A Letter to Myself (To My College Self)

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Impromptu college photo shoots were the best.

Dear college me,

Remember high school freshman orientation when your principal said, “These are the best four years of your life”? He was clearly wrong. The best four years of your life are your college years.

I speak from a place far, far away—I come from the future. Great Scott!

part high quality future great back

Go figure, I just had to throw in a Back to the Future reference.). But since future me has been in the “real world” for a few years now, I can say from experience that so far, the college years were some of the best years of my life.

Sure, I know right now you’re probably reading this while procrastinating on a paper you should be writing for Honors, or Spanish, or Creative Nonfiction…or maybe all three. Right now you’re probably panicking about how busy you are, how there never seems like there’s enough time in the day to get all these papers done. You wish that the coffee shop on campus was open 24 hours (and just an FYI: you will miss those delicious coffees more than you can even imagine).

I’m probably being a bad influence right now, but keep procrastinating for a little longer and let me school you with some knowledge. Just kidding. But I do want to fill you in on what I wish I would have known during college:

1. It’s okay to stress out. What you’re doing right now? It’s normal. You’re a college student. You are an Honors student. You’re double-majoring. You’re writing for the college newspaper. You have a lot on your mind, and that’s perfectly okay. Taking steps to reduce stress, as long as it’s healthy, is always a good idea. It’ll be a few years before you heed my advice, but let me just tell you now: Yoga does wonders. Honestly. You’ll thank me later.

2. Enjoy the adventures. Throughout your college years, you will have opportunities to travel to new places around the country, and for the first time, you’ll finally set foot outside the United States, traveling to Greece.

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Ending college with a bang at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

Trust me: Right now, that will be the opportunity of a lifetime, and it will forever be one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen. Take it all in, take tons of photos, breathe, close your eyes, and appreciate the beauty of the world around you. You’ll remember these moments for years to come.

3. Life post-college is just as confusing/stressful/complicated/weird as college life is. No, even in your mid-20s, you still won’t have life “figured out.” Will we ever have it figured out? Who knows. But what I do know is that life will take you to places you never thought you’d end up (like New Jersey and New York City).

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Sunset at the most beautiful beach in Ocean City, New Jersey.

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Walking along the Brooklyn Bridge to catch the New York City Marathon.

Your life will probably always be unpredictable, but isn’t that what makes life thrilling?

4. As a millennial, you and millions of other college grads around the country will deal with paying back student loans. 20-somethings everywhere are in the same boat as you are, so you don’t need to feel alone. Even though the idea of student debt is daunting, places like Earnest exist to help students refinance your loans. They also help students understand finances better, which is obviously important for all of us. Adulting outside of college is tricky, but finding the right resources to help you will only help you out in the long run, so no worries.

5. There is no timeline for chasing after your dreams. You may compare yourself to others around you, and in case you were wondering, you’ll compare yourself even more once you’re out of college, unfortunately. Social media plays into it because we only post what we want others to see. You’ll see people living lives that you’re slightly jealous of. You’ll wonder what you’re doing wrong. The answer: Nothing. You’re walking along the path that’s right for you. You’re taking steps towards where you want to be physically, mentally, and emotionally. Just know that comparing yourself to others is natural, but the path you are on is uniquely yours.

6. You are capable. I know you, and I know that voice of insecurity. Even if you don’t believe me right now, just know that you are capable of success, in whichever way that may be. You are capable of finding peace. You are capable of finding day-to-day happiness. You are capable of finding security—security in your identity, in your present life, in your future. Just know that right now where I am in life, I am on that journey towards achieving all of those things. Yes, there will be dark times that you may feel you won’t emotionally survive. But somehow, you will. The journey only continues, and you will walk on.

7. It’s okay to love yourself. Your college years will be the most inspiring years of your life (at least they have been so far), so please take advantage of these years. Relish in those moments of confidence, inspiration, and self love. Loving yourself isn’t vain—loving yourself is crucial to living with yourself. After some rocky years post-college, I know that. I live that. So I just want you to love yourself and be proud of it.

I’m sure right now it’s nearly midnight, so you should probably get back to the papers you’re procrastinating on. I know you might be a little bundle of nerves, but honestly, I think that’s just a part of the college experience. To be honest, I’m slightly jealous of you. Life outside of college is another world entirely, and even though I don’t miss the stress of college, I miss the atmosphere. So breathe it in, write in one of those fancy journals until your hand cramps up, drink too much coffee, and always say yes to movie nights with your friends down the hall. You’ll never, ever regret it. Just know that I love you. I always have, and I always will.

Love,

Future Me

college-5

All we can do sometimes is laugh our way through life.

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Dear Democrats

Dear Democratic partisans everywhere,

I’m gonna need you to take a seat. And to be quiet. For at least five minutes. Because America’s future depends on it. Yes, all you “rah-rah, stronger together, go go Hillary” Democrats who are enraged at the wrong people, sit down. Chill. I need to tell you something that may change your life, and I hope you’ll hear me out.

You are destroying the Democrats chances of winning ANY future elections.

Shhh, remember I asked for five minutes of silence? Please, hold your questions until the end.

shut up louis ck shh be quiet shhh

giphy.com

Blaming third party voters is destroying the Democratic Party.

Telling third party voters that they’re “exercising straight white privilege” (real quote…I’m not kidding) is destroying the Democratic Party.

Blaming Bernie supporters is destroying the Democratic Party.

Screaming about how anyone who voted for Trump is a racist, sexist, xenophobic, misogynistic asshole is destroying the Democratic Party.

Seriously. I’m not kidding, and I’m not exaggerating.

Think about it. Let’s go back in time, shall we? Remember the primaries? You may have even supported Bernie back then (bless your heart). Maybe you supported Hillary from the start (that I have some issues with, but we’ll let that go for now).

