To The Person Who Took My Flower, It Was Never Yours To Take

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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The Real Reasons Women Don't Report Sexual Assault

Content warning: Sexual assault.

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These days in the United States, it is hard to get online and not see a headline of a woman coming forward telling her story of how she was sexually assaulted. You read the article and scroll through the comments underneath. Whether it happened last night, or 20 years ago, you'll probably see questions like these: "what was she wearing?" "was she drunk" "was she walking alone late at night?" If the rape didn't happen the night before, you'll probably see this question as well: "Well what took her so long to report?" Followed by an "I don't believe her, just another whore looking for attention." or.."He probably didn't call her back, so now she's looking for revenge." We can't forget my favorite, though "Was she drunk and just woke up regretting it?" Those are just a few reasons women don't report.

We see headlines about Brock Turner violently raping an unconscious girl, and getting sentenced only SIX MONTHS in jail. He only served three months. Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault by three women, was appointed as Supreme Court Justice. Donald Trump, the President of the United States, sexualizes his own daughter and says things like "grab her by the pussy." The leader of the free world speaks about women like that. Are you still questioning why we don't come forward?

If you find a woman willing to open up about her experience with sexual assault, her story will probably sound something like this. First comes the shock, what you just went through is unfathomable. You're not even completely sure if what you think just happened, happened. You blame yourself, you go through every second kicking yourself for not fighting back harder, not yelling, and maybe kicking yourself for not saying anything at all. Denial sets in shortly after. You tell yourself "no, that wasn't rape. That couldn't happen to me."

Eventually, the pain sets in and there are a lot of tears. It sucks, the dreams, the flashbacks, even certain sounds will take you back to that moment. Sometimes it causes panic attacks and severe anxiety. You dissociate, you don't want to socialize, you don't want to go out and have fun, because you're scared you'll break down. When the anger sets in, though, that's a different story. No man stands a chance, especially those who resemble him. You are repulsed by everything men do, and you think it will never go away. Honestly, you pity the next man you fall for, if that even happens because you don't know how you'll be intimate again, both emotionally and physically.

The last thing a sexual assault survivor wants is to see the person who did it again. So that plays a huge part in not reporting, along with the trauma that comes with getting a rape kit and being interrogated by the police, as if you've done something wrong. Once you've been completely violated, having a stranger poke and prod you to make sure you're not pregnant or don't have an STD feels like a violation all over again.

Don't ever ask a woman why she didn't report and do not ever ask why it took so long. You don't know what courage it took to accept it come forward in the first place.

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