutritious breakfast, you’re showing that you love yourself. The way you treat and think about yourself has such an impact on your success and future.
So where do you begin if you’re completely unsatisfied with your body, your looks, your personality? Start with small changes then. If you’re unhappy with your weight and the way you feel because of it, do something about it. And no, don’t just say you’re going to do something, actually do something. But, it’s also important to remember that even though you’re not satisfied right now, you’re still beautiful. You’re still capable, you still have amazing things to offer. You’re a human being, that’s something beautiful just in itself! It’s so crucial to keep this in your mind— you will always be you. Stop wishing you were someone else— (this is something i’ve been guilty of way too many times). It’s easy to look at celebrities and try to mirror them or get down on yourself because you aren’t and never will be them. Well, that’s because you. are. you.
Okay, I want you to look in the mirror. Look at your face and your body. Notice all the things you love about yourself. Notice the things you don’t like. Now, instead of endlessly body shaming yourself. Turn those negative thoughts into positive thoughts, find the bright side of them. Say you have some extra belly fat, (big whoop) look at the bright side—belly fat is a comfortable cushion! It’s little silly things like that that will make it seem like less of a big deal. The more you practice small exercises like this the more it will boost your confidence.
So as women, i want us all to love ourselves a little bit more today. Go look in the mirror right now. Every square inch of you is gorgeous, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s not.
Why is everyone yelling?!
With the dawn of social media comes an entirely new character: the Facebook politician. Usually, articles or posts about politics are fairly sporadic. That is until a major event happens. Suddenly, everyone knows everything about everything. Everyone seems to have a very strong opinion. Everyone is super knowledgeable, and what better vessel of information than they themselves? Which is pretty reasonable, given that people’s emotions run high when something major happens. And I don’t blame them, emotions are good!
In the beginning stages of this wave, I’m doing all right. I’ve edited my friend list over the years so I usually only get to see a particular side of the story. It's one that I agree with, for the most part, so it doesn’t really bother me, but then it gets to the point where it’s the only thing I see. If it is irritating to me, a supporter of the position you’re taking, then imagine what it must feel for someone who’s following you and doesn’t agree with you.
Now if you feel like being annoying on Facebook, that’s completely up to you. I’m annoying myself sometimes. But don’t share things under the guise that you’re actually going to change someone’s opinion by introducing an “informative” article. I put that in quotations because sources are varied and often biased. The people agreeing with you were on your side to begin with.
Also, when have any actual productive conversations occurred through the comments section? Never. That’s because people are either yelling at each other through the keyboard about how wrong the other person is or correcting their grammar. It becomes a painful, yet sometimes entertaining exchange to read. Neither party actually has an open mind or is looking to change their opinion, of course. It’s just an excuse to voice their opinion yet another time.
This is why somewhere down the line I decided it’s best not to share my feelings about a particular topic because at the end of the day, your opinion doesn’t really matter. I realized that whether I did anything or not, things stayed the same. My opinion didn’t offer anyone an epiphany, so I decided to save my opinions for those who I feel could respect it. Everyone feels like an activist when they’re on Facebook, but really it probably provides the same amount of impact as a cat video.
If someone wants to know how I feel about something or wants to know why I think a certain way, ask me in person. Having an actual conversation, in person, is far more effective than just blasting your opinion away. Don’t waste your energy or raise your blood pressure over pointless arguments, but instead talk to someone who is genuinely curious. No one ever changed anyone’s mind about anything by forcing information and their opinion down your throat. You effect the most change by talking to someone who is already open to it.
The NBA playoffs remind me of my basketball journey through time
I remember that when I was very little, my dad played in an adult basketball league, and I remember cheering him on with everything in me. I also remember going to Tuscola basketball games when the old floor was still there and the bleachers were still wooden. I remember always wanting to play basketball like my dad, and that's just what I did.