Do you remember the CNN and MSNBC propaganda against Bernie? The hundreds of articles attacking Bernie from the New York Times, Washington Post, Think Progress, and Slate (and dozens more)? Even if you weren’t a Bernie supporter, come on, you knew the whole “pie in the sky, he’s crazy, he’s an evil old socialist” arguments were just a load of crap. Deep down, even if you let their lies wash over you back then, you know they were just that: lies.

Let’s go to the town hall with Rachel Maddow in April. Hillary is leading in the primaries, and it’s becoming evident that she may win the nomination. But the primaries aren’t over yet. Maddow asks Hillary what she’ll do to win over Bernie supporters during a general election. What was Hillary’s answer? “But I have more votes than him.” And a bunch of gloating.

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She was visibly disgusted at the idea of earning the votes of Americans. (Side note: Watching this clip post-election is just amazing given the results).

How many Bernie supporters did she win over with that answer? My guess would be -3,000, roughly. As a Bernie supporter myself, that was the first time I knew, “I cannot vote for her. She literally just told me she will do NOTHING to win my vote.”

Now let’s recall the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia at the end of July. If you were watching CNN or any other mainstream outlet or reading a mainstream publication, you may not have heard much about the convention shenanigans.

“No TPP” chants were drowned out with “Hillary, Hillary” chants. Why didn’t the DNC want people chanting against the TPP? Could it be that their nominee had lobbied in favor of the TPP 45 times?

Videos surfaced of Bernie delegates’ seats at the convention being stolen from them. White noise machines were placed directly in the areas where Bernie delegates were seated. The media was pretending there was “unity” at the convention while Bernie supporters were protesting against Hillary Clinton. Bernie delegates were kicked out for having pro-Hillary signs, and other Bernie delegates’ signs were covered up with pro-Hillary signs. Bernie supporters constantly booed the mere mention of Hillary’s name (to be drowned out by “Hillary, Hillary” chants, as directed to do so by the DNC). So much for unity, right?

You may brush that off. “No big deal. Those supporters were just upset their candidate lost. Understandable.” Sure, that argument makes sense, and is pretty accurate. But if you don’t think the tension at the convention was a sign of things to come, then you just weren’t paying attention.

Throughout the general election, Hillary snubbed the progressive base. Her message was, “Look at the other guy! Don’t vote for him! Trump bad!” rather than explaining what she would do to help progressives (because she wasn’t going to do anything for progressives). She spent most of her time pointing at Trump and his faults rather than discussing what she would do in office. Why? Because she wouldn’t bring anything progressive to the White House.

Another sign she snubbed her base? Who was Hillary’s pick for Vice President? I’m sure you forgot already, because he’s that forgettable, but it was Tim Kaine. Since you forgot, obviously her pick was a mistake. Kaine was in favor of the TPP. Like Hillary, he was in the pocket of Wall Street donors. Also like Hillary, he was a dangerously conservative “Democrat.” When Hillary had the option of choosing someone progressive such as Elizabeth Warren, Hillary’s response was, “Nahhhhh, I’m cool. I don’t need a progressive VP. Come on over here, Tim!”

Part of a politician’s job is to win votes. Why do they campaign all over the state or the country, depending on what office they’re running for? They campaign to put their message out into the world in the hopes that people will hear it and support the message. Politicians campaign to win votes, and that’s the key idea here.

It’s not every day Americans’ job to vote. Voting is a right, not a job. It’s not American citizens’ job to support a candidate at all. Americans decide whether or not to support a particular politician based on what they hear and see. It’s not the citizen’s fault if they decide not to support the candidate. It’s the fault of the politician for not convincing the voter to support him/her.

I’m baffled when I hear people saying, “Anyone who didn’t vote has no right to complain,” and then five minutes later blame voter suppression laws pushed by Republicans as one of the main reasons Hillary lost. Don’t blame people who didn’t vote when many DID try to vote and were turned away by the very same voter suppression laws that you’re complaining about.

So after all of my ranting, do I think there is someone to blame for Hillary’s loss? Yes. And who do I blame? I blame…drum roll, please…Hillary Clinton! Shocker.

Think about it. We’ve had problems with people blaming the wrong factors for the Al Gore loss, but let’s look at the John Kerry loss to George W. Bush in 2004.

Did you blame third party voters or people who didn’t vote at all for Kerry’s loss? No. You most likely blamed John Kerry for not being a strong enough candidate.

The Al Gore loss was Gore’s fault. Yes, there were many factors that played into it, but the one to blame in an election loss, when it really comes down to it, is the candidate.

A myth has floated around for years that Ralph Nadar’s third party run cost Gore the election, and that myth has resurfaced this time around because history has repeated itself. Like in 2000, the Electoral College loser has won the popular vote. Yes, that sucks. But that’s not the point. Both in 2000 and in this election, more Democrats voted for the Republican candidate than voted third party. That’s a fact. 9% of Democrats voted for Donald Trump, and a whopping 11% of Democrats voted for George W. Bush in 2000. Even though more voters cast their ballots for third party candidates this election, Stein and Johnson, combined, received a little over roughly 4% of the vote.

So why aren’t Democratic loyalists yelling about Democrats who voted for the other guy? Because that doesn’t boost their egos. They need to find someone to blame, and it’s easier for them to blame those who voted for a more progressive candidate. It fits their narrative that third parties are evil and that Democrats are saints, no matter who the candidate is.

Even though I fully blame Hillary Clinton for losing, I do have someone else to blame for enabling her.

I blame the DNC.

