Togetherness In The Wake Of The Election

Togetherness In The Wake Of The Election

A beacon of hope after waking up in Trump’s America.
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On the morning of November 9th, I woke up with feeling that something wasn’t right. I hadn’t stayed up to watch the election results, but I knew before even opening my laptop that it was over, that he had won. I didn’t know what to feel, I don’t think I really felt anything. I laid there in bed and caught up on YouTube videos, the results of the election not fully sinking in yet. By noon I went on Facebook, and that is when I realized I had woken up to Trump’s America. The examples of hate crimes and bigotry were everywhere, as well as the fear each and every one of my friends shared. My stomach turned, I cried, knowing his victory was inspiring those previously silent to come out of the woodwork and spread their hate.

Eventually, I went to our student-run coffee shop and a friend made me a chai latte complete with words of concern and love. We sat together for awhile, talking about the election, our feelings, our lives at present, while leaving long gaps of silent filled with our pain and fear. Everyone in the coffee shop looked like they had just come back from battle, bruised and abused from watching Trump’s electoral votes accumulating during the night. I hadn’t eaten all day, my anxiety had me so nauseous I couldn’t think of food. Eventually we drifted up to the diversity center, and there we laid on bean bag chairs like soldiers nursing their battle wounds. It did feel like the end of a war -- or the beginning of one -- but one that we hadn’t really fought. Sure we had voted for candidates other than Trump, maybe we wore election garb, phone-banked, wrote articles voicing our concerns about the election and our pride for our candidate, but all of that was in optimism, it was all happy work that never left us scarred. Everyone in the room felt like they were at fault, somehow. Maybe if we had just done more, this wouldn’t have happened.

Later that evening, I finally ate dinner. The college president was, surprisingly, still on campus, walking from table to table asking how each of us were, and inviting us to his office should we need to talk. His words of kindness and concern were like that of a parent, despite the fact that he knows few of us by name. His gesture nearly made me cry there, knowing that someone rather distant from the individual student was genuinely worried about each and every one of us.

I went to a dialogue to discuss the current political climate after dinner. This dialogue was announced before the election; I expected to be talking about the bright future we had, how I hoped my candidate would keep her promises, how proud I was to be a part of such a historic election, but this is not what we discussed. Instead, we talked about our fears. The fear of being a Latina woman, the fear of getting no support from parents, the fear of leaving one conservative neighborhood only to go home to another, the fear that we as Americans failed each other. These discussions were not strictly filled with Democrats: Republicans who voted for Trump also participated in discussions, and showed true shock and surprise for the seemingly dramatic reactions from the majority of people on campus. The discussions were heavy, trying to explain why we might be in danger to people who feel nothing but safe in Trump’s America, but they were open dialogues where people from opposing sides were able to listen to each other and try to understand.

These talks were filled with tears, hugs from friends, words of support from strangers, and promises to take action from professors. Not all of us were agreed on beliefs, nor on how to take the election’s results, but we were united then. Through our grief we tried to understand each other. On our small liberal arts college campus, you see the same faces every day. You probably end up meeting just about everyone at some point. This dialogue reaffirmed our sense of community, our sense of family. That’s what family does, we promise to support each other even if we disagree with each other, and that’s what happened that night. We promised to try to understand, and be mindful of the pain all of us were in.

November 9th, 2016 is a date I will never forget for two reasons. First, because it is the first day in my life that I have been afraid for myself because I am a woman, because I am disabled, and because I am bisexual. I know millions of people around the world have lived in fear their entire lives because of the minorities they are in, but this is the first time in my life that I’ve experienced such fear. I am both frightened by what is to come and humbled by the fact that I’ve lived for twenty years before feeling something like this. Secondly, I will remember this day because of the way it brought people together. It’s one of those “restoring my faith in humanity” moments. When people you don’t even know can cry with you and offer comfort to you, that’s when a small community becomes even stronger.

In the days that followed, we wore safety pins, we continued the conversation, we marched in a protest, and we stood by each other. I don’t know what will happen over the next four years, but there is one thing I know for certain: if we stay together, we will survive this. Somehow. Someway.
Cover Image Credit: Savannah Lorenc

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Terrors Behind "Toddlers & Tiaras" - Beauty Pageants Need To Go!