I have been playing basketball since I was 4 or 5 years old. It started with cheering on Dad at his games. I can remember him lifting me up on his shoulders so that I could reach the goal to shoot. I then started playing when I was 5 or 6 for the Waynesville Recreation League, and I guess I played at that level until I was 9. It was arounf that time that I wanted to stop playing basketball and only dance (yes, I danced for 7 years). I decided not to give up though, because of my dad, and when I was 9 or 10, I started playing Waynesville Youth Basketball for 3 years with some of the same girls who I played in high school with. We played for John Swanger, who is also a pastor for Calvary Road Baptist Church. I could still pick his voice out of a crowd, along with my dad's and my high school coach's voice. He always cared about us, and although he was tough at times, he taught me so much about not only basketball, but about life. Then it came time for middle school, and I didn't really want to play basketball for the school my 7th grade year, I wanted to continue playing youth ball, but the coach told me that it would be harder to play at high school if I didn't start that year, and so I did.
It was in middle school that I really started to become self aware. I knew that I wasn't the skinniest or the tallest, and I knew that I wasn't the fastest. Still, I gave my all to everything I did, but that still didn't seem like enough. My entire 7th grade year I played fifth quarter and sat the bench, and it seemed like nothing I could do could get me to play, and so again, in 8th grade, I was thinking about going back to youth ball, but I didn't, and I ended up playing much more in 8th grade.
I do remember, though, my coach telling me that if I didn't fix the way I shot (because it was weird), that I wouldn't get to play. I also recall being told at some point that I wasn't a basketball player. That almost stopped me from playing altogether.
By high school, I was so ready to play for my lifelong coach, Ann Gardner. Coach Gardner had taught me since I was little, because I always attended her camps as a kid. Dad was the one who pounded hard work into me, and Gardner was the one that sharpened my skills. I will always remember the first time I shot a left handed lay-up at one of her camps, and I thought I was a hot shot. I should also mention that I also wanted to be able to dunk, and I told my dad that. Instead of shooting me down, he told me I could do it, and so for a long while that was a big goal of mine.
Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, I still can't dunk.
I played for Gardner in high school, and by the end of my freshman year, I was playing some games with the varsity team. I played varsity sophomore through senior year, and my sophomore year, we went all the way to the state championship, but unfortunately, we lost at Regionals. Until my junior year, I didn't want to play basketball in college, but something in me lit up, and I decided to start looking for colleges to play at. The rest is history, and now I play at Warren Wilson College.
I say all of this, not to pat myself on the back, but to remind myself what this game means to me. All the hours put in: the running, early mornings at the gym, weight lifting, etc. All of it started when I was 5, and it has all led to this. 14 years of basketball.
Some days, it is really hard to be positive, but it is so important to stay positive on the bad days, something my dad reminds me of. Some days, though, I walk into our gym and the familiar smell of wood floors and sweat hits my nose. The sound of shoes squeaking. The sound of balls bouncing and nets swooshing. Some days I wish I could go back to the beginning and do it all over again. When I take time to reflect on where I came from, as a 5 year old girl cheering on my dad, to a 19 year old woman playing college, I feel a lot of pride, and I feel very thankful for everyone who believed in me. Especially to my dad, who was at every single game, who spent countless hours teaching me, who spent loads of money on gear, and who always, and still does, believe that I am the best there is. And, of course, for giving me the gift of basketball.
Because it is okay to not be "skinny."
In America, we tend to stick up our noses at certain things that aren't the norm. For example, people who are overweight, or the politically correct term “obese." Men and women who are overweight get so much backlash because they are not skinny or "in shape," especially, African-American women, who are typically known for having wider hips and thicker thighs. Robert Darryl, an African-American filmmaker, explains the overall intention of the body mass index in his follow-up sequel, “America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments."
Throughout this documentary he also explains that, the body mass index cannot be used to establish someone’s ideal weight, especially in reference to African-American women. According to Madamenoire.com, Brande Victorian stated that, “The BMI also doesn’t take into account muscle mass, which black women have more of, and which is more dense than fat.” Naturally, Black women weigh more than Caucasian women. Therefore, Black women are being encouraged to lose weight to conform to a certain standard that does not relate to us. Has anyone stopped to think that maybe they are comfortable with the way they are?