I could go on and on about the faults of the DNC (but that’s for another blog post, because I could rant forever about that, obviously). But to be clear: It is a fact that the DNC and Hillary camp colluded with the media to attack Bernie and report propaganda, cheated by receiving debate questions early, and suppressed the vote during the primaries by fighting for closed primaries, fighting to keep independents out of the voting process, limiting the debate schedule, limiting polling places, and involving themselves in the primary voting schedule. If you think that the DNC is against voter suppression, you’re mistaken: They are only against it when it doesn’t benefit them. But when it does, they fight to suppress the vote just as much as Republicans do.

I blame the DNC for ignoring the thousands and thousands of people (many of them millennials) who showed up to Bernie rallies all over the country. The DNC attacked Bernie with inaccurate arguments like saying his ideas were “unrealistic.” The DNC concocted the idea of “Bernie Bros,” similar to Hillary’s failed attempt at fabricating “Obama Boys.” Who are “Bernie Bros” or “Obama Boys”? They are, according to pro-Hillary writers and team members, sexists who support Bernie or Obama over Hillary simply because they’re sexist.

To be clear: The reason people supported Bernie or Obama over Hillary was because they didn’t believe Hillary was a good candidate. Plain and simple. Were there the occasional Democratic voters who were sexist against her? Probably. But were there thousands, maybe millions of them? Hell no. Hell. To. The No. The millions of people who voted for Bernie over Hillary didn’t support Hillary because of her RECORD, not because of her gender.

Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War, an illegal war against a country that didn’t attack us, which has killed thousands of people and will cost trillions of dollars.

Hillary Clinton voted for the Patriot Act. She voted to virtually erase the Fourth Amendment.

Hillary Clinton has been flip flopping on the issue of gay marriage for decades.

Hillary Clinton has promoted fracking all over the world. During a debate in March, when asked if she supports fracking, Hillary gave a convoluted, obnoxiously rehearsed, nonsensical (and, frankly, bullshit) answer which basically concluded to say that, yes, she would continue to support fracking so that she wouldn’t upset her donors. Bernie, on the other hand, famously said, “My answer is a lot shorter. No, I do not support fracking.” Short, simple, and without bullshit.

Hillary Clinton claimed she wanted a $12 national minimum wage before flipping to support Bernie’s $15 proposal.

Hillary Clinton has spoken quite negatively about universal health care and universal college (and progressive ideas in general).

And, probably most famously, Hillary has lobbied 45 times in favor of the TPP. Even though Donald Trump said it, it’s actually true that Hillary used to call it “the gold standard.” Because of Bernie, Hillary became more careful about her TPP-talk, but don’t kid yourself: She’s still in favor of the TPP.

Given all of these facts, calling anyone who supports Bernie over Hillary a sexist is, at this point, a complete joke. Note: sadly, while trying to find an article to cite about this fact, most of what I found were sloppy, pathetic articles about “Bernie Bros” and how sexist it was for Bernie to even run against a woman, courtesy of everyone from the Washington Post to Vox).

After this election, as progressives and Democrats, we are all hurting. We are all angry. We are all scared. We are vulnerable. And while dealing with these emotions, we all want to blame someone.

But if we blame the wrong factors, we will hurt the Democratic Party.

Blaming those who Hillary snubbed for not voting for her is missing the point. Hillary and the DNC spit in the faces of millions of progressives. What did they expect to happen? Why would millions of disenfranchised voters show up in droves to vote for someone who essentially said, “I will not fight for you, I will not support you, and I will simply expect you to bow down and vote for me”? The most Hillary did was concede to Bernie (not without kicking and screaming the entire way) on a couple of issues, like the $15 minimum wage and language to fight more strongly against climate change, for the Democratic platform.

Blaming American citizens who voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or sitting out the election is not only an inaccurate argument: It’s also a waste of time, and it’s only hurting the party.

Why, you ask? Because you’re helping Trump in winning a second term.

Think about it: Do you think shaming millions of people who didn’t vote for Hillary will win them over into voting for a Democrat in 2020? Do you think writing whiny Facebook statuses saying “Third party voters have no right to complain!!!! #StrongerTogether #ImStillWithHer #ImWithHer #Hillary2020” is going to win over ANYONE who didn’t vote for Hillary?

No. You know what you’re doing? You’re doing the same shit Hillary did. You’re alienating progressives. You’re spitting in their faces. You’re ignoring the fact that Hillary lost the Electoral College to the most disliked candidate in election history. You’re ignoring the fact that before the election, Hillary Clinton was the No. 2 most disliked candidate in election history.

With the two most disliked presidential candidates being pinned up against each other, what did you expect to happen? You expected Hillary to win in a blowout? When she was down in the polls a week before the election? If you truly believed she would win in a landslide, then not only were you not paying attention to the election, but I’d venture to say you were asleep for about a year and a half. Yes, most of us assumed she would win, but no one who was paying attention thought it would, by any means, be a landslide.

If you continue to shame third party voters or people who didn’t vote, then you are just asking for Trump’s second term. Now is the time for the Democratic Party to become more progressive. Now is the time for voices like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Nina Turner, Tulsi Gabbard, and Keith Ellison (who was laughed at for saying that Trump should be taken seriously) to be the majority of the party, the voices that are the loudest. If the party continues to prop up corrupt, establishment candidates, then they are handing Trump a second term on a silver platter.

Now is the time to be joining together and learning from mistakes. We must work together to pick up the pieces. The Democratic Party is in shambles, but there is hope. And the hope is with the progressive voices.

All I ask is for everyone who wants someone to blame for this election disaster to stop blaming those who aren’t at fault. Stop blaming people who you need to be reaching out to in order to win future elections. Yes, we know who to blame. It’s those at the DNC for their cheating, corruption, and embarrassing miscalculations. But don’t forget: In the end, Hillary Clinton lost because of Hillary Clinton.

