Let's Stop Thinking That Mardi Gras Is All About Naked Women

Let's Stop Thinking That Mardi Gras Is All About Naked Women

No, it's not just about beads, boobs, and booze. And yes, the "S" is silent.

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Everytime someone finds out I'm from New Orleans, Louisiana, the city home to Mardi Gras, they ask me if I've ever seen women flashing float riders for beads. I usually chuckle and say, "Every parade has its own environment. Some are more prone to that behavior, but others are more wholesome." And then I somehow start getting into the history of the carnival season, Mardi Gras Day, and everything that surrounds it, and their eyes start to glaze over. That's the most disappointing part of the interaction. So for those that believe they know what Mardi Gras is about, let's get into what the true meaning is- both from me and from friends and family that still call Louisiana "home".

Carnival is the season while Mardi Gras is a day.

I've heard it time and time again: "I'm going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras!" What they really mean is that they're going to New Orleans for the weekend before Mardi Gras to see parades. This isn't wrong, but technically, "Mardi Gras" is the last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. This year, it falls on March 5th and is always completely determined by the date of Easter. (I'll get into this more in a minute.)

The carnival season starts on January 6th. No matter what. Period.

Carnival season starts 12 days after Christmas day, on the Epiphany, and is the official end of the holiday season. The Epiphany marks a visit to baby Jesus by the three Kings or the Wise Men. This is why the Epiphany, January 6th, is the Feast Day of the Wise Men. Historically, this day would be as big of a celebration as Christmas day. (A Feast day is a day set aside to remember important people and events throughout the history of the Catholic faith.)

Carnival season was about eating as much as you could.

Carnival season runs from January 6th to the day before Ash Wednesday, Mardi Gras, because Ash Wednesday is the day that Lent begins. Lent was historically a time for fasting within the Catholic faith. Catholics used to fast for forty days and forty nights; from Ash Wednesday to Easter. This is why the day before lent is called "Mardi Gras." Mardi Gras literally means "Fat Tuesday," and the day before Mardi Gras is "Lundi Gras" or "Fat Monday." So Carnival season was a time to fill up as much as possible- and then some. Like more than Thanksgiving. This was weeks and weeks of eating and celebrating. Talk about having to unbutton your pants after a meal.

King Cakes are more than just "a cake with a baby."

The King Cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. A King Cake is an oval-shaped cross between a coffee cake and a French pastry. It's decorated in royal colors of purple, green, and gold, which signify "justice," "faith," and "power." These colors were chosen to resemble a jeweled crown, honoring the Wise Men who visited Jesus on the Epiphany. In the past, things like coins, beans, pecans, or peas were also hidden in each King Cake. Today, a plastic baby is placed underneath the cake as an ode to the visitation of baby Jesus. The person that receives the piece with the baby is named "King" for the day and is supposed to provide the next King Cake.

Mardi Gras is sooo much more than just New Orleans.

When people hear "Mardi Gras" they normally think of New Orleans. But think again. Mardi Gras happens all across the state of Louisiana, and even the world. The city of Lafayette, just two hours west of New Orleans, has Cajun Mardi Gras, while the capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, has a Mardi Gras ball. There's even a family-friendly Mardi Gras in Alexandria and Lake Charles. Mardi Gras is also celebrated in many locations in Europe, and Brazil is found to have massive celebrations every year!

Mardi Gras is NOT about naked women.

I asked two of my Louisiana-born friends, "What is something you'd want tourists to know about Mardi Gras?" Here are their answers:

"I think Mardi Gras is a time of year where everyone gets along. Even though most people think Mardi Gras can be wild and crazy, and it can be, [but] when you're at a parade, everyone just seems to be all fun and games and neighboring groups of people interact with each other. I think if you're at Mardi Gras with a good group of people, it's sure to be an amazing time." -Jamilynne Johnson, a native resident of Slidell, LA

"I would say that parades are actually more family-oriented than people believe, especially the day[time] parades. Mardi Gras for some people is as big of a holiday as Christmas. It is a holiday centered around joy, laughter, and family. Some people go to the same parade, sit in the same spot, and talk to the same people every year. Mardi Gras is a way to bring the community together because the best part of the parade is not the floats, it's the half-a-day you spent waiting for the floats. It's a season where everyone can forget about their troubles, spend time with their families, and make memories that will last a lifetime. What I would say to people is that Mardi Gras is not about who caught the coolest beads or the most stuffed animals, it's about dancing with strangers, eating amazing food, and hearing the same story from your grandpa that you've heard a million times. The people who celebrate Mardi Gras know that it's not what you catch at the parades, it's who you're catching stuff with." -Payton Haddican, a native resident of New Orleans, LA

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13 Summer Struggles Only Thick Girls Understand

Chafing. So much chafing.

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Summer is a lovely time. A time of cookouts, swimming, and sunny weather. But if you're a " thick girl," summer sometimes brings more unpleasantries than it does for slimmer women. No matter how beautiful and confident you are in your body, it can bring some struggles.

1. The living hell that is shorts-shopping

Step 1: Find the biggest size the store has.

Step 2: (If you can even get those on): Realize your stomach is being squeezed into the top, your butt is falling out of the back and your thighs are having the life squished out of them.

Step 3: Realize why winter isn't so bad.

2. And dealing with them even after finding a pair that "fits"

Nothing like taking a pair of shorts home you remember fitting you okay in the store and then walking for 45 seconds and pulling them out of your butt or crotch 17 times. Truly a magical experience.