Why Honey Boo Boo is not the girl we should be idolizing...

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Honey Boo Boo is famous for her extravagant persona, extreme temper tantrums, overwhelming attitude, and intense sassiness. All of these qualities are shared by many other young girls who participate in beauty pageants - not just in "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" but also in TLC's notorious "Toddlers & Tiaras," a show that depicts the horrors of little girls who have dedicated their childhood to winning the crown.

These shows, and the pageants they glorify do nothing but force girls to grow up too quickly, send negative messages to viewers and participants and pose health risks for the girls involved.

Therefore, beauty pageants for young girls should be abolished.

The hypersexualization that takes place in these pageants is staggering. Not only are young girls' minds molded into having a superficial view on beauty, but they are also waxed, spray-tanned, given wigs, retouched in pictures, injected with Botox and fillers, and painted with fake abs and even breasts.

Sexy is the goal, not cute. Girls of ages 2-12 wear skimpy clothing, accentuating only their underdeveloped bodies. A 4-year-old girl on "Toddlers and Tiaras" once impersonated Dolly Parton with fake breasts, another dressed as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (so basically, a prostitute), and another even pretended to smoke a cigarette to look like Sandy from Grease.

In Venezuela, people are so obsessed with pageants that they send their daughters to "Miss Factories," to train them to win. At these factories, underage girls undergo plastic surgery and hormone therapy to delay puberty in attempts to grow taller. In addition, they often get mesh sewn onto their tongues so that they are physically incapable of eating solid food. This idea of taking horrific measures to look slimmer is not unique to Venezuela. A former Miss USA explained that she would "slather on hemorrhoid ointment, wrap herself up with Saran wrap, and run on a treadmill with an incline for 30 minutes to tighten her skin and waist up." Many countries, including France and Israel have banned child beauty pageants because it is "hypersexualizing." Why has the US yet to follow in their footsteps?

Additionally, the pageants strip their young contestants of a childhood by basically putting them through harsh child labor. Oftentimes, girls as young as 18 months old participate in pageants. There is no way that a girl under 2 years old has the capacity to decide for herself that she wants to participate in a beauty pageant. Not to mention, education often takes a backseat in pageant girls' lives as long practice sessions interfere with sleep and homework. This causes long-term distress for the contestants, including widespread unemployment for former pageant girls.

Moreover, these pageants tie self-worth and self-esteem to attractiveness. They teach girls that natural beauty and intelligence are not enough, when in actuality they should be doing the opposite. In fact, 72% of pageant girls hire coaches to train girls to be more "attractive."

Finally, these pageants pose potent health risks for the girls competing. Not only do intense rehearsals interfere with their sleep cycles, but they are also impacted by the harmful methods taken to keep them awake. One example is Honey Boo Boo's "go go juice" - AKA a mixture of Mountain Dew and Red Bull. She is known for drinking this continuously throughout pageant days to stay awake and energetic - but the health risks associated with the drinks, let alone for such a young girl, are completely ignored.

And, the future health problems associated with pageantry cannot be looked past. Participating in beauty pageants as kids leads to eating disorders, perfectionism, depression - in fact, at least 6% suffer from depression while competing. "The Princess Syndrome," as Psychology Today calls it relates to a small study published in 2005 that showed that former childhood beauty pageant contestants had higher rates of body dissatisfaction. This sense of dissatisfaction can so easily be translated to more severe mental and physical health issues, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. The average BMI (Body Mass Index) of a Beauty Contestant in the US in 1930 was 20.8, which is universally in the middle of the "healthy" range. In 2010, it was 16.9, which is considered underweight for anyone.

So, despite the entertainment these shows and pageants provide, they should most definitely be stopped due to the immense amount of issues they cause for those involved and those who watch.

Although Honey Boo Boo is (sadly) considered one of America's sweethearts, her experience in pageantry has certainly not been a positive influence in her life nor in the lives of her fans - and this is the case for nearly all young pageant girls.

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