The Democratic Party needs to be the party of unity again. The party of progression. The party of the people. The every day American citizens. I’ve believed in this party my entire life. And I still believe in it. The party seems to have lost its way, but I believe it can be the party of the progressives once again.

Sincerely yours,

A progressive

A Lazy Girl’s Guide to Blogging

Whoops, I was taking selfies instead of blogging.

Whoops, I was taking selfies instead of blogging.

In my first three years of blogging, I have gone through epic blogging lulls of laziness. I have abandoned my poor blog for far too long, too many times. Sometimes I’m busy. Sometimes I’m brainstorming. Sometimes I’m just lazy. Let’s be real.

As a lazy girl (who has come up with plenty of excuses), I would like to present a guide to blogging for all the lazy girls out there:

1. Brainstorm tons of ideas, but don’t write them down. It’s like a game. The “Will I remember that brilliant idea in half an hour?” game. Guess what? You will lose basically 99.999% of the time. But it’s fun to test your memory skills.

Aw man, I forgot all my brilliant blog ideas! Oh well. Let's take another selfie.

Aw man, I forgot all my brilliant blog ideas! Oh well. Let’s take another selfie.

2. Watch YouTube videos for inspiration. Too many videos. Wait, it’s midnight? Aw man, I should go to bed. I’ll blog tomorrow.

Source: viralcrawler.com

Source: viralcrawler.com

By the way, here are some of my favorite blog channels to watch instead of blogging:

The Young Turks

Secular Talk

Jenna Marbles (classic, of course)

3. Why not tweet at one of your favorite YouTubers? Spent too much time crafting a witty tweet. Become too happy when said YouTuber favorites said tweet, and follows you on Twitter.

Can I just say I was pretty stoked when this happened?

Can I just say I was pretty stoked when this happened?

4. Thinking about writing a blog post? Why not take a walk instead? It will not only help with brainstorming, but you will also forget all your ideas along your walk, and you’ll forget your plans to blog anyway.

No makeup? No problem!

No makeup? No problem!

5. Make yourself busy. Friends, work, school, and other activities are obviously time-consuming. Blogging is just something else to do. Don’t worry, you’ll get back to it. Eventually.

Source: pinterest.com Basically my logic.

Source: pinterest.com
Basically my logic.

6. Spread the word that you’re making a comeback. Tweet it, Instagram it, Facebook it, tell your friends.

Source: youtube.com

Source: youtube.com

7. Now you have to stick to your word. No more procrastinating.

Source: elitefitnessmentoring.com

Source: elitefitnessmentoring.com

8. Drink coffee. Lots of coffee. Don’t like coffee? Yes you do. No, you do. You like coffee.

Source: dreamatico.com Coffee makes my life just a little brighter.

Source: dreamatico.com
Coffee makes my life just a little brighter.

9. Write like you’ve never written before. You’ve got this. When in doubt, include more pictures. People like pictures.

Source: blogs.montclair.edu

Source: blogs.montclair.edu

10. Refer back to this list the next time you’re going through the cycle of laziness. You’re not alone. Trust me.

In the meantime, hit up a baseball game or two.

In the meantime, hit up a baseball game or two.

Announcement: New Feminism Blog With Modern Day Artemis!

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Hooray for feminists!

Good news, everyone! (Did you all read that in Professor Farnsworth’s voice from Futurama? I hope so!)

For a while, fellow blogger, Modern Day Artemis (check out her blog!) and I have been discussing the creation of a new blog we wanted to start. We both have an interest in feminism, and decided to dedicate a blog on Tumblr to the topic of feminism.

Our blog is entitled “Why I Am A Feminist,” and our mission is to have a platform for feminists everywhere, all over the world, to share their stories and express their reasons for why they are feminists.

As it grows, we hope to hear voices from many different countries, all coming together with a common mission: to spread the word about the importance of feminism in our lives. From America to South Africa, feminism is important for equality not just for women, but for everyone.

If you’re a feminist, check out our blog, and tell your friends. If you’re not a feminist, still check out our blog and tell your friends. You know you want to. I believe that education is crucial in gaining awareness of things we do not understand, so I hope that our blog will help those who don’t understand feminism to gain a bit of insight.

I wrote a blog post dedicated to why I need feminism a few months back, and I believe that I need feminism in my life. I believe that the more voices we have speaking out, the better. Speak out for what you believe in, and as voices join together, the world will hear us.

Who cares about beauty? (Advertisers make girls feel ugly)

Source: lisapetrilli.com Are girls vain just because they feel pretty?

Source: lisapetrilli.com
Are girls vain just because they feel pretty?

I wrote a post a while ago about beauty and why I think society’s obsession with women achieving unrealistic standards of beauty is dangerous. This topic is fascinating to me, and I’ve realized that I could write more posts about the topic of beauty. It’s complex, subjective, and broad. Since I can’t write just one blog post on the topic of beauty, I’ve decided to break the topic into a series of blog posts.

I’ve created a new category on my blog, called Who Cares About Beauty. I’ll be covering topics that I’m interested in at the moment. The topic for this post was inspired by blogger Grace Curly and her post Pretty.

For this post, I wanted to focus on the problem with beauty in advertising.

Grace Curly’s post got me thinking: “Why are women told to be pretty by advertisers who make us feel ugly?”

First of all, let’s find a working definition for the rest of this post. According to dictionary.com‘s first definition, pretty means:

“Pleasing or attractive to the eye, as by delicacy or gracefulness.”

Throughout this post, I’m referring to this definition of pretty. I’m also mainly referring to America’s definitions of beauty, because beauty is subjective according to country we are studying.

After reading Grace Curly’s post, I realized that in our society, pretty girls hear mixed messages. Women in general are told by the media that we should be striving to be pretty, but advertisements widely highlight women’s “flaws” in hopes that women will buy their products to fix these “flaws.”

Source: galleryhip.com Problem with this ad: Perfection is unachievable. It sets us up for failure.

Source: galleryhip.com
Problem with this ad: Perfection is unachievable. It sets us up for failure.

However, what happens when a woman truly feels that she’s pretty?

Source: pinterest.com Women are called "vain" if they seem confident in their looks.

Source: pinterest.com
Women are called “vain” if they seem confident in their looks.

Mean Girls is the perfect example that highlights women verbalizing their insecurities and shaming girls who display confidence and contentment in their looks. I’ve noticed that even in real life, it’s become the norm for girls to tear themselves down, and girls do this in daily conversations with one another:

Source: buzzfeed.com Oh you know, just girl bonding time.

Source: buzzfeed.com
Oh you know, just girl bonding time.

In my opinion, discussing my insecurities in depth with friends is a waste of time. Sure, it’s healthy to admit to others that we’re not perfect (no one is), but what’s the point of complaining about what we dislike in ourselves? It solves nothing. We can’t change most of our features unless we go to drastic measures like plastic surgery, so why bother complaining?

Where did this vocal self-hatred in women even come from?

My belief? Advertising.

Think about it: Advertisers want to sell products. Companies want consumers to feel like they “lack” something because this will tell the consumers to go out and buy the product to “give” them something they don’t have. All companies use this technique.

With clothing, makeup, and other advertisements with women as the target audience, this technique is taken to a dangerous level. Women are told that they “lack” pretty hair, and so they need this shampoo:

Source: pixshark.com

Source: pixshark.com

Or that they need to buy all sorts of makeup to hide their “flaws”:

Source: nola.com

Source: nola.com

With advertisers everywhere telling women that they are not good enough and that they need their products in order to improve their looks, they are setting them up to feel insecure.

Keeping that in mind, it makes sense that women are labeled “vain” if they feel pretty. But is that fair?

Source: mrmen.wikia.com

Source: mrmen.wikia.com

First of all, what is the definition of “vain”? According to dictionary.com‘s definition, the term means:

“Excessively proud of or concerned about one’s own appearance, qualities, achievements, etc.; conceited.”

While having an obsession with one’s appearance is unhealthy, and it’s frustrating to deal with a person who’s conceited, I believe that pretty girls are labeled “vain” not because they are actually showing signs of vanity, but simply because they are pretty.

Advertisers try to keep women feeling insecure because that is the way they are able to gain consumers. If all women were completely secure with themselves, they may not need the advertisers’ products to the excess that they buy them now.

Today, advertisers seem to have picked up on the fact that their tactics are often unhealthy and cause negative thoughts for some consumers. Some companies, like Dove, for example, have begun to use more positive messages in their ads.

Source: chippersengl.wordpress.com

Source: chippersengl.wordpress.com

Advertisers are finally starting to come around to the idea that women cannot all look the same. But more companies need to begin promoting more positive messages like this. Women are still widely being told by society that they are not “enough,” and so women are still made to believe that if they feel pretty, they are “vain.”

Source: southlemon.com

Source: southlemon.com

I believe that not only do advertisers have to continue to promote healthy self-esteem in women, but women also have to start becoming allies. Not just with each other, but with ourselves. Tearing ourselves down with negativity does nothing but make us feel worse. Why not celebrate what we love about ourselves? I believe that does a lot more good for ourselves, and for other women in the world.

We are enough. You are enough. Who cares what advertisers say? You should feel pretty without being ashamed of it. We are all pretty, and we shouldn’t listen to those who tell us otherwise.

Too much information: Is blogging our lives “over-sharing”?

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Source: huffingtonpost.com

My blog started off, in its earliest stages, as a place to post my poetry. As it continued to evolve, I tried new techniques. I wrote about current events, music, and movies. However, I left most of my true emotions out. My blog was positive, void of my personal feelings, thoughts, and experiences. I wrote what I thought people wanted to read.

Somewhere along the way, my blog became a safe place. A place for me to vent, to be honest, and to receive feedback from people who not only understood where I was coming from, but appreciated and related to what I wrote.

I felt less alone, and proud of my writing. Proud of my honesty. Proud that my blog was more bold than when I published that first post. My posts are real because I’m going through what I blog about currently. When I feel something, I blog it. I write it in the way I want. My blog has now become more personal than it’s ever been.

But is that bad? Are there topics that should be “off-limits”? Where do we draw the line?

Is my blog full of sunshine, rainbows, and roses? Not all the time. Is that bad? I don’t think so.

Am I satisfied with my writing when I publish my blog posts? Absolutely. I wouldn’t post them if I wasn’t.

I have read other bloggers who’ve written posts about past relationships, and I commend them for being honest and venting their true feelings. It’s my belief that writing is therapy. WordPress is a community, and I have gained so much happiness from voicing my thoughts to the blogging community and receiving support in return.

Is there such a thing as over-sharing? Probably. To me, I believe that over-sharing is when someone divulges too much information in an unnecessary way. But for me, if the information is shared in more artistic or creative ways, it’s not necessarily over-sharing.

I believe that blogging is a place to write about personal matters creatively. We can tell our stories, sharing as many details as we want, and gain feedback from others.

I’ve read beautifully-written blog posts, and many of them stand out in my mind because they were honest. Personal. These bloggers told their stories without holding back. Without fear. They were not ashamed of what they went through, and it made the writing that much easier to relate to.

Is that over-sharing? In my opinion, no.

Blogging has become one of my forms of therapy. I have gotten positive feedback from my more personal posts, and it gave me the confidence to be honest. To write about things on my mind. To express problems in our society. To write about topics that aren’t sunshine, rainbows, and roses. Breakups, for example.

Should these topics be off-limits? Should I feel free to write about breakups, counseling, politics, and feminism? Or are these topics “too much information”?

I believe that as writers, we should be free to express ourselves in a way that’s comfortable for us. If I feel comfortable sharing details of a breakup and actively want to blog about it, I should feel free to do so.

For me, sharing some details of my experiences has helped me to cope with those situations. If I felt that I was “over-sharing,” I wouldn’t have published those posts. Why should I be ashamed with what happened to me? I don’t think I should be. I’m writing posts because I feel inspired to write. That’s it. As a writer, it’s as simple as that. I don’t believe in stifling my creativity, censoring it, or “toning it down.” That defeats the purpose of blogging; at least for me, it would.

I believe that every blogger is different. We all have our comfort zones, our go-to blogging topics, our life stories. If we censored our writing, sticking to limited, approved topics that are “safe” from judgement, wouldn’t have stifle our growth as writers? Where is the fun in only writing within the confines of what’s safe, and probably boring?

WordPress is a diverse world. There are bloggers for just about every topic. If we all censored ourselves, we wouldn’t have the diversity that we do. As long as we’re comfortable with what we’re blogging, that’s what matters. I don’t write for other people, and I never have. I write for myself first, and if others read it, then that gives me more feedback and inspiration for blog posts I write in the future.

But I’m the only person I’m writing for.

Source: nikki-blevins.blogspot.com

Source: nikki-blevins.blogspot.com

Victim shaming: What’s up with that?

Source: quickmeme.com

Source: quickmeme.com

Recently, I’ve been interested in writing about the silly things I read on the internet. Lately, I noticed a trend of people writing blog posts or comments within articles that make it clear they blame victims of bullying or rape. Normally, I ignore the stupid that is The Internet. *But today, I decided, “What the hell, let’s expose the stupid!”

[*DISCLAIMER: My blog post is in no way stating that the First Amendment should limit hateful comments. I noticed a blog post in response to my post What’s with all the hate, and there was the misunderstanding that I claimed people shouldn’t be allowed to say what they want. Trust me, that’s not what I’m saying. If you want to stupid, go ahead and stupid. Just know that your stupid may or may not be blogged about.]

There are two specific examples of stupid that I want to focus on. Here is the first:

1. A blogger posted about model Hannah Davis’ scandalous Sports Illustrated magazine cover. She’s in a bikini, and posing provocatively, like all the models of the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated do.

What conclusions does this blogger draw from a woman posing in a bikini for a swimsuit edition of a magazine? Not something I would have thought of:

“I might also point out that this is part of the reason girls get date-raped.  I know some feminists don’t want to hear this, but it’s unavoidable.  Our culture is constantly sending men the message that women/girls want sex all the time, getting men all charged up.  So, then when men try to give women/girls what they seem to want, what happens?  It gets reported as rape because it turns out they didn’t really want it all along.  That’s really confusing (and very unfortunate for everyone involved).  Whores and their greedy, corporate pimps are ruining it for the rest of us.”

All I can say is that this blogger is so very, very confused about rape, consent, and women in general. Let’s enlighten the poor guy. I’ll respond to his quote line-by-line:

“I might also point out that this is part of the reason girls get date-raped.”

No. Just no. A woman posing on the cover of a magazine has nothing to do with women all over the world being raped. Absolutely nada. You don’t hear men claiming that Abercrombie models are responsible for men having tons of sex, do you?

“I know some feminists don’t want to hear this, but it’s unavoidable.”

Actually, no one wants to hear this, because it’s incorrect. Next.

“Our culture is constantly sending men the message that women/girls want sex all the time, getting men all charged up.”

The fact that women have sex or want to gets men horny? Whatever you say. Our culture also sends the message that men want sex all the time (more so than women), but it doesn’t get women “all charged up.” Whatever that means.

“So, then when men try to give women/girls what they seem to want, what happens?”

That depends. If you’re raping some girl on the street because you think she wants it, you better be penalized (I was about to say your ass better be in prison, but when I thought about it, I realized that you don’t often hear about rapists being imprisoned. Why? Because 97% of rapists receive no punishment. Yet another reason why I need feminism.). So when you ask, “What happens?,” unfortunately, if you rape a woman, not much may actually happen to you.

But the blogger seems to believe otherwise:

“It gets reported as rape because it turns out they didn’t really want it all along.”

WHAT?!? Would you honestly be in shock if you raped a woman and she, in fact, reported that rape? This guy seriously needs to read this post about consent and educate himself. It’s really not that complicated to figure out if someone wants sex or not. But he makes it clear that he’s uneducated in Consent 101:

“That’s really confusing (and very unfortunate for everyone involved).”

Confusing to figure out if you’re about to have consensual sex? No, not confusing at all. Confusing that you were accused of rape when you raped someone? Nope, not confusing. Unfortunate? For the woman who was raped, hell yeah that’s unfortunate. But unfortunate to the man who raped her? He’d be getting what he deserved. Then, onto the wonderful conclusion:

“Whores and their greedy, corporate pimps are ruining it for the rest of us.”

Wait a minute. What do “whores” and their “greedy, corporate pimps” have anything to do with you figuring out what is rape and what is consensual sex? Nothing. It makes absolutely no sense to blame a woman posing on the cover of a magazine for men raping women. The two do not correlate at all.

It sounds to me like the author is just horny and that maybe he feels guilty for that? I can’t think of why else he would blame a girl on a magazine for rape. I can’t figure out why he would claim that men should be able to thrust themselves aggressively onto women, even when it’s unwanted. My assumption is that he clearly doesn’t understand what consent is.

Now, onto the second stupid Internet situation:

2. While perusing iFunny (an app with usually humorous pictures), I saw a photo saying that in order for cyber bullying to stop, the victims just have to shut down their computers. While it obviously isn’t just that simple to erase cyber bullying, I wasn’t offended by the picture itself. But I saw a comment (yes, I know, the dreaded comments section) that was quite heavy on the stupid:

“So funny these idiots say shit like ‘punish the bully’s, not the victims’ GUESS WHAT!!! Bullying in ALL forms exists ONLY because victims exist..How the hell you gonna force teach a bully not to be a bully. Easier to teach a victim not to be a victim and bully’s will CEASE to exist. GUARANTEED [sic].”

For real? Okay, Mr. Smartypants, how are we going to teach victims not to be victims? The fault in his thinking is that he’s assuming that victims are choosing to be victims, which is flat-out wrong. No one wants to be bullied, just like no one wants to be raped. Furthermore, just because people are taking precautions doesn’t mean that bullies and rapists are going to “knock it off.” They’ll just keep assaulting them, and then find other victims. Shaming the victims will only magnify the issues.

The problem with both of these writings I saw is that they both shame rape victims and victims of bullying. Both of these people are saying either, “Women are whores who want sex and rape is confusing!” or “Just teach victims to stop it!” In both cases, they are excusing the actual perpetrators, and completely blaming the ones who have been physically, emotionally, and mentally damaged. Like these victims need anymore shit in their lives.

While the phrase “Live and let live” is a blissful idea to live by so that we can ignore the negativity in the world, it can be difficult to do that when these ideas travel from the internet to the government. There are politicians who have voiced their completely idiotic opinions on rape, and it’s horrifying that these people are actually in positions of power. For example:

Source: outofstepper.com

Source: outofstepper.com

Seriously. He seriously said that. Oh God help us.

Sure, we can live and let live, but that’s not going to erase stupidity, or even hate. I’d rather voice my concerns with society than ignore them and pretend that the problems don’t exist. What’s the harm in speaking out?

Lily Allen: Humor Done Right

True Life: I’m obsessed with Lily Allen.

Seriously, she is so cool. Lily Allen’s music is ironic, witty, and hilarious. In conclusion, to me she’s a talented satirical songwriter.

I’m so obsessed with Lily Allen that her song “Hard Out Here” inspired my post 15 Reasons why it’s hard out here for a b*tch.

In my last post, I critiqued Thought Catalog author Nicole Mullen’s article “Can We Please Stop Pretending Like We Don’t All Have Racist Songs We Sing In Private?” for its racist themes. After some discussion of the piece, I realized that the author had tagged her article as “humor.”

Source: memegenerator.net

Source: memegenerator.net

That was news to me. See, the key with humor is that it has to be funny. When I read Mullen’s article, I believe she left out the funny. Maybe she tagged it in the category by mistake?

I would advise Mullen in the future to pay attention to someone like Lily Allen and take note. Satire is not easy, which is why I rarely write it. I’d rather accidentally be funny than try it and fail miserably.

Satire is written with absurdity. That’s why a satirical news website like The Onion is so successful.

Lilly Allen’s “Hard Out Here” works because it’s outrageous and in-your-face with its vulgarity. The song discusses the dangerous ways women are still viewed in society today. While the themes are deep and serious, her humor drives the point home that “it’s hard out here for a bitch.”

Allen’s vulgarity works because it’s ironic. She uses derogatory language to illustrate the negative ways in which women are often discussed in the media.

Her lyrics addressing the unhealthy and narrow expectations women face are humorous in the fact that they’re truthful despite the absurdity:

“If you’re not a size six, then you’re not good looking
Well, you better be rich, or be real good at cooking
You should probably lose some weight ’cause we can’t see your bones
You should probably fix your face or you’ll end up on your own.”

While sexism isn’t funny (it’s actually a bunch of BS, to be honest), Allen approached the topic with satire, and that allows for a different perspective and a new way for society to have dialogue about feminism and its importance today.

Could Mullen have taken a similar approach and possibly written a funny article? Maybe. But her attempt was lackluster in my opinion. I had no idea she was attempting satire. I simply thought it was some nut who truly believed that free speech is for racist rants.

I don’t think that we should limit ourselves with the topics we write about. Anyone can write something controversial if he or she wants to. Writing is a world in which we can explore and dig deep. It’s a way of understanding the world we live in.

However, when tackling hot button issues and current events that touch a nerve with people, a writer should show tact and have the right intentions before publishing a piece. Mullen seemed to fail in this regard. I believe that her attempt at a satirical piece was insensitive because her intentions were not clear. While she may have been attempting to make light of the racist chant scandal with the fraternity members in Oklahoma, it appeared to me as a racist intent. If I didn’t know she was writing satire, then I’m sure there were others who didn’t know, either.

This is the main problem I have with the articles Thought Catalog has been publishing as of late. It seems to have become a free-for-all and that the work is a bit sloppy. The articles published are not only questionable in quality, but also worrisome with their intent. While I used to see Thought Catalog as a website that had more upbeat articles, now it’s become a mash-up of unpredictable content with no consistency.

So, to Nicole Mullen, if you ever discover this post:

Source: memecrunch.com

Source: memecrunch.com

Blogging Hints and Tips: What Do You Want To Know?

Do you have questions about blogging? Ask Suzie over at her blog, Suzie81 Speaks! See her original post for more information. You can leave your questions in the comment section of her post, email, or tweet her with what you’d like to learn about blogging.

Suzie Speaks

image

I’ve been emailed many times over the last few weeks with requests for blogging tips and advice. As I had a little bit of time free last night, I sat down and wrote everything I could think of that I deemed to be useful, and then proceeded to edit it and go through the word count.

It was over 4,000 words long.

As I realise that most people don’t have the time, nor the patience to read an epic post of that length, I have decided to break it down into a series over the space of several weeks. This would coincide perfectly with my blogiversary (I don’t care if you don’t like that word, I’m using it anyway) at the beginning of April and would be a great opportunity for me to be able to share what I’ve learnt from my little adventures over the last two years.

To…

View original post 68 more words

Why I’m no longer reading Thought Catalog

Evidently, I’m not the only one who no longer wants to read Thought Catalog. Even though it’s one of the 50 most-visited sites in America, it has still encountered backlash. So much backlash, in fact, that the Washington Post did an in-depth story investigating the website.

Thought Catalog, which I used to read from time to time, seems to have become a popular outlet for publishing hateful, poorly-written opinions to the masses. The website publishes a variety of articles from numerous authors, and admittedly, not all of them are negative. However, the racist, homophobic, and ignorant opinions have tainted Thought Catalog, and after I read the Washington Post’s article, it’s clear that I’m not the only one who thinks so.

The website has been in hot water over articles it posted in the past, and that I thankfully didn’t read. But there was an article Thought Catalog posted yesterday that provoked this post I’m currently writing, and it’s the one I want to focus on.

The article-in-question is entitled, “Can We Please Stop Pretending Like We Don’t All Have Racist Songs We Sing In Private?” by Nicole Mullen. Her article is a response to the SAE fraternity members at Oklahoma State University who recited a racist chant and were caught on tape.

The title should be reason enough to stop reading Thought Catalog. The title alone is problematic, not just for its ignorance, but also for the simple fact that it’s a crappy title. Thought Catalog is so successful not because it publishes quality content, but because it publishes “click bait.” This term to me gives a negative connotation, meaning that the title is crafted specifically for the number of clicks. Instead of writing quality content, the site is churning out articles with catchy or controversial titles, but the content within the article is questionable at times.

The first problem with the content of the article itself is that she claims that because the fraternity brothers sang the song instead of speaking it, that this alleviates the controversy.

It doesn’t.

She then goes on to say, “Can we all just stop pretending like we don’t have racist songs that we sing when no one is looking?”

Source: imgarcade.com

Source: imgarcade.com

Okay, so there are two problems with the question she’s asking:

1. The fraternity members weren’t singing this “when no one was looking.” There was a whole crew of them singing the racist song. So it wasn’t one person alone in his shower singing the “Racist Slur Anthem for Ignorant Fraternity Members.”

2. Who sings racist songs like that in the first place? Like ever? I don’t know about you, but when I sing in the shower, it’s not usually a racist-filled chant that sounds as if it was written in the 1860’s. Usually I stick to singing Adele.

If you think the author’s problems stopped there, think again my friend. After I read this next paragraph, I was THISCLOSE to losing my faith in humanity:

“It’s human nature to express things through art, and sorry guys, but music is art. Racism is natural, and while it’s something that we should correct, if we suppress it in our regular behavior it has to come out through artistic endeavors. Think about all the idle swastikas you’ve doodled in your downtime. Think about how many times you’ve made up silly little parody songs in your head that use racial slurs.”

I will agree with the author that music is art. Yes, she’s got one thing right in her article so far.

Source: quickmeme.com

Source: quickmeme.com

However, her accuracies within the article stop there.

She claims that when someone draws swastikas and writes songs with racial slurs, it’s “art”?

Source: makeameme.org

Source: makeameme.org

The only people I know who actually did that were, in fact, racists.

For the record: no, just because you doodle anti-Semitic symbols on your notebook or sing songs containing the n-word doesn’t mean you’re a tortured artist. It means you’re a racist.

Guess what? Directly after the author states that swastikas and racial slurs in songs are examples of “art,” she then regales us with stories proving that she’s a racist. Do I dare put her horrific examples in block quotes? Just for illustrative purposes, I’ll let her direct quotes speak for themselves:

“There’s four Chinese people that work at the grocery store near my house, and whenever I see them, in my head I play a different little theme song for each one. And yeah, all of their songs are incredibly racist. One of them is just that song from the old Chips Ahoy commercials – the ones where the melody is Sing, Sing, Sing and the lyrics are all about Chips Ahoy cookies, but I’ve replaced “Chips” with a racial slur. Sometimes I’ll just hum the melody in their face. They don’t know the lyrics so they don’t know its offensive. They just think I like jazz. It feels good and it makes me laugh.

And when I see Muslims? Hell, if I’m not terrified and scanning the area for the nearest police officer, I’m playing a little tune in my head that I imagine would lure a snake out of a basket. Either that or one of the songs from Aladdin.”

Source: memeaddicts.com

Source: memeaddicts.com

This author is claiming that humming a song in people’s faces (when the tune has racial slurs against the people she’s targeting) is acceptable. Why does she claim that it makes her feel good and make her laugh? My theory is that it’s because she’s insecure and angry, and so she’s taking out her anger on others. Humming a racist tune in front of people makes her feel superior somehow.

Her racism even extends to Muslims, when she claims that whenever she sees a Muslim, she looks for a police officer (which connotes that she’s making an assumption that the Muslim is a criminal, maybe a terrorist).

I have no words. I just. Guys. I can’t even.

Source: quickmeme.com

Source: quickmeme.com

Thank God her article is short. She concludes that she’s disgusted that we condemn these fraternity boys for singing a racist song, and something about how she thinks most of us want to live in an America where we are free to sing our racist songs. Racial slurs is free speech, y’all! It’s my country and I’ll slur if I want to, slur if I want to…

Source: errantdiner.com

Source: errantdiner.com

Thought Catalog has posted several other articles like this, and it’s evident that they’re continuing to publish only for the clicks. The Washington Post article was published in October, and after the backlash the website endured, one would think the employees would be striving to avoid further trouble. Clearly, as long as they’re achieving the numbers, that’s all that matters.

I’m done reading Thought Catalog, and I’m hoping that either they improve their content or others stop reading. Articles like this only allow hate and racism to continue and remain socially acceptable.