3. And every bathing suit you try on shows more skin than you'd planned

Even the most conservative bathing suit turns into cleavage-city and a non-cheeky set of bottoms turns into a thong. I promise, older people glaring at me in my sexual bathing suit, I didn't mean for this to happen!

4. Chafing. So much chafing.

No better feeling than four minutes into wearing short shorts realizing that your inner thighs are literally tearing themselves apart. Body Glide and baby powder are a thick girl's No. 1 necessity.

5. Loving rompers. Rompers not loving you.

Rompers are made with short and skinny girls in mind. Heaven forbid you're not short, and heaven forbid you're not skinny. Rompers are like a mystical article of clothing that, no matter what, always just barely doesn't fit.

6. Imagining wearing a sundress with a strapless bra and just laughing

Of course, not all thick girls are well-endowed in the boob department, but if you are, you understand how hilarious the thought of you wearing a strapless bra truly is.

7. And bralettes are a thing of fantasy

Once again, bralettes are designed for a very specific body type. One that I do not fall into.

8. Feeling like you need to constantly defend yourself for dressing like you want to

There are so many posts and tweets and just general ideals that people have that certain sized women can't wear certain clothing. You shouldn't feel the need to defend yourself for wearing a cute crop top or a bikini, but you will.

9. And always feeling looked at when you're rocking your swimsuit

Yes, I see your judging eyes, and yes, they are making me feel like shit. It doesn't matter how confident you are in your body, people looking at you like you just killed somebody just because you're wearing something typically made for smaller women doesn't make you feel good.

10. Did I mention chafing?

I just felt like something so horrible couldn't just be mentioned once.

11. Online shopping for cute summer outfits and then none of them fitting you correctly

There's always the dreaded "one-size-fits-all" for plus-size women. As if there's just one way to be plus-size. No matter how much they promise online that it'll fit well, it won't.

12. Seeing tiny girls complaining about losing their "summer bodies"

So many tweets talking about choosing food over a summer body. So many profile pictures of traditionally skinny women. I'm not saying that thick girls are the only ones who can complain about their summer bodies, and thick girls do not have a monopoly one not feeling confident in their bodies. But it is hard to see those posts knowing that those women would be glorified in their swimwear while you'd be gawked at.

13. The "you go girl!" comments on your oh-so-brave bikini photos

Compliments are nice, and positive comments while wearing a bikini go a long way. But the dreaded "you go girl" comment just seems so condescending. Just treat me like anyone else you'd see wearing a bikini. I promise, I'd like to feel like that.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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6 Ways To Start Pre-Gaming Your Summer Plans Today

A few ways to help you prepare for summer.

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Summer is coming sooner rather than later and we all need to get ready for it.

1. Start making trip plans now.

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If you are wanting to do a getaway over the summer, I would suggest starting to plan for the trip now. The closer you get to the time in which you want to go, the higher the prices of plane tickets and rooms go up. Also planning ahead gives you the chance to pinpoint exactly how you want to spend your trip and not waste your time. Nothing is worse than going on a trip and being stuck at the hotel the whole time because you have no idea what is our there for you to do.

2. Buy sunscreen.

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Do you really want to end up like her? I don't think so. Even if you are the type of person with the mentality that you will only be out in the sun for a short period of time, it doesn't matter. We all need sunscreen. Our skin is the largest organ of our body and we need to take care of it. Think of it this way, do you want to have sunspots when you're old? Or would you rather maintain your youthful appearance for as long as you can?

3. Find a new hobby.

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Let's be honest here for a minute, the majority of us do absolutely nothing over summer break and feel no guilt for it. I have done this several times over the years, and I now look back and realize all the time I wasted not learning or doing something new. If you are working full-time, have summer school, or a summer internship this does not apply to you unless you have the time to do so.

For the rest of y'all, get up and learn something. Learn how to knit. Take a kickboxing class. Try out new hiking places. Start learning another language, or continue practicing the one you learned in school at places where the language is commonly used. Get outside of your comfort zone!

4. De-stress and dispose.

You are so close to summer sometimes it stresses you out trying to get everything done. You need to realize that summer isn't going anywhere and you will get there eventually. Take a deep breathe and keep going. What I like to do is start throwing out the paperwork from this semester that I know I will never use again, don't want, and papers that I don't plan on using for the upcoming final. Disposing of those papers helps me visualize that the semester is almost over.

5. Buy a new swimsuit.

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Before you go out and buy a bunch of new swimsuits, try your old ones on first and see if they fit. Sometimes you just need a new top to match the bottoms that you already have or vice versa. Also, if you know that you are not going to buy a swimsuit for the pool or beach several times throughout the summer, don't waste your money on a new swimsuit. The one from last year that you never wore will do just fine.

Save Money

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The simplest way to understand it is no saving = no money to spend during summer. If you have all kinds of different trips and things you want to do that cost a fee, it would be wise to start saving up for all of your other expenses that you would normally have to pay per month like insurance, phone, or a car payment. I will be in the car payment category since I just bought a new one a few weeks ago.

That being said, my first car payment is due the week I am in New York. I don't want my New York money to be used for a car payment, so I've been taking extra shifts at work to compensate. I have also started going through my closet and selling the items I don't want anymore. There are several resale stores and places online for you to sell your unwanted clothes and other items to put some extra cash in your pocket.

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