For my entire childhood, now going into my young adult years, I have been considered overweight. Growing up as a child, seeing all my friends being able wear shorts and bikinis, made me feel out of place. For a long time I felt like an outcast because I could not wear the clothes that I saw my friends wearing. It took me a very long time to come out of my shell and truly be confident, despite how much I weighed. Up until my senior year of high school I was finally able to come to terms with myself and truly not care about what society thinks I should look like. In my earlier years, I always thought that being overweight was a death sentence. I thought that I was never going to be happy with myself on the inside and out.
Now that I'm older, I can honestly say that being overweight does not affect me how it used to. I am truly loving the skin that I am in and I am not afraid of holding anything back! If anything, this has taught me to have tougher skin and to make a new trend. Plus-size females are starting to become more confident with themselves and letting the world see that curvy girls are where it’s at. It is refreshing to see plus-sized women embracing their bodies and promoting body appreciation. From one female to another, this journey is not always going to be easy, because there are still some times when I wish I was smaller. I don’t get these feelings frequently, but these thoughts do come to mind every so often.
However, once you come to a point where you can really appreciate yourself and all your flaws, those thoughts will be impossible to get under your skin; along with the rest of society’s backward thoughts about how a female’s body is supposed to be shaped and what it should not be. Growing into my teenage years, I always used to dwell on what other people thought about plus-sized females. Putting myself in a position where I was worried about other people’s thoughts and not my own.
The key to having this kind of care free mentality is confidence! I cannot stress enough about how having a good level of self-esteem and respect for yourself plays a big part of releasing that inner diva of yours. The great Diana Ross once said, “I’m coming out, I want the world to know, got to let it show!” Remember ladies, no one can really love you better than you can love yourself. Never be afraid to embrace those thick thighs and tantalizing curves, honey!
Mental Awareness reminds you that it's always darkest before the dawn.
As the month of May begins, so does Mental Health Awareness Month. Anxiety, depression, bipolar mood disorder, eating disorders, and more affect millions of people in the United States alone every year. Out of those affected, only about one half seek some form of treatment.
I am very close to a lot of different people who struggle with depression and other forms of struggles with mental health. It is hard to see loved ones struggle from an illness that they cannot control, especially when all that you want them to know is how much you love and care for them.
Although I haven't exactly been very public about it, I've dealt with mild forms of depression, eating disorders and anxiety for a long time now. Recently, my eating disorders brought about a crisis that I wasn't necessarily looking for. Even though I don't talk about it very often, that doesn't mean that it isn't there.
I'm lucky enough to say that I'm much better now than I have been in the past. Contrary to some opinions, it's definitely not a problem that has a "quick fix."
Disorders like these don't just "go away." There's no age limit. Everything could be going smoothly in life, but that doesn't mean that these problems are simply going to disappear.
Struggles with mental health can't just be "swept under the rug," like a lot of people seem to believe. They are real, they are there, and they matter.
Do not diminish another person's anguish because you cannot see what they are going through. The mind can be a beautiful place, but it can also be torturous to many. You have no idea what another person is really thinking, so don't find it acceptable to demean them for what they have to say.
Do not ever call a victim of depression weak, because they are some of the strongest people to walk the planet. Every smile that they make is a moment in which they choose to let light into their lives. Every day that they wake up is another day that they choose to live.
Often, internal struggles are far more difficult to cope with than external. Whether they are open with you about their pain or not, let the people that you care about know that you are always there for them. Assure them that they have a shoulder to cry on, even on their toughest days.
Sometimes, the only thing that we can do is listen. Besides simply lending a helping hand, reach out with your heart as well. Listen to what they have to say. Listen to why they feel the way they do. As much as you would like to do for them, hearing what they have to say is among the most important initial steps.
Make yourself aware of mental health not just in May, but every day of the year. If you or someone close to you suffers from difficulties with mental health, just remember: "Tough days don't last -- tough people do."